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Poster Session 5


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ZeroFL: Efficient On-Device Training for Federated Learning with Local Sparsity

Xinchi Qiu · Javier Fernandez-Marques · Pedro Porto Buarque de Gusmao · Yan Gao · Titouan Parcollet · Nicholas Lane

When the available hardware cannot meet the memory and compute requirements to efficiently train high performing machine learning models, a compromise in either the training quality or the model complexity is needed. In Federated Learning (FL), nodes are orders of magnitude more constrained than traditional server-grade hardware and are often battery powered, severely limiting the sophistication of models that can be trained under this paradigm. While most research has focused on designing better aggregation strategies to improve convergence rates and in alleviating the communication costs of FL, fewer efforts have been devoted to accelerating on-device training. Such stage, which repeats hundreds of times (i.e. every round) and can involve thousands of devices, accounts for the majority of the time required to train federated models and, the totality of the energy consumption at the client side. In this work, we present the first study on the unique aspects that arise when introducing sparsity at training time in FL workloads. We then propose ZeroFL, a framework that relies on highly sparse operations to accelerate on-device training. Models trained with ZeroFL and 95% sparsity achieve up to 2.3% higher accuracy compared to competitive baselines obtained from adapting a state-of-the-art sparse training framework to the FL setting.

Know Your Action Set: Learning Action Relations for Reinforcement Learning

Ayush Jain · Norio Kosaka · Kyung-Min Kim · Joseph Lim

Intelligent agents can solve tasks in various ways depending on their available set of actions. However, conventional reinforcement learning (RL) assumes a fixed action set. This work asserts that tasks with varying action sets require reasoning of the relations between the available actions. For instance, taking a nail-action in a repair task is meaningful only if a hammer-action is also available. To learn and utilize such action relations, we propose a novel policy architecture consisting of a graph attention network over the available actions. We show that our model makes informed action decisions by correctly attending to other related actions in both value-based and policy-based RL. Consequently, it outperforms non-relational architectures on applications where the action space often varies, such as recommender systems and physical reasoning with tools and skills. Results and code at .

You are AllSet: A Multiset Function Framework for Hypergraph Neural Networks

Eli Chien · Chao Pan · Jianhao Peng · Olgica Milenkovic

Hypergraphs are used to model higher-order interactions amongst agents and there exist many practically relevant instances of hypergraph datasets. To enable the efficient processing of hypergraph data, several hypergraph neural network platforms have been proposed for learning hypergraph properties and structure, with a special focus on node classification tasks. However, almost all existing methods use heuristic propagation rules and offer suboptimal performance on benchmarking datasets. We propose AllSet, a new hypergraph neural network paradigm that represents a highly general framework for (hyper)graph neural networks and for the first time implements hypergraph neural network layers as compositions of two multiset functions that can be efficiently learned for each task and each dataset. The proposed AllSet framework also for the first time integrates Deep Sets and Set Transformers with hypergraph neural networks for the purpose of learning multiset functions and therefore allows for significant modeling flexibility and high expressive power. To evaluate the performance of AllSet, we conduct the most extensive experiments to date involving ten known benchmarking datasets and three newly curated datasets that represent significant challenges for hypergraph node classification. The results demonstrate that our method has the unique ability to either match or outperform all other hypergraph neural networks across the tested datasets: As an example, the performance improvements over existing methods and a new method based on heterogeneous graph neural networks are close to $4\%$ on the Yelp and Zoo datasets, and $3\%$ on the Walmart dataset.

Label Encoding for Regression Networks

Deval Shah · Zi Yu Xue · Tor Aamodt

Deep neural networks are used for a wide range of regression problems. However, there exists a significant gap in accuracy between specialized approaches and generic direct regression in which a network is trained by minimizing the squared or absolute error of output labels. Prior work has shown that solving a regression problem with a set of binary classifiers can improve accuracy by utilizing well-studied binary classification algorithms. We introduce binary-encoded labels (BEL), which generalizes the application of binary classification to regression by providing a framework for considering arbitrary multi-bit values when encoding target values. We identify desirable properties of suitable encoding and decoding functions used for the conversion between real-valued and binary-encoded labels based on theoretical and empirical study. These properties highlight a tradeoff between classification error probability and error-correction capabilities of label encodings. BEL can be combined with off-the-shelf task-specific feature extractors and trained end-to-end. We propose a series of sample encoding, decoding, and training loss functions for BEL and demonstrate they result in lower error than direct regression and specialized approaches while being suitable for a diverse set of regression problems, network architectures, and evaluation metrics. BEL achieves state-of-the-art accuracies for several regression benchmarks. Code is available at

Improving Mutual Information Estimation with Annealed and Energy-Based Bounds

Rob Brekelmans · Sicong(Sheldon) Huang · Marzyeh Ghassemi · Greg Ver Steeg · Roger Grosse · Alireza Makhzani

Mutual information (MI) is a fundamental quantity in information theory and machine learning. However, direct estimation of mutual information is intractable, even if the true joint probability density for the variables of interest is known, as it involves estimating a potentially high-dimensional log partition function. In this work, we view mutual information estimation from the perspective of importance sampling. Since naive importance sampling with the marginal distribution as a proposal requires exponential sample complexity in the true mutual information, we propose several improved proposals which assume additional density information is available. In settings where the full joint distribution is available, we propose Multi-Sample Annealed Importance Sampling (AIS) bounds on mutual information, which we demonstrate can tightly estimate large values of MI in our experiments. In settings where only a single marginal distribution is known, our MINE-AIS method improves upon existing variational methods by directly optimizing a tighter lower bound on MI, using energy-based training to estimate gradients and Multi-Sample AIS for evaluation. Our methods are particularly suitable for evaluating MI in deep generative models, since explicit forms for the marginal or joint densities are often available. We evaluate our bounds on estimating the MI of VAEs and GANs trained on the MNIST and CIFAR datasets, and showcase significant gains over existing bounds in these challenging settings with high ground truth MI.

Optimizing Neural Networks with Gradient Lexicase Selection

Li Ding · Lee Spector

One potential drawback of using aggregated performance measurement in machine learning is that models may learn to accept higher errors on some training cases as compromises for lower errors on others, with the lower errors actually being instances of overfitting. This can lead both to stagnation at local optima and to poor generalization. Lexicase selection is an uncompromising method developed in evolutionary computation, which selects models on the basis of sequences of individual training case errors instead of using aggregated metrics such as loss and accuracy. In this paper, we investigate how the general idea of lexicase selection can fit into the context of deep learning to improve generalization. We propose Gradient Lexicase Selection, an optimization framework that combines gradient descent and lexicase selection in an evolutionary fashion. Experimental results show that the proposed method improves the generalization performance of various popular deep neural network architectures on three image classification benchmarks. Qualitative analysis also indicates that our method helps the networks learn more diverse representations.

