Oral Session 2

Moderators: Hamed Hassani · Rose Yu · Srinadh Bhojanapalli


Chat is not available.

Mon 3 May 11:00 - 11:15 PDT
Federated Learning Based on Dynamic Regularization

Durmus Alp Emre Acar · Yue Zhao · Ramon Matas · Matthew Mattina · Paul Whatmough · Venkatesh Saligrama

We propose a novel federated learning method for distributively training neural network models, where the server orchestrates cooperation between a subset of randomly chosen devices in each round. We view Federated Learning problem primarily from a communication perspective and allow more device level computations to save transmission costs. We point out a fundamental dilemma, in that the minima of the local-device level empirical loss are inconsistent with those of the global empirical loss. Different from recent prior works, that either attempt inexact minimization or utilize devices for parallelizing gradient computation, we propose a dynamic regularizer for each device at each round, so that in the limit the global and device solutions are aligned. We demonstrate both through empirical results on real and synthetic data as well as analytical results that our scheme leads to efficient training, in both convex and non-convex settings, while being fully agnostic to device heterogeneity and robust to large number of devices, partial participation and unbalanced data.

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Mon 3 May 11:15 - 11:30 PDT
Gradient Projection Memory for Continual Learning

Gobinda Saha · Isha Garg · Kaushik Roy

The ability to learn continually without forgetting the past tasks is a desired attribute for artificial learning systems. Existing approaches to enable such learning in artificial neural networks usually rely on network growth, importance based weight update or replay of old data from the memory. In contrast, we propose a novel approach where a neural network learns new tasks by taking gradient steps in the orthogonal direction to the gradient subspaces deemed important for the past tasks. We find the bases of these subspaces by analyzing network representations (activations) after learning each task with Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) in a single shot manner and store them in the memory as Gradient Projection Memory (GPM). With qualitative and quantitative analyses, we show that such orthogonal gradient descent induces minimum to no interference with the past tasks, thereby mitigates forgetting. We evaluate our algorithm on diverse image classification datasets with short and long sequences of tasks and report better or on-par performance compared to the state-of-the-art approaches.

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Mon 3 May 11:30 - 11:45 PDT
Growing Efficient Deep Networks by Structured Continuous Sparsification

Xin Yuan · Pedro Savarese · Michael Maire

We develop an approach to growing deep network architectures over the course of training, driven by a principled combination of accuracy and sparsity objectives. Unlike existing pruning or architecture search techniques that operate on full-sized models or supernet architectures, our method can start from a small, simple seed architecture and dynamically grow and prune both layers and filters. By combining a continuous relaxation of discrete network structure optimization with a scheme for sampling sparse subnetworks, we produce compact, pruned networks, while also drastically reducing the computational expense of training. For example, we achieve $49.7\%$ inference FLOPs and $47.4\%$ training FLOPs savings compared to a baseline ResNet-50 on ImageNet, while maintaining $75.2\%$ top-1 validation accuracy --- all without any dedicated fine-tuning stage. Experiments across CIFAR, ImageNet, PASCAL VOC, and Penn Treebank, with convolutional networks for image classification and semantic segmentation, and recurrent networks for language modeling, demonstrate that we both train faster and produce more efficient networks than competing architecture pruning or search methods.

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Mon 3 May 11:45 - 11:55 PDT
Geometry-Aware Gradient Algorithms for Neural Architecture Search

Liam Li · Mikhail Khodak · Nina Balcan · Ameet Talwalkar

Recent state-of-the-art methods for neural architecture search (NAS) exploit gradient-based optimization by relaxing the problem into continuous optimization over architectures and shared-weights, a noisy process that remains poorly understood. We argue for the study of single-level empirical risk minimization to understand NAS with weight-sharing, reducing the design of NAS methods to devising optimizers and regularizers that can quickly obtain high-quality solutions to this problem. Invoking the theory of mirror descent, we present a geometry-aware framework that exploits the underlying structure of this optimization to return sparse architectural parameters, leading to simple yet novel algorithms that enjoy fast convergence guarantees and achieve state-of-the-art accuracy on the latest NAS benchmarks in computer vision. Notably, we exceed the best published results for both CIFAR and ImageNet on both the DARTS search space and NAS-Bench-201; on the latter we achieve near-oracle-optimal performance on CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100. Together, our theory and experiments demonstrate a principled way to co-design optimizers and continuous relaxations of discrete NAS search spaces.

