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Oral 2: Structured learning

Moderators: Bruno Ribeiro · Yanan Sui

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Tue 26 April 1:00 - 1:15 PDT

Honorable Mention
Understanding over-squashing and bottlenecks on graphs via curvature

Jake Topping · Francesco Di Giovanni · Benjamin Chamberlain · Xiaowen Dong · Michael Bronstein

Most graph neural networks (GNNs) use the message passing paradigm, in which node features are propagated on the input graph. Recent works pointed to the distortion of information flowing from distant nodes as a factor limiting the efficiency of message passing for tasks relying on long-distance interactions. This phenomenon, referred to as 'over-squashing', has been heuristically attributed to graph bottlenecks where the number of $k$-hop neighbors grows rapidly with $k$. We provide a precise description of the over-squashing phenomenon in GNNs and analyze how it arises from bottlenecks in the graph. For this purpose, we introduce a new edge-based combinatorial curvature and prove that negatively curved edges are responsible for the over-squashing issue. We also propose and experimentally test a curvature-based graph rewiring method to alleviate the over-squashing.

Tue 26 April 1:15 - 1:30 PDT

Honorable Mention
Efficiently Modeling Long Sequences with Structured State Spaces

Albert Gu · Karan Goel · Christopher Re

A central goal of sequence modeling is designing a single principled model that can address sequence data across a range of modalities and tasks, particularly on long-range dependencies. Although conventional models including RNNs, CNNs, and Transformers have specialized variants for capturing long dependencies, they still struggle to scale to very long sequences of $10000$ or more steps. A promising recent approach proposed modeling sequences by simulating the fundamental state space model (SSM) \( x'(t) = Ax(t) + Bu(t), y(t) = Cx(t) + Du(t) \), and showed that for appropriate choices of the state matrix \( A \), this system could handle long-range dependencies mathematically and empirically. However, this method has prohibitive computation and memory requirements, rendering it infeasible as a general sequence modeling solution. We propose the Structured State Space sequence model (S4) based on a new parameterization for the SSM, and show that it can be computed much more efficiently than prior approaches while preserving their theoretical strengths. Our technique involves conditioning \( A \) with a low-rank correction, allowing it to be diagonalized stably and reducing the SSM to the well-studied computation of a Cauchy kernel. S4 achieves strong empirical results across a diverse range of established benchmarks, including (i) 91\% accuracy on sequential CIFAR-10 with no data augmentation or auxiliary losses, on par with a larger 2-D ResNet, (ii) substantially closing the gap to Transformers on image and language modeling tasks, while performing generation $60\times$ faster (iii) SoTA on every task from the Long Range Arena benchmark, including solving the challenging Path-X task of length 16k that all prior work fails on, while being as efficient as all competitors.

Tue 26 April 1:30 - 1:45 PDT

Neural Structured Prediction for Inductive Node Classification

Meng Qu · Huiyu Cai · Jian Tang

This paper studies node classification in the inductive setting, i.e., aiming to learn a model on labeled training graphs and generalize it to infer node labels on unlabeled test graphs. This problem has been extensively studied with graph neural networks (GNNs) by learning effective node representations, as well as traditional structured prediction methods for modeling the structured output of node labels, e.g., conditional random fields (CRFs). In this paper, we present a new approach called the Structured Proxy Network (SPN), which combines the advantages of both worlds. SPN defines flexible potential functions of CRFs with GNNs. However, learning such a model is nontrivial as it involves optimizing a maximin game with high-cost inference. Inspired by the underlying connection between joint and marginal distributions defined by Markov networks, we propose to solve an approximate version of the optimization problem as a proxy, which yields a near-optimal solution, making learning more efficient. Extensive experiments on two settings show that our approach outperforms many competitive baselines.

Tue 26 April 1:45 - 2:00 PDT

A New Perspective on "How Graph Neural Networks Go Beyond Weisfeiler-Lehman?"

Asiri Wijesinghe · Qing Wang

We propose a new perspective on designing powerful Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). In a nutshell, this enables a general solution to inject structural properties of graphs into a message-passing aggregation scheme of GNNs. As a theoretical basis, we develop a new hierarchy of local isomorphism on neighborhood subgraphs. Then, we theoretically characterize how message-passing GNNs can be designed to be more expressive than the Weisfeiler Lehman test. To elaborate this characterization, we propose a novel neural model, called GraphSNN, and prove that this model is strictly more expressive than the Weisfeiler Lehman test in distinguishing graph structures. We empirically verify the strength of our model on different graph learning tasks. It is shown that our model consistently improves the state-of-the-art methods on the benchmark tasks without sacrificing computational simplicity and efficiency.

Tue 26 April 2:00 - 2:15 PDT

CycleMLP: A MLP-like Architecture for Dense Prediction

Shoufa Chen · Enze Xie · Chongjian GE · Runjian Chen · Ding Liang · Ping Luo

This paper presents a simple MLP-like architecture, CycleMLP, which is a versatile backbone for visual recognition and dense predictions. As compared to modern MLP architectures, e.g. , MLP-Mixer, ResMLP, and gMLP, whose architectures are correlated to image size and thus are infeasible in object detection and segmentation, CycleMLP has two advantages compared to modern approaches. (1) It can copewith various image sizes. (2) It achieves linear computational complexity to image size by using local windows. In contrast, previous MLPs have $O(N^2)$ computations due to fully spatial connections. We build a family of models which surpass existing MLPs and even state-of-the-art Transformer-based models, e.g. Swin Transformer, while using fewer parameters and FLOPs. We expand the MLP-like models’ applicability, making them a versatile backbone for dense prediction tasks. CycleMLP achieves competitive results on object detection, instance segmentation, and semantic segmentation. In particular, CycleMLP-Tiny outperforms Swin-Tiny by 1.3% mIoU on ADE20K dataset with fewer FLOPs. Moreover, CycleMLP also shows excellent zero-shot robustness on ImageNet-C dataset.

Tue 26 April 2:15 - 2:30 PDT

Variational Inference for Discriminative Learning with Generative Modeling of Feature Incompletion

Kohei Miyaguchi · Takayuki Katsuki · Akira Koseki · Toshiya Iwamori

We are concerned with the problem of distributional prediction with incomplete features: The goal is to estimate the distribution of target variables given feature vectors with some of the elements missing. A typical approach to this problem is to perform missing-value imputation and regression, simultaneously or sequentially, which we call the generative approach. Another approach is to perform regression after appropriately encoding missing values into the feature, which we call the discriminative approach. In comparison, the generative approach is more robust to the feature corruption while the discriminative approach is more favorable to maximize the performance of prediction. In this study, we propose a hybrid method to take the best of both worlds. Our method utilizes the black-box variational inference framework so that it can be applied to a wide variety of modern machine learning models, including the variational autoencoders. We also confirmed the effectiveness of the proposed method empirically.