Post-Training Detection of Backdoor Attacks for Two-Class and Multi-Attack Scenarios

Zhen Xiang · David Miller · George Kesidis

Backdoor attacks (BAs) are an emerging threat to deep neural network classifiers. A victim classifier will predict to an attacker-desired target class whenever a test sample is embedded with the same backdoor pattern (BP) that was used to poison the classifier's training set. Detecting whether a classifier is backdoor attacked is not easy in practice, especially when the defender is, e.g., a downstream user without access to the classifier's training set. This challenge is addressed here by a reverse-engineering defense (RED), which has been shown to yield state-of-the-art performance in several domains. However, existing REDs are not applicable when there are only two classes or when multiple attacks are present. These scenarios are first studied in the current paper, under the practical constraints that the defender neither has access to the classifier's training set nor to supervision from clean reference classifiers trained for the same domain. We propose a detection framework based on BP reverse-engineering and a novel expected transferability (ET) statistic. We show that our ET statistic is effective using the same detection threshold, irrespective of the classification domain, the attack configuration, and the BP reverse-engineering algorithm that is used. The excellent performance of our method is demonstrated on six benchmark datasets. Notably, our detection framework is also applicable to multi-class scenarios with multiple attacks. Code is available at

Efficient Computation of Deep Nonlinear Infinite-Width Neural Networks that Learn Features

Greg Yang · Michael Santacroce · Edward Hu

While a popular limit of infinite-width neural networks, the Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK) often exhibits performance gaps from finite-width neural networks on standard datasets, due to lack of feature learning. Although the feature learning maximal update limit, or μ-limit (Yang and Hu, 2020) of wide networks has closed the gap for 1-hidden-layer linear models, no one has been able to demonstrate this for deep nonlinear multi-layer perceptrons (MLP) because of μ-limit’s computational difficulty in this setting. Here, we solve this problem by proposing a novel feature learning limit, the π-limit, that bypasses the computational issues. The π-limit, in short, is the limit of a form of projected gradient descent, and the π-limit of an MLP is roughly another MLP where gradients are appended to weights during training. We prove its almost sure convergence with width using the Tensor Programs technique. We evaluate it on CIFAR10 and Omniglot against NTK as well as finite networks, finding the π-limit outperform finite-width models trained normally (without projection) in both settings, closing the performance gap between finite- and infinite-width neural networks previously left by NTK. Code for this work is available at

Wisdom of Committees: An Overlooked Approach To Faster and More Accurate Models

Xiaofang Wang · Dan Kondratyuk · Eric Christiansen · Kris Kitani · Yair Movshovitz-Attias · Elad Eban

Committee-based models (ensembles or cascades) construct models by combining existing pre-trained ones. While ensembles and cascades are well-known techniques that were proposed before deep learning, they are not considered a core building block of deep model architectures and are rarely compared to in recent literature on developing efficient models. In this work, we go back to basics and conduct a comprehensive analysis of the efficiency of committee-based models. We find that even the most simplistic method for building committees from existing, independently pre-trained models can match or exceed the accuracy of state-of-the-art models while being drastically more efficient. These simple committee-based models also outperform sophisticated neural architecture search methods (e.g., BigNAS). These findings hold true for several tasks, including image classification, video classification, and semantic segmentation, and various architecture families, such as ViT, EfficientNet, ResNet, MobileNetV2, and X3D. Our results show that an EfficientNet cascade can achieve a 5.4x speedup over B7 and a ViT cascade can achieve a 2.3x speedup over ViT-L-384 while being equally accurate.

Interpretable Unsupervised Diversity Denoising and Artefact Removal

Mangal Prakash · Mauricio Delbracio · Peyman Milanfar · Florian Jug

Image denoising and artefact removal are complex inverse problems admitting multiple valid solutions. Unsupervised diversity restoration, that is, obtaining a diverse set of possible restorations given a corrupted image, is important for ambiguity removal in many applications such as microscopy where paired data for supervised training are often unobtainable. In real world applications, imaging noise and artefacts are typically hard to model, leading to unsatisfactory performance of existing unsupervised approaches. This work presents an interpretable approach for unsupervised and diverse image restoration. To this end, we introduce a capable architecture called Hierarchical DivNoising (HDN) based on hierarchical Variational Autoencoder. We show that HDN learns an interpretable multi-scale representation of artefacts and we leverage this interpretability to remove imaging artefacts commonly occurring in microscopy data. Our method achieves state-of-the-art results on twelve benchmark image denoising datasets while providing access to a whole distribution of sensibly restored solutions.Additionally, we demonstrate on three real microscopy datasets that HDN removes artefacts without supervision, being the first method capable of doing so while generating multiple plausible restorations all consistent with the given corrupted image.

Tighter Sparse Approximation Bounds for ReLU Neural Networks

Carles Domingo i Enrich · Youssef Mroueh

A well-known line of work (Barron, 1993; Breiman, 1993; Klusowski & Barron, 2018) provides bounds on the width $n$ of a ReLU two-layer neural network needed to approximate a function $f$ over the ball $\mathcal{B}_R(\mathbb{R}^d)$ up to error $\epsilon$, when the Fourier based quantity $C_f = \int_{\mathbb{R}^d} \|\xi\|^2 |\hat{f}(\xi)| \ d\xi$ is finite. More recently Ongie et al. (2019) used the Radon transform as a tool for analysis of infinite-width ReLU two-layer networks. In particular, they introduce the concept of Radon-based $\mathcal{R}$-norms and show that a function defined on $\mathbb{R}^d$ can be represented as an infinite-width two-layer neural network if and only if its $\mathcal{R}$-norm is finite. In this work, we extend the framework of Ongie et al. (2019) and define similar Radon-based semi-norms ($\mathcal{R}, \mathcal{U}$-norms) such that a function admits an infinite-width neural network representation on a bounded open set $\mathcal{U} \subseteq \mathbb{R}^d$ when its $\mathcal{R}, \mathcal{U}$-norm is finite. Building on this, we derive sparse (finite-width) neural network approximation bounds that refine those of Breiman (1993); Klusowski & Barron (2018). Finally, we show that infinite-width neural network representations on bounded open sets are not unique and study their structure, providing a functional view of mode connectivity.

Policy Gradients Incorporating the Future

David Venuto · Elaine Lau · Doina Precup · Ofir Nachum

Reasoning about the future -- understanding how decisions in the present time affect outcomes in the future -- is one of the central challenges for reinforcement learning (RL), especially in highly-stochastic or partially observable environments. While predicting the future directly is hard, in this work we introduce a method that allows an agent to ``look into the future'' without explicitly predicting it. Namely, we propose to allow an agent, during its training on past experience, to observe what \emph{actually} happened in the future at that time, while enforcing an information bottleneck to avoid the agent overly relying on this privileged information. Coupled with recent advances in variational inference and a latent-variable autoregressive model, this gives our agent the ability to utilize rich and \emph{useful} information about the future trajectory dynamics in addition to the present. Our method, Policy Gradients Incorporating the Future (PGIF), is easy to implement and versatile, being applicable to virtually any policy gradient algorithm. We apply our proposed method to a number of off-the-shelf RL algorithms and show that PGIF is able to achieve higher reward faster in a variety of online and offline RL domains, as well as sparse-reward and partially observable environments.

Byzantine-Robust Learning on Heterogeneous Datasets via Bucketing

Sai Karimireddy · Lie He · Martin Jaggi

In Byzantine robust distributed or federated learning, a central server wants to train a machine learning model over data distributed across multiple workers. However, a fraction of these workers may deviate from the prescribed algorithm and send arbitrary messages. While this problem has received significant attention recently, most current defenses assume that the workers have identical data. For realistic cases when the data across workers are heterogeneous (non-iid), we design new attacks which circumvent current defenses, leading to significant loss of performance. We then propose a simple bucketing scheme that adapts existing robust algorithms to heterogeneous datasets at a negligible computational cost. We also theoretically and experimentally validate our approach, showing that combining bucketing with existing robust algorithms is effective against challenging attacks. Our work is the first to establish guaranteed convergence for the non-iid Byzantine robust problem under realistic assumptions.