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Mon 3 May 11:55 - 12:05 PDT

Mon 3 May 12:05 - 12:15 PDT
Generalization bounds via distillation

Daniel Hsu · Ziwei Ji · Matus Telgarsky · Lan Wang

This paper theoretically investigates the following empirical phenomenon: given a high-complexity network with poor generalization bounds, one can distill it into a network with nearly identical predictions but low complexity and vastly smaller generalization bounds. The main contribution is an analysis showing that the original network inherits this good generalization bound from its distillation, assuming the use of well-behaved data augmentation. This bound is presented both in an abstract and in a concrete form, the latter complemented by a reduction technique to handle modern computation graphs featuring convolutional layers, fully-connected layers, and skip connections, to name a few. To round out the story, a (looser) classical uniform convergence analysis of compression is also presented, as well as a variety of experiments on cifar and mnist demonstrating similar generalization performance between the original network and its distillation.

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Mon 3 May 12:15 - 12:25 PDT
On the Theory of Implicit Deep Learning: Global Convergence with Implicit Layers

Kenji Kawaguchi

A deep equilibrium model uses implicit layers, which are implicitly defined through an equilibrium point of an infinite sequence of computation. It avoids any explicit computation of the infinite sequence by finding an equilibrium point directly via root-finding and by computing gradients via implicit differentiation. In this paper, we analyze the gradient dynamics of deep equilibrium models with nonlinearity only on weight matrices and non-convex objective functions of weights for regression and classification. Despite non-convexity, convergence to global optimum at a linear rate is guaranteed without any assumption on the width of the models, allowing the width to be smaller than the output dimension and the number of data points. Moreover, we prove a relation between the gradient dynamics of the deep implicit layer and the dynamics of trust region Newton method of a shallow explicit layer. This mathematically proven relation along with our numerical observation suggests the importance of understanding implicit bias of implicit layers and an open problem on the topic. Our proofs deal with implicit layers, weight tying and nonlinearity on weights, and differ from those in the related literature.

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Mon 3 May 12:25 - 12:35 PDT
Sharpness-aware Minimization for Efficiently Improving Generalization

Pierre Foret · Ariel Kleiner · Hossein Mobahi · Behnam Neyshabur

In today's heavily overparameterized models, the value of the training loss provides few guarantees on model generalization ability. Indeed, optimizing only the training loss value, as is commonly done, can easily lead to suboptimal model quality. Motivated by the connection between geometry of the loss landscape and generalization---including a generalization bound that we prove here---we introduce a novel, effective procedure for instead simultaneously minimizing loss value and loss sharpness. In particular, our procedure, Sharpness-Aware Minimization (SAM), seeks parameters that lie in neighborhoods having uniformly low loss; this formulation results in a min-max optimization problem on which gradient descent can be performed efficiently. We present empirical results showing that SAM improves model generalization across a variety of benchmark datasets (e.g., CIFAR-{10, 100}, ImageNet, finetuning tasks) and models, yielding novel state-of-the-art performance for several. Additionally, we find that SAM natively provides robustness to label noise on par with that provided by state-of-the-art procedures that specifically target learning with noisy labels.

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Mon 3 May 12:35 - 12:45 PDT
Systematic generalisation with group invariant predictions

Faruk Ahmed · Yoshua Bengio · Harm van Seijen · Aaron Courville

We consider situations where the presence of dominant simpler correlations with the target variable in a training set can cause an SGD-trained neural network to be less reliant on more persistently correlating complex features. When the non-persistent, simpler correlations correspond to non-semantic background factors, a neural network trained on this data can exhibit dramatic failure upon encountering systematic distributional shift, where the correlating background features are recombined with different objects. We perform an empirical study on three synthetic datasets, showing that group invariance methods across inferred partitionings of the training set can lead to significant improvements at such test-time situations. We also suggest a simple invariance penalty, showing with experiments on our setups that it can perform better than alternatives. We find that even without assuming access to any systematically shifted validation sets, one can still find improvements over an ERM-trained reference model.