RISP: Rendering-Invariant State Predictor with Differentiable Simulation and Rendering for Cross-Domain Parameter Estimation

Pingchuan Ma · Tao Du · Joshua B Tenenbaum · Wojciech Matusik · Chuang Gan

This work considers identifying parameters characterizing a physical system's dynamic motion directly from a video whose rendering configurations are inaccessible. Existing solutions require massive training data or lack generalizability to unknown rendering configurations. We propose a novel approach that marries domain randomization and differentiable rendering gradients to address this problem. Our core idea is to train a rendering-invariant state-prediction (RISP) network that transforms image differences into state differences independent of rendering configurations, e.g., lighting, shadows, or material reflectance. To train this predictor, we formulate a new loss on rendering variances using gradients from differentiable rendering. Moreover, we present an efficient, second-order method to compute the gradients of this loss, allowing it to be integrated seamlessly into modern deep learning frameworks. We evaluate our method in rigid-body and deformable-body simulation environments using four tasks: state estimation, system identification, imitation learning, and visuomotor control. We further demonstrate the efficacy of our approach on a real-world example: inferring the state and action sequences of a quadrotor from a video of its motion sequences. Compared with existing methods, our approach achieves significantly lower reconstruction errors and has better generalizability among unknown rendering configurations.

VC dimension of partially quantized neural networks in the overparametrized regime

Yutong Wang · Clayton Scott

Vapnik-Chervonenkis (VC) theory has so far been unable to explain the small generalization error of overparametrized neural networks. Indeed, existing applications of VC theory to large networks obtain upper bounds on VC dimension that are proportional to the number of weights, and for a large class of networks, these upper bound are known to be tight. In this work, we focus on a class of partially quantized networks that we refer to as hyperplane arrangement neural networks (HANNs). Using a sample compression analysis, we show that HANNs can have VC dimension significantly smaller than the number of weights, while being highly expressive. In particular, empirical risk minimization over HANNs in the overparametrized regime achieves the minimax rate for classification with Lipschitz posterior class probability. We further demonstrate the expressivity of HANNs empirically. On a panel of 121 UCI datasets, overparametrized HANNs are able to match the performance of state-of-the-art full-precision models.

Pretraining Text Encoders with Adversarial Mixture of Training Signal Generators

Yu Meng · Chenyan Xiong · Payal Bajaj · saurabh tiwary · Paul N Bennett · Jiawei Han · Xia Song

We present a new framework AMOS that pretrains text encoders with an Adversarial learning curriculum via a Mixture Of Signals from multiple auxiliary generators. Following ELECTRA-style pretraining, the main encoder is trained as a discriminator to detect replaced tokens generated by auxiliary masked language models (MLMs). Different from ELECTRA which trains one MLM as the generator, we jointly train multiple MLMs of different sizes to provide training signals at various levels of difficulty. To push the discriminator to learn better with challenging replaced tokens, we learn mixture weights over the auxiliary MLMs' outputs to maximize the discriminator loss by backpropagating the gradient from the discriminator via Gumbel-Softmax. For better pretraining efficiency, we propose a way to assemble multiple MLMs into one unified auxiliary model. AMOS outperforms ELECTRA and recent state-of-the-art pretrained models by about 1 point on the GLUE benchmark for BERT base-sized models.

Graph Neural Network Guided Local Search for the Traveling Salesperson Problem

Benjamin Hudson · Qingbiao Li · Matthew Malencia · Amanda Prorok

Solutions to the Traveling Salesperson Problem (TSP) have practical applications to processes in transportation, logistics, and automation, yet must be computed with minimal delay to satisfy the real-time nature of the underlying tasks. However, solving large TSP instances quickly without sacrificing solution quality remains challenging for current approximate algorithms. To close this gap, we present a hybrid data-driven approach for solving the TSP based on Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) and Guided Local Search (GLS). Our model predicts the regret of including each edge of the problem graph in the solution; GLS uses these predictions in conjunction with the original problem graph to find solutions. Our experiments demonstrate that this approach converges to optimal solutions at a faster rate than three recent learning based approaches for the TSP. Notably, we reduce the mean optimality gap on the 100-node problem set from 1.534% to 0.705%, a 2x improvement. When generalizing from 20-node instances to the 100-node problem set, we reduce the optimality gap from 18.845% to 2.622%, a 7x improvement.

Generalized Kernel Thinning

Raaz Dwivedi · Lester Mackey

The kernel thinning (KT) algorithm of Dwivedi and Mackey (2021) compresses a probability distribution more effectively than independent sampling by targeting a reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS) and leveraging a less smooth square-root kernel. Here we provide four improvements. First, we show that KT applied directly to the target RKHS yields tighter, dimension-free guarantees for any kernel, any distribution, and any fixed function in the RKHS. Second, we show that, for analytic kernels like Gaussian, inverse multiquadric, and sinc, target KT admits maximum mean discrepancy (MMD) guarantees comparable to or better than those of square-root KT without making explicit use of a square-root kernel. Third, we prove that KT with a fractional power kernel yields better-than-Monte-Carlo MMD guarantees for non-smooth kernels, like Laplace and Matern, that do not have square-roots. Fourth, we establish that KT applied to a sum of the target and power kernels (a procedure we call KT+) simultaneously inherits the improved MMD guarantees of power KT and the tighter individual function guarantees of target KT. In our experiments with target KT and KT+, we witness significant improvements in integration error even in 100 dimensions and when compressing challenging differential equation posteriors.

Policy Smoothing for Provably Robust Reinforcement Learning

Aounon Kumar · Alexander Levine · Soheil Feizi

The study of provable adversarial robustness for deep neural networks (DNNs) has mainly focused on $\textit{static}$ supervised learning tasks such as image classification. However, DNNs have been used extensively in real-world $\textit{adaptive}$ tasks such as reinforcement learning (RL), making such systems vulnerable to adversarial attacks as well. Prior works in provable robustness in RL seek to certify the behaviour of the victim policy at every time-step against a non-adaptive adversary using methods developed for the static setting. But in the real world, an RL adversary can infer the defense strategy used by the victim agent by observing the states, actions, etc. from previous time-steps and adapt itself to produce stronger attacks in future steps (e.g., by focusing more on states critical to the agent's performance). We present an efficient procedure, designed specifically to defend against an adaptive RL adversary, that can directly certify the total reward without requiring the policy to be robust at each time-step. Focusing on randomized smoothing based defenses, our main theoretical contribution is to prove an $\textit{adaptive version}$ of the Neyman-Pearson Lemma -- a key lemma for smoothing-based certificates -- where the adversarial perturbation at a particular time can be a stochastic function of current and previous observations and states as well as previous actions. Building on this result, we propose $\textit{policy smoothing}$ where the agent adds a Gaussian noise to its observation at each time-step before passing it through the policy function. Our robustness certificates guarantee that the final total reward obtained by policy smoothing remains above a certain threshold, even though the actions at intermediate time-steps may change under the attack. We show that our certificates are $\textit{tight}$ by constructing a worst-case scenario that achieves the bounds derived in our analysis. Our experiments on various environments like Cartpole, Pong, Freeway and Mountain Car show that our method can yield meaningful robustness guarantees in practice.

Transfer RL across Observation Feature Spaces via Model-Based Regularization

Yanchao Sun · Ruijie Zheng · Xiyao Wang · Andrew Cohen · Furong Huang

In many reinforcement learning (RL) applications, the observation space is specified by human developers and restricted by physical realizations, and may thus be subject to dramatic changes over time (e.g. increased number of observable features). However, when the observation space changes, the previous policy will likely fail due to the mismatch of input features, and another policy must be trained from scratch, which is inefficient in terms of computation and sample complexity. Following theoretical insights, we propose a novel algorithm which extracts the latent-space dynamics in the source task, and transfers the dynamics model to the target task to use as a model-based regularizer. Our algorithm works for drastic changes of observation space (e.g. from vector-based observation to image-based observation), without any inter-task mapping or any prior knowledge of the target task. Empirical results show that our algorithm significantly improves the efficiency and stability of learning in the target task.

PI3NN: Out-of-distribution-aware Prediction Intervals from Three Neural Networks

Siyan Liu · Pei Zhang · Dan Lu · Guannan Zhang

We propose a novel prediction interval (PI) method for uncertainty quantification, which addresses three major issues with the state-of-the-art PI methods. First, existing PI methods require retraining of neural networks (NNs) for every given confidence level and suffer from the crossing issue in calculating multiple PIs. Second, they usually rely on customized loss functions with extra sensitive hyperparameters for which fine tuning is required to achieve a well-calibrated PI. Third, they usually underestimate uncertainties of out-of-distribution (OOD) samples leading to over-confident PIs. Our PI3NN method calculates PIs from linear combinations of three NNs, each of which is independently trained using the standard mean squared error loss. The coefficients of the linear combinations are computed using root-finding algorithms to ensure tight PIs for a given confidence level. We theoretically prove that PI3NN can calculate PIs for a series of confidence levels without retraining NNs and it completely avoids the crossing issue. Additionally, PI3NN does not introduce any unusual hyperparameters resulting in a stable performance. Furthermore, we address OOD identification challenge by introducing an initialization scheme which provides reasonably larger PIs of the OOD samples than those of the in-distribution samples. Benchmark and real-world experiments show that our method outperforms several state-of-the-art approaches with respect to predictive uncertainty quality, robustness, and OOD samples identification.

Variational methods for simulation-based inference

Manuel Glöckler · Michael Deistler · Jakob Macke

We present Sequential Neural Variational Inference (SNVI), an approach to perform Bayesian inference in models with intractable likelihoods. SNVI combines likelihood-estimation (or likelihood-ratio-estimation) with variational inference to achieve a scalable simulation-based inference approach. SNVI maintains the flexibility of likelihood(-ratio) estimation to allow arbitrary proposals for simulations, while simultaneously providing a functional estimate of the posterior distribution without requiring MCMC sampling. We present several variants of SNVI and demonstrate that they are substantially more computationally efficient than previous algorithms, without loss of accuracy on benchmark tasks. We apply SNVI to a neuroscience model of the pyloric network in the crab and demonstrate that it can infer the posterior distribution with one order of magnitude fewer simulations than previously reported. SNVI vastly reduces the computational cost of simulation-based inference while maintaining accuracy and flexibility, making it possible to tackle problems that were previously inaccessible.

Promoting Saliency From Depth: Deep Unsupervised RGB-D Saliency Detection

Wei Ji · Jingjing Li · Qi Bi · chuan guo · Jie Liu · Li Cheng

Growing interests in RGB-D salient object detection (RGB-D SOD) have been witnessed in recent years, owing partly to the popularity of depth sensors and the rapid progress of deep learning techniques. Unfortunately, existing RGB-D SOD methods typically demand large quantity of training images being thoroughly annotated at pixel-level. The laborious and time-consuming manual annotation has become a real bottleneck in various practical scenarios. On the other hand, current unsupervised RGB-D SOD methods still heavily rely on handcrafted feature representations. This inspires us to propose in this paper a deep unsupervised RGB-D saliency detection approach, which requires no manual pixel-level annotation during training. It is realized by two key ingredients in our training pipeline. First, a depth-disentangled saliency update (DSU) framework is designed to automatically produce pseudo-labels with iterative follow-up refinements, which provides more trustworthy supervision signals for training the saliency network. Second, an attentive training strategy is introduced to tackle the issue of noisy pseudo-labels, by properly re-weighting to highlight the more reliable pseudo-labels. Extensive experiments demonstrate the superior efficiency and effectiveness of our approach in tackling the challenging unsupervised RGB-D SOD scenarios. Moreover, our approach can also be adapted to work in fully-supervised situation. Empirical studies show the incorporation of our approach gives rise to notably performance improvement in existing supervised RGB-D SOD models.

Solving Inverse Problems in Medical Imaging with Score-Based Generative Models

Yang Song · Liyue Shen · Lei Xing · Stefano Ermon

Reconstructing medical images from partial measurements is an important inverse problem in Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Existing solutions based on machine learning typically train a model to directly map measurements to medical images, leveraging a training dataset of paired images and measurements. These measurements are typically synthesized from images using a fixed physical model of the measurement process, which hinders the generalization capability of models to unknown measurement processes. To address this issue, we propose a fully unsupervised technique for inverse problem solving, leveraging the recently introduced score-based generative models. Specifically, we first train a score-based generative model on medical images to capture their prior distribution. Given measurements and a physical model of the measurement process at test time, we introduce a sampling method to reconstruct an image consistent with both the prior and the observed measurements. Our method does not assume a fixed measurement process during training, and can thus be flexibly adapted to different measurement processes at test time. Empirically, we observe comparable or better performance to supervised learning techniques in several medical imaging tasks in CT and MRI, while demonstrating significantly better generalization to unknown measurement processes.

Modeling Label Space Interactions in Multi-label Classification using Box Embeddings

Dhruvesh Patel · Pavitra Dangati · Jay-Yoon Lee · Michael Boratko · Andrew McCallum

Multi-label classification is a challenging structured prediction task in which a set of output class labels are predicted for each input. Real-world datasets often have natural or latent taxonomic relationships between labels, making it desirable for models to employ label representations capable of capturing such taxonomies. Most existing multi-label classification methods do not do so, resulting in label predictions that are inconsistent with the taxonomic constraints, thus failing to accurately represent the fundamentals of problem setting. In this work, we introduce the multi-label box model (MBM), a multi-label classification method that combines the encoding power of neural networks with the inductive bias and probabilistic semantics of box embeddings (Vilnis, et al 2018). Box embeddings can be understood as trainable Venn-diagrams based on hyper-rectangles. Representing labels by boxes rather than vectors, MBM is able to capture taxonomic relations among labels. Furthermore, since box embeddings allow these relations to be learned by stochastic gradient descent from data, and to be read as calibrated conditional probabilities, our model is endowed with a high degree of interpretability. This interpretability also facilitates the injection of partial information about label-label relationships into model training, to further improve its consistency. We provide theoretical grounding for our method and show experimentally the model's ability to learn the true latent taxonomic structure from data. Through extensive empirical evaluations on both small and large-scale multi-label classification datasets, we show that BBM can significantly improve taxonomic consistency while preserving or surpassing the state-of-the-art predictive performance.

No Parameters Left Behind: Sensitivity Guided Adaptive Learning Rate for Training Large Transformer Models

Chen Liang · Haoming Jiang · Simiao Zuo · Xz W · Xiaodong Liu · Jianfeng Gao · Weizhu Chen · Tuo Zhao

Recent research has shown the existence of significant redundancy in large Transformer models. One can prune the redundant parameters without significantly sacrificing the generalization performance. However, we question whether the redundant parameters could have contributed more if they were properly trained. To answer this question, we propose a novel training strategy that encourages all parameters to be trained sufficiently. Specifically, we adaptively adjust the learning rate for each parameter according to its sensitivity, a robust gradient-based measure reflecting this parameter's contribution to the model performance. A parameter with low sensitivity is redundant, and we improve its fitting by increasing its learning rate. In contrast, a parameter with high sensitivity is well-trained, and we regularize it by decreasing its learning rate to prevent further overfitting. We conduct extensive experiments on natural language understanding, neural machine translation, and image classification to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed schedule. Analysis shows that the proposed schedule indeed reduces the redundancy and improves generalization performance.