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Mon 3 May 12:45 - 12:55 PDT
On Statistical Bias In Active Learning: How and When to Fix It

Sebastian Farquhar · Yarin Gal · Tom Rainforth

Active learning is a powerful tool when labelling data is expensive, but it introduces a bias because the training data no longer follows the population distribution. We formalize this bias and investigate the situations in which it can be harmful and sometimes even helpful. We further introduce novel corrective weights to remove bias when doing so is beneficial. Through this, our work not only provides a useful mechanism that can improve the active learning approach, but also an explanation for the empirical successes of various existing approaches which ignore this bias. In particular, we show that this bias can be actively helpful when training overparameterized models---like neural networks---with relatively modest dataset sizes.

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Mon 3 May 12:55 - 13:05 PDT
Very Deep VAEs Generalize Autoregressive Models and Can Outperform Them on Images

Rewon Child

We present a hierarchical VAE that, for the first time, generates samples quickly $\textit{and}$ outperforms the PixelCNN in log-likelihood on all natural image benchmarks. We begin by observing that, in theory, VAEs can actually represent autoregressive models, as well as faster, better models if they exist, when made sufficiently deep. Despite this, autoregressive models have historically outperformed VAEs in log-likelihood. We test if insufficient depth explains why by scaling a VAE to greater stochastic depth than previously explored and evaluating it CIFAR-10, ImageNet, and FFHQ. In comparison to the PixelCNN, these very deep VAEs achieve higher likelihoods, use fewer parameters, generate samples thousands of times faster, and are more easily applied to high-resolution images. Qualitative studies suggest this is because the VAE learns efficient hierarchical visual representations. We release our source code and models at

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Mon 3 May 13:05 - 13:20 PDT

Mon 3 May 13:20 - 13:30 PDT
Uncertainty Sets for Image Classifiers using Conformal Prediction

Anastasios Angelopoulos · Stephen Bates · Michael Jordan · Jitendra Malik

Convolutional image classifiers can achieve high predictive accuracy, but quantifying their uncertainty remains an unresolved challenge, hindering their deployment in consequential settings. Existing uncertainty quantification techniques, such as Platt scaling, attempt to calibrate the network’s probability estimates, but they do not have formal guarantees. We present an algorithm that modifies any classifier to output a predictive set containing the true label with a user-specified probability, such as 90%. The algorithm is simple and fast like Platt scaling, but provides a formal finite-sample coverage guarantee for every model and dataset. Our method modifies an existing conformal prediction algorithm to give more stable predictive sets by regularizing the small scores of unlikely classes after Platt scaling. In experiments on both Imagenet and Imagenet-V2 with ResNet-152 and other classifiers, our scheme outperforms existing approaches, achieving coverage with sets that are often factors of 5 to 10 smaller than a stand-alone Platt scaling baseline.

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Mon 3 May 13:30 - 13:40 PDT
PMI-Masking: Principled masking of correlated spans

Yoav Levine · Barak Lenz · Opher Lieber · Omri Abend · Kevin Leyton-Brown · Moshe Tennenholtz · Yoav Shoham

Masking tokens uniformly at random constitutes a common flaw in the pretraining of Masked Language Models (MLMs) such as BERT. We show that such uniform masking allows an MLM to minimize its training objective by latching onto shallow local signals, leading to pretraining inefficiency and suboptimal downstream performance. To address this flaw, we propose PMI-Masking, a principled masking strategy based on the concept of Pointwise Mutual Information (PMI), which jointly masks a token n-gram if it exhibits high collocation over the corpus. PMI-Masking motivates, unifies, and improves upon prior more heuristic approaches that attempt to address the drawback of random uniform token masking, such as whole-word masking, entity/phrase masking, and random-span masking. Specifically, we show experimentally that PMI-Masking reaches the performance of prior masking approaches in half the training time, and consistently improves performance at the end of pretraining.