Frequency-aware SGD for Efficient Embedding Learning with Provable Benefits

Yan Li · Dhruv Choudhary · Xiaohan Wei · Baichuan Yuan · Bhargav Bhushanam · Tuo Zhao · Guanghui Lan

Embedding learning has found widespread applications in recommendation systems and natural language modeling, among other domains. To learn quality embeddings efficiently, adaptive learning rate algorithms have demonstrated superior empirical performance over SGD, largely accredited to their token-dependent learning rate. However, the underlying mechanism for the efficiency of token-dependent learning rate remains underexplored. We show that incorporating frequency information of tokens in the embedding learning problems leads to provably efficient algorithms, and demonstrate that common adaptive algorithms implicitly exploit the frequency information to a large extent. Specifically, we propose (Counter-based) Frequency-aware Stochastic Gradient Descent, which applies a frequency-dependent learning rate for each token, and exhibits provable speed-up compared to SGD when the token distribution is imbalanced. Empirically, we show the proposed algorithms are able to improve or match the performance of adaptive algorithms on benchmark recommendation tasks and a large-scale industrial recommendation system, closing the performance gap between SGD and adaptive algorithms. Our results are the first to show token-dependent learning rate provably improves convergence for non-convex embedding learning problems.

Towards Model Agnostic Federated Learning Using Knowledge Distillation

Andrei Afonin · Sai Karimireddy

Is it possible to design an universal API for federated learning using which an ad-hoc group of data-holders (agents) collaborate with each other and perform federated learning? Such an API would necessarily need to be model-agnostic i.e. make no assumption about the model architecture being used by the agents, and also cannot rely on having representative public data at hand. Knowledge distillation (KD) is the obvious tool of choice to design such protocols. However, surprisingly, we show that most natural KD-based federated learning protocols have poor performance. To investigate this, we propose a new theoretical framework, Federated Kernel ridge regression, which can capture both model heterogeneity as well as data heterogeneity. Our analysis shows that the degradation is largely due to a fundamental limitation of knowledge distillation under data heterogeneity. We further validate our framework by analyzing and designing new protocols based on KD. Their performance on real world experiments using neural networks, though still unsatisfactory, closely matches our theoretical predictions.

Closed-form Sample Probing for Learning Generative Models in Zero-shot Learning

Samet Cetin · Orhun Baran · Ramazan Gokberk Cinbis

Generative model based approaches have led to significant advances in zero-shot learning (ZSL) over the past few years. These approaches typically aim to learn a conditional generator that synthesizes training samples of classes conditioned on class definitions. The final zero-shot learning model is then obtained by training a supervised classification model over the real and/or synthesized training samples of seen and unseen classes, combined. Therefore, naturally, the generative model needs to produce not only relevant samples, but also those that are sufficiently rich for classifier training purposes, which is handled by various heuristics in existing works. In this paper, we introduce a principled approach for training generative models {\em directly} for training data generation purposes. Our main observation is that the use of closed-form models opens doors to end-to-end training thanks to the differentiability of the solvers. In our approach, at each generative model update step, we fit a task-specific closed-form ZSL model from generated samples, and measure its loss on novel samples all within the compute graph, a procedure that we refer to as {\em sample probing}. In this manner, the generator receives feedback directly based on the value of its samples for model training purposes. Our experimental results show that the proposed sample probing approach improves the ZSL results even when integrated into state-of-the-art generative models.

Minimax Optimality (Probably) Doesn't Imply Distribution Learning for GANs

Sitan Chen · Jerry Li · Yuanzhi Li · Raghu Meka

Arguably the most fundamental question in the theory of generative adversarial networks (GANs) is to understand when GANs can actually learn the underlying distribution. Theoretical and empirical evidence (see e.g. Arora-Risteski-Zhang '18) suggest local optimality of the empirical training objective is insufficient, yet it does not rule out the possibility that achieving a true population minimax optimal solution might imply distribution learning. In this paper, we show that standard cryptographic assumptions imply that this stronger condition is still insufficient. Namely, we show that if local pseudorandom generators (PRGs) exist, then for a large family of natural target distributions, there are ReLU network generators of constant depth and poly size which take Gaussian random seeds so that (i) the output is far in Wasserstein distance from the target distribution, but (ii) no polynomially large Lipschitz discriminator ReLU network can detect this. This implies that even achieving a population minimax optimal solution to the Wasserstein GAN objective is likely insufficient for distribution learning. Our techniques reveal a deep connection between GANs and PRGs, which we believe will lead to further insights into the computational landscape of GANs.

Learning Value Functions from Undirected State-only Experience

Matthew Chang · Arjun Gupta · Saurabh Gupta

This paper tackles the problem of learning value functions from undirected state-only experience (state transitions without action labels i.e. (s,s',r) tuples). We first theoretically characterize the applicability of Q-learning in this setting. We show that tabular Q-learning in discrete Markov decision processes (MDPs) learns the same value function under any arbitrary refinement of the action space. This theoretical result motivates the design of Latent Action Q-learning or LAQ, an offline RL method that can learn effective value functions from state-only experience. Latent Action Q-learning (LAQ) learns value functions using Q-learning on discrete latent actions obtained through a latent-variable future prediction model. We show that LAQ can recover value functions that have high correlation with value functions learned using ground truth actions. Value functions learned using LAQ lead to sample efficient acquisition of goal-directed behavior, can be used with domain-specific low-level controllers, and facilitate transfer across embodiments. Our experiments in 5 environments ranging from 2D grid world to 3D visual navigation in realistic environments demonstrate the benefits of LAQ over simpler alternatives, imitation learning oracles, and competing methods.

Data Efficient Language-Supervised Zero-Shot Recognition with Optimal Transport Distillation

Bichen Wu · Ruizhe Cheng · Peizhao Zhang · Tianren Gao · Joseph E Gonzalez · Peter Vajda

Traditional computer vision models are trained to predict a fixed set of predefined categories. Recently, natural language has been shown to be a broader and richer source of supervision that provides finer descriptions to visual concepts than supervised "gold" labels. Previous works, such as CLIP, use InfoNCE loss to train a model to predict the pairing between images and text captions. CLIP, however, is data hungry and requires more than 400M image-text pairs for training. The inefficiency can be \textit{partially} attributed to the fact that the image-text pairs are noisy. To address this, we propose OTTER (Optimal TransporT distillation for Efficient zero-shot Recognition), which uses online entropic optimal transport to find a soft image-text match as labels for contrastive learning. Based on pretrained image and text encoders, models trained with OTTER achieve strong performance with only 3M image text pairs. Compared with InfoNCE loss, label smoothing, and knowledge distillation, OTTER consistently outperforms these baselines in zero-shot evaluation on Google Open Images (19,958 classes) and multi-labeled ImageNet 10K (10032 classes) from Tencent ML-Images. Over 42 evaluations on 7 different dataset/architecture settings x 6 metrics, OTTER outperforms (32) or ties (2) all baselines in 34 of them. Our source code is open sourced at

Provably convergent quasistatic dynamics for mean-field two-player zero-sum games

Chao Ma · Lexing Ying

In this paper, we study the problem of finding mixed Nash equilibrium for mean-field two-player zero-sum games. Solving this problem requires optimizing over two probability distributions. We consider a quasistatic Wasserstein gradient flow dynamics in which one probability distribution follows the Wasserstein gradient flow, while the other one is always at the equilibrium. Theoretical analysis are conducted on this dynamics, showing its convergence to the mixed Nash equilibrium under mild conditions. Inspired by the continuous dynamics of probability distributions, we derive a quasistatic Langevin gradient descent method with inner-outer iterations, and test the method on different problems, including training mixture of GANs.

Temporal Efficient Training of Spiking Neural Network via Gradient Re-weighting

Shikuang Deng · Yuhang Li · Shanghang Zhang · Shi Gu

Recently, brain-inspired spiking neuron networks (SNNs) have attracted widespread research interest because of their event-driven and energy-efficient characteristics. It is difficult to efficiently train deep SNNs due to the non-differentiability of its activation function, which disables the typically used gradient descent approaches for traditional artificial neural networks (ANNs). Although the adoption of surrogate gradient (SG) formally allows for the back-propagation of losses, the discrete spiking mechanism actually differentiates the loss landscape of SNNs from that of ANNs, failing the surrogate gradient methods to achieve comparable accuracy as for ANNs. In this paper, we first analyze why the current direct training approach with surrogate gradient results in SNNs with poor generalizability. Then we introduce the temporal efficient training (TET) approach to compensate for the loss of momentum in the gradient descent with SG so that the training process can converge into flatter minima with better generalizability. Meanwhile, we demonstrate that TET improves the temporal scalability of SNN and induces a temporal inheritable training for acceleration. Our method consistently outperforms the SOTA on all reported mainstream datasets, including CIFAR-10/100 and ImageNet. Remarkably on DVS-CIFAR10, we obtained 83% top-1 accuracy, over 10% improvement compared to existing state of the art.

Fairness Guarantees under Demographic Shift

Stephen Giguere · Blossom Metevier · Bruno Silva · Yuriy Brun · Philip Thomas · Scott Niekum

Recent studies have demonstrated that using machine learning for social applications can lead to injustice in the form of racist, sexist, and otherwise unfair and discriminatory outcomes. To address this challenge, recent machine learning algorithms have been designed to limit the likelihood such unfair behaviors will occur. However, these approaches typically assume the data used for training is representative of what will be encountered once the model is deployed, thus limiting their usefulness. In particular, if certain subgroups of the population become more or less probable after the model is deployed (a phenomenon we call demographic shift), the fair-ness assurances provided by prior algorithms are often invalid. We consider the impact of demographic shift and present a class of algorithms, called Shifty algorithms, that provide high-confidence behavioral guarantees that hold under demographic shift. Shifty is the first technique of its kind and demonstrates an effective strategy for designing algorithms to overcome the challenges demographic shift poses. We evaluate Shifty-ttest, an implementation of Shifty based on Student’s 𝑡-test, and, using a real-world data set of university entrance exams and subsequent student success, show that the models output by our algorithm avoid unfair bias under demo-graphic shift, unlike existing methods. Our experiments demonstrate that our algorithm’s high-confidence fairness guarantees are valid in practice and that our algorithm is an effective tool for training models that are fair when demographic shift occurs.

Multitask Prompted Training Enables Zero-Shot Task Generalization

Victor Sanh · Albert Webson · Colin Raffel · Stephen Bach · Lintang Sutawika · Zaid Alyafeai · Antoine Chaffin · Arnaud Stiegler · Arun Raja · Manan Dey · M Saiful Bari · Canwen Xu · Urmish Thakker · Shanya Sharma · Eliza Szczechla · Taewoon Kim · Gunjan Chhablani · Nihal Nayak · Debajyoti Datta · Jonathan Chang · Mike Tian-Jian Jiang · Han Wang · Matteo Manica · Sheng Shen · Zheng Xin Yong · Harshit Pandey · Rachel Bawden · Thomas Wang · Trishala Neeraj · Jos Rozen · Abheesht Sharma · Andrea Santilli · Thibault Fevry · Jason Fries · Ryan Teehan · Teven Le Scao · Stella R Biderman · Leo Gao · Thomas Wolf · Alexander M Rush

Large language models have recently been shown to attain reasonable zero-shot generalization on a diverse set of tasks (Brown et al., 2020). It has been hypothesized that this is a consequence of implicit multitask learning in language models’ pretraining (Radford et al., 2019). Can zero-shot generalization instead be directly induced by explicit multitask learning? To test this question at scale, we develop a system for easily mapping any natural language tasks into a human-readable prompted form. We convert a large set of supervised datasets, each with multiple prompts with diverse wording. These prompted datasets allow for benchmarking the ability of a model to perform completely unseen tasks specified in natural language. We fine-tune a pretrained encoder-decoder model (Raffel et al., 2020; Lester et al., 2021) on this multitask mixture covering a wide variety of tasks. The model attains strong zero-shot performance on several datasets, often outperforming models 16× its size. Further, our model attains strong performance on a subset of tasks from the BIG-Bench benchmark, outperforming models 6× its size. All trained models are available at, and all prompts are available at

Learning Neural Contextual Bandits through Perturbed Rewards

Yiling Jia · Weitong ZHANG · Dongruo Zhou · Quanquan Gu · Hongning Wang

Thanks to the power of representation learning, neural contextual bandit algorithms demonstrate remarkable performance improvement against their classical counterparts. But because their exploration has to be performed in the entire neural network parameter space to obtain nearly optimal regret, the resulting computational cost is prohibitively high. We propose to perturb the rewards when updating the neural network to eliminate the need of explicit exploration and the corresponding computational overhead. We prove that a $\tilde{O}(\tilde{d}\sqrt{T})$ regret upper bound is still achievable under standard regularity conditions, where $T$ is the number of rounds of interactions and $\tilde{d}$ is the effective dimension of a neural tangent kernel matrix. Extensive comparisons with several benchmark contextual bandit algorithms, including two recent neural contextual bandit models, demonstrate the effectiveness and computational efficiency of our proposed neural bandit algorithm.

Doubly Adaptive Scaled Algorithm for Machine Learning Using Second-Order Information

Majid Jahani · Sergey Rusakov · Zheng Shi · Peter Richtarik · Michael W Mahoney · Martin Takac

We present a novel adaptive optimization algorithm for large-scale machine learning problems. Equipped with a low-cost estimate of local curvature and Lipschitz smoothness, our method dynamically adapts the search direction and step-size. The search direction contains gradient information preconditioned by a well-scaled diagonal preconditioning matrix that captures the local curvature information. Our methodology does not require the tedious task of learning rate tuning, as the learning rate is updated automatically without adding an extra hyper-parameter. We provide convergence guarantees on a comprehensive collection of optimization problems, including convex, strongly convex, and nonconvex problems, in both deterministic and stochastic regimes. We also conduct an extensive empirical evaluation on standard machine learning problems, justifying our algorithm's versatility and demonstrating its strong performance compared to other start-of-the-art first-order and second-order methods.