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Mon 3 May 13:40 - 13:50 PDT
Gradient Vaccine: Investigating and Improving Multi-task Optimization in Massively Multilingual Models

Zirui Wang · Yulia Tsvetkov · Orhan Firat · Yuan Cao

Massively multilingual models subsuming tens or even hundreds of languages pose great challenges to multi-task optimization. While it is a common practice to apply a language-agnostic procedure optimizing a joint multilingual task objective, how to properly characterize and take advantage of its underlying problem structure for improving optimization efficiency remains under-explored. In this paper, we attempt to peek into the black-box of multilingual optimization through the lens of loss function geometry. We find that gradient similarity measured along the optimization trajectory is an important signal, which correlates well with not only language proximity but also the overall model performance. Such observation helps us to identify a critical limitation of existing gradient-based multi-task learning methods, and thus we derive a simple and scalable optimization procedure, named Gradient Vaccine, which encourages more geometrically aligned parameter updates for close tasks. Empirically, our method obtains significant model performance gains on multilingual machine translation and XTREME benchmark tasks for multilingual language models. Our work reveals the importance of properly measuring and utilizing language proximity in multilingual optimization, and has broader implications for multi-task learning beyond multilingual modeling.

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Mon 3 May 13:50 - 14:00 PDT
Watch-And-Help: A Challenge for Social Perception and Human-AI Collaboration

Xavier Puig · Tianmin Shu · Shuang Li · Zilin Wang · Yuan-Hong Liao · Joshua B Tenenbaum · Sanja Fidler · Antonio Torralba

In this paper, we introduce Watch-And-Help (WAH), a challenge for testing social intelligence in agents. In WAH, an AI agent needs to help a human-like agent perform a complex household task efficiently. To succeed, the AI agent needs to i) understand the underlying goal of the task by watching a single demonstration of the human-like agent performing the same task (social perception), and ii) coordinate with the human-like agent to solve the task in an unseen environment as fast as possible (human-AI collaboration). For this challenge, we build VirtualHome-Social, a multi-agent household environment, and provide a benchmark including both planning and learning based baselines. We evaluate the performance of AI agents with the human-like agent as well as and with real humans using objective metrics and subjective user ratings. Experimental results demonstrate that our challenge and virtual environment enable a systematic evaluation on the important aspects of machine social intelligence at scale.

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Mon 3 May 14:00 - 14:10 PDT
Predicting Infectiousness for Proactive Contact Tracing

Yoshua Bengio · Prateek Gupta · Tegan Maharaj · Nasim Rahaman · Martin Weiss · Tristan Deleu · Eilif B Muller · Meng Qu · victor schmidt · Pierre-luc St-charles · hannah alsdurf · Olexa Bilaniuk · david buckeridge · Gaétan Marceau Caron · pierre carrier · Joumana Ghosn · satya gagne · Chris J Pal · Irina Rish · Bernhard Schoelkopf · abhinav sharma · Jian Tang · Andrew Williams

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread rapidly worldwide, overwhelming manual contact tracing in many countries and resulting in widespread lockdowns for emergency containment. Large-scale digital contact tracing (DCT) has emerged as a potential solution to resume economic and social activity while minimizing spread of the virus. Various DCT methods have been proposed, each making trade-offs be-tween privacy, mobility restrictions, and public health. The most common approach, binary contact tracing (BCT), models infection as a binary event, informed only by an individual’s test results, with corresponding binary recommendations that either all or none of the individual’s contacts quarantine. BCT ignores the inherent uncertainty in contacts and the infection process, which could be used to tailor messaging to high-risk individuals, and prompt proactive testing or earlier warnings. It also does not make use of observations such as symptoms or pre-existing medical conditions, which could be used to make more accurate infectiousness predictions. In this paper, we use a recently-proposed COVID-19 epidemiological simulator to develop and test methods that can be deployed to a smartphone to locally and proactively predict an individual’s infectiousness (risk of infecting others) based on their contact history and other information, while respecting strong privacy constraints. Predictions are used to provide personalized recommendations to the individual via an app, as well as to send anonymized messages to the individual’s contacts, who use this information to better predict their own infectiousness, an approach we call proactive contact tracing (PCT). Similarly to other works, we find that compared to no tracing, all DCT methods tested are able to reduce spread of the disease and thus save lives, even at low adoption rates, strongly supporting a role for DCT methods in managing the pandemic. Further, we find a deep-learning based PCT method which improves over BCT for equivalent average mobility, suggesting PCT could help in safe re-opening and second-wave prevention.

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Mon 3 May 14:10 - 14:23 PDT