Rethinking Network Design and Local Geometry in Point Cloud: A Simple Residual MLP Framework

Xu Ma · Can Qin · Haoxuan You · Haoxi Ran · Yun Fu

Point cloud analysis is challenging due to irregularity and unordered data structure. To capture the 3D geometries, prior works mainly rely on exploring sophisticated local geometric extractors, using convolution, graph, or attention mechanisms. These methods, however, incur unfavorable latency during inference and the performance saturates over the past few years. In this paper, we present an ovel perspective on this task. We find detailed local geometrical informationprobably is not the key to point cloud analysis – we introduce a pure residual MLP network, called PointMLP, which integrates no local geometrical extractors but still performs very competitively. Equipped with a proposed lightweight geometric-affine module to stabilize the training, PointMLP delivers the new state-of-the-art on multiple datasets. On the real-world ScanObjectNN dataset, our method even surpasses the prior best method by 3.3% accuracy. We emphasize PointMLP achieves this strong performance without any sophisticated operations, hence leading to a prominent inference speed. Compared to most recent CurveNet, PointMLP trains 2× faster, tests 7× faster, and is more accurate on ModelNet40 benchmark. We hope our PointMLP may help the community towards a better understanding of point cloud analysis. The code is available at

Data-Driven Offline Optimization for Architecting Hardware Accelerators

Aviral Kumar · Amir Yazdanbakhsh · Milad Hashemi · Kevin Swersky · Sergey Levine

To attain higher efficiency, the industry has gradually reformed towards application-specific hardware accelerators. While such a paradigm shift is already starting to show promising results, designers need to spend considerable manual effort and perform large number of time-consuming simulations to find accelerators that can accelerate multiple target applications while obeying design constraints. Moreover, such a simulation-driven approach must be re-run from scratch every time the set of target applications or design constraints change. An alternative paradigm is to use a data-driven, offline approach that utilizes logged simulation data, to architect hardware accelerators, without needing any form of simulations. Such an approach not only alleviates the need to run time-consuming simulation, but also enables data reuse and applies even when set of target applications changes. In this paper, we develop such a data-driven offline optimization method for designing hardware accelerators, dubbed PRIME, that enjoys all of these properties. Our approach learns a conservative, robust estimate of the desired cost function, utilizes infeasible points and optimizes the design against this estimate without any additional simulator queries during optimization. PRIME architects accelerators---tailored towards both single- and multi-applications---improving performance upon stat-of-the-art simulation-driven methods by about 1.54x and 1.20x, while considerably reducing the required total simulation time by 93% and 99%, respectively. In addition, PRIME also architects effective accelerators for unseen applications in a zero-shot setting, outperforming simulation-based methods by 1.26x.

P-Adapters: Robustly Extracting Factual Information from Language Models with Diverse Prompts

Benjamin Newman · Prafulla Kumar Choubey · Nazneen Rajani

Recent work (e.g. LAMA (Petroni et al., 2019)) has found that the quality of the factual information extracted from Large Language Models (LLMs) depends on the prompts used to query them. This inconsistency is problematic because different users will query LLMs for the same information using different wording, but should receive the same, accurate responses regardless. In this work we aim to address this shortcoming by introducing P-Adapters: lightweight models that sit between the embedding layer and first attention layer of LLMs. They take LLM embeddings as input and output continuous prompts that are used to query the LLM. Additionally, we investigate Mixture of Experts (MoE) models that learn a set of continuous prompts (the "experts") and select one to query the LLM. These require a separate classifier trained on human-annotated data to map natural language prompts to the continuous ones. P-Adapters perform comparably to the more complex MoE models in extracting factual information from BERT and RoBERTa while eliminating the need for additional annotations. P-Adapters show between 12-26% absolute improvement in precision and 36-50% absolute improvement in consistency over a baseline of just using natural language queries alone. Finally, we investigate what makes P-Adapters successful and conclude that a significant factor is access to the LLM's embeddings of the original natural language prompt, particularly the subject of the entity pair being queried.

Differentiable Scaffolding Tree for Molecule Optimization

Tianfan Fu · Wenhao Gao · Cao Xiao · Jacob Yasonik · Connor Coley · Jimeng Sun

The structural design of functional molecules, also called molecular optimization, is an essential chemical science and engineering task with important applications, such as drug discovery. Deep generative models and combinatorial optimization methods achieve initial success but still struggle with directly modeling discrete chemical structures and often heavily rely on brute-force enumeration. The challenge comes from the discrete and non-differentiable nature of molecule structures. To address this, we propose differentiable scaffolding tree (DST) that utilizes a learned knowledge network to convert discrete chemical structures to locally differentiable ones. DST enables a gradient-based optimization on a chemical graph structure by back-propagating the derivatives from the target properties through a graph neural network (GNN). Our empirical studies show the gradient-based molecular optimizations are both effective and sample efficient (in terms of oracle calling number). Furthermore, the learned graph parameters can also provide an explanation that helps domain experts understand the model output. The code repository (including processed data, trained model, demonstration, molecules with the highest property) is available at

Continuously Discovering Novel Strategies via Reward-Switching Policy Optimization

Zihan Zhou · Wei Fu · Bingliang Zhang · Yi Wu

We present Reward-Switching Policy Optimization (RSPO), a paradigm to discover diverse strategies in complex RL environments by iteratively finding novel policies that are both locally optimal and sufficiently different from existing ones. To encourage the learning policy to consistently converge towards a previously undiscovered local optimum, RSPO switches between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards via a trajectory-based novelty measurement during the optimization process. When a sampled trajectory is sufficiently distinct, RSPO performs standard policy optimization with extrinsic rewards. For trajectories with high likelihood under existing policies, RSPO utilizes an intrinsic diversity reward to promote exploration. Experiments show that RSPO is able to discover a wide spectrum of strategies in a variety of domains, ranging from single-agent particle-world tasks and MuJoCocontinuous control to multi-agent stag-hunt games and StarCraftII challenges.

Associated Learning: an Alternative to End-to-End Backpropagation that Works on CNN, RNN, and Transformer

Dennis Wu · Di-Nan Lin · Vincent Chen · Hung-Hsuan Chen

This paper studies Associate Learning (AL), an alternative methodology to the end-to-end backpropagation (BP). We introduce the workflow to convert a neural network into a proper structure such that AL can be used to learn the weights for various types of neural networks. We compared AL and BP on some of the most successful types of neural networks -- Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), Recurrent Neural Network (RNN), and Transformer. Experimental results show that AL consistently outperforms BP on various open datasets. We discuss possible reasons for AL's success and its limitations.

Maximizing Ensemble Diversity in Deep Reinforcement Learning

Hassam Sheikh · mariano Phielipp · Ladislau Boloni

Modern deep reinforcement learning (DRL) has been successful in solving a range of challenging sequential decision-making problems. Most of these algorithms use an ensemble of neural networks as their backbone structure and benefit from the diversity among the neural networks to achieve optimal results. Unfortunately, the members of the ensemble can converge to the same point either the parametric space or representation space during the training phase, therefore, losing all the leverage of an ensemble. In this paper, we describe Maximize Ensemble Diversity in Reinforcement Learning (MED-RL), a set of regularization methods inspired from the economics and consensus optimization to improve diversity in the ensemble-based deep reinforcement learning methods by encouraging inequality between the networks during training. We integrated MED-RL in five of the most common ensemble-based deep RL algorithms for both continuous and discrete control tasks and evaluated on six Mujoco environments and six Atari games. Our results show that MED-RL augmented algorithms outperform their un-regularized counterparts significantly and in some cases achieved more than 300$\%$ in performance gains.

One After Another: Learning Incremental Skills for a Changing World

Nur Muhammad Shafiullah · Lerrel Pinto

Reward-free, unsupervised discovery of skills is an attractive alternative to the bottleneck of hand-designing rewards in environments where task supervision is scarce or expensive. However, current skill pre-training methods, like many RL techniques, make a fundamental assumption -- stationary environments during training. Traditional methods learn all their skills simultaneously, which makes it difficult for them to both quickly adapt to changes in the environment, and to not forget earlier skills after such adaptation. On the other hand, in an evolving or expanding environment, skill learning must be able to adapt fast to new environment situations while not forgetting previously learned skills. These two conditions make it difficult for classic skill discovery to do well in an evolving environment. In this work, we propose a new framework for skill discovery, where skills are learned one after another in an incremental fashion. This framework allows newly learned skills to adapt to new environment or agent dynamics, while the fixed old skills ensure the agent doesn't forget a learned skill. We demonstrate experimentally that in both evolving and static environments, incremental skills significantly outperform current state-of-the-art skill discovery methods on both skill quality and the ability to solve downstream tasks. Videos for learned skills and code are made public on

Do Users Benefit From Interpretable Vision? A User Study, Baseline, And Dataset

Leon Sixt · Martin Schuessler · Oana-Iuliana Popescu · Philipp Weiß · Tim Landgraf

A variety of methods exist to explain image classification models. However, whether they provide any benefit to users over simply comparing various inputs and the model’s respective predictions remains unclear. We conducted a user study (N=240) to test how such a baseline explanation technique performs against concept-based and counterfactual explanations. To this end, we contribute a synthetic dataset generator capable of biasing individual attributes and quantifying their relevance to the model. In a study, we assess if participants can identify the relevant set of attributes compared to the ground-truth. Our results show that the baseline outperformed concept-based explanations. Counterfactual explanations from an invertible neural network performed similarly as the baseline. Still, they allowed users to identify some attributes more accurately. Our results highlight the importance of measuring how well users can reason about biases of a model, rather than solely relying on technical evaluations or proxy tasks. We open-source our study and dataset so it can serve as a blue-print for future studies.

Revisiting flow generative models for Out-of-distribution detection

Dihong Jiang · Sun Sun · Yaoliang Yu

Deep generative models have been widely used in practical applications such as the detection of out-of-distribution (OOD) data. In this work, we aim to re-examine the potential of generative flow models in OOD detection. We first propose a simple combination of univariate one-sample statistical test (e.g., Kolmogorov-Smirnov) and random projections in the latent space of flow models to perform OOD detection. Then, we propose a two-sample version of our test to account for imperfect flow models. Quite distinctly, our method does not pose parametric assumptions on OOD data and is capable of exploiting any flow model. Experimentally, firstly we confirm the efficacy of our method against state-of-the-art baselines through extensive experiments on several image datasets; secondly we investigate the relationship between model accuracy (e.g., the generation quality) and the OOD detection performance, and found surprisingly that they are not always positively correlated; and thirdly we show that detection in the latent space of flow models generally outperforms detection in the sample space across various OOD datasets, hence highlighting the benefits of training a flow model.

GradMax: Growing Neural Networks using Gradient Information

Utku Evci · Bart van Merrienboer · Thomas Unterthiner · Fabian Pedregosa · Max Vladymyrov

The architecture and the parameters of neural networks are often optimized independently, which requires costly retraining of the parameters whenever the architecture is modified. In this work we instead focus on growing the architecture without requiring costly retraining. We present a method that adds new neurons during training without impacting what is already learned, while improving the training dynamics. We do this by maximizing the gradients of the new neurons and find an approximation to the optimal initialization by means of the singular value decomposition (SVD). We call this technique Gradient Maximizing Growth (GradMax) and demonstrate its effectiveness in variety of vision tasks and architectures.

A global convergence theory for deep ReLU implicit networks via over-parameterization

Tianxiang Gao · Hailiang Liu · Jia Liu · Hridesh Rajan · Hongyang Gao

Implicit deep learning has received increasing attention recently due to the fact that it generalizes the recursive prediction rule of many commonly used neural network architectures. Its prediction rule is provided implicitly based on the solution of an equilibrium equation. Although a line of recent empirical studies has demonstrated its superior performances, the theoretical understanding of implicit neural networks is limited. In general, the equilibrium equation may not be well-posed during the training. As a result, there is no guarantee that a vanilla (stochastic) gradient descent (SGD) training nonlinear implicit neural networks can converge. This paper fills the gap by analyzing the gradient flow of Rectified Linear Unit (ReLU) activated implicit neural networks. For an $m$ width implicit neural network with ReLU activation and $n$ training samples, we show that a randomly initialized gradient descent converges to a global minimum at a linear rate for the square loss function if the implicit neural network is over-parameterized. It is worth noting that, unlike existing works on the convergence of (S)GD on finite-layer over-parameterized neural networks, our convergence results hold for implicit neural networks, where the number of layers is infinite.

Cross-Trajectory Representation Learning for Zero-Shot Generalization in RL

Bogdan Mazoure · Ahmed Ahmed · R Devon Hjelm · Andrey Kolobov · Patrick MacAlpine

A highly desirable property of a reinforcement learning (RL) agent -- and a major difficulty for deep RL approaches -- is the ability to generalize policies learned on a few tasks over a high-dimensional observation space to similar tasks not seen during training. Many promising approaches to this challenge consider RL as a process of training two functions simultaneously: a complex nonlinear encoder that maps high-dimensional observations to a latent representation space, and a simple linear policy over this space. We posit that a superior encoder for zero-shot generalization in RL can be trained by using solely an auxiliary SSL objective if the training process encourages the encoder to map behaviorally similar observations to similar representations, as reward-based signal can cause overfitting in the encoder (Raileanu et al., 2021). We propose Cross-Trajectory Representation Learning (CTRL), a method that runs within an RL agent and conditions its encoder to recognize behavioral similarity in observations by applying a novel SSL objective to pairs of trajectories from the agent's policies. CTRL can be viewed as having the same effect as inducing a pseudo-bisimulation metric but, crucially, avoids the use of rewards and associated overfitting risks. Our experiments ablate various components of CTRL and demonstrate that in combination with PPO it achieves better generalization performance on the challenging Procgen benchmark suite (Cobbe et al., 2020).

A Reduction-Based Framework for Conservative Bandits and Reinforcement Learning

Yunchang Yang · Tianhao Wu · Han Zhong · Evrard Garcelon · Matteo Pirotta · Alessandro Lazaric · Liwei Wang · Simon Du

We study bandits and reinforcement learning (RL) subject to a conservative constraint where the agent is asked to perform at least as well as a given baseline policy. This setting is particular relevant in real-world domains including digital marketing, healthcare, production, finance, etc. In this paper, we present a reduction-based framework for conservative bandits and RL, in which our core technique is to calculate the necessary and sufficient budget obtained from running the baseline policy. For lower bounds, we improve the existing lower bound for conservative multi-armed bandits and obtain new lower bounds for conservative linear bandits, tabular RL and low-rank MDP, through a black-box reduction that turns a certain lower bound in the nonconservative setting into a new lower bound in the conservative setting. For upper bounds, in multi-armed bandits, linear bandits and tabular RL, our new upper bounds tighten or match existing ones with significantly simpler analyses. We also obtain a new upper bound for conservative low-rank MDP.

Improving Non-Autoregressive Translation Models Without Distillation

Xiao Shi (Gary) Huang · Felipe Perez · Maksims Volkovs

Transformer-based autoregressive (AR) machine translation models have achieved significant performance improvements, nearing human-level accuracy on some languages. The AR framework translates one token at a time which can be time consuming, especially for long sequences. To accelerate inference, recent work has been exploring non-autoregressive (NAR) approaches that translate blocks of tokens in parallel. Despite significant progress, leading NAR models still lag behind their AR counterparts, and only become competitive when trained with distillation. In this paper we investigate possible reasons behind this performance gap, namely, the indistinguishability of tokens, and mismatch between training and inference. We then propose the Conditional Masked Language Model with Correction (CMLMC) that addresses these problems. Empirically, we show that CMLMC achieves state-of-the-art NAR performance when trained on raw data without distillation and approaches AR performance on multiple datasets. Full code for this work will be released at the time of publication.

Finetuned Language Models are Zero-Shot Learners

Jason Wei · Maarten Bosma · Vincent Zhao · Kelvin Guu · Wei Yu · Brian Lester · Nan Du · Andrew Dai · Quoc V Le

This paper explores a simple method for improving the zero-shot learning abilities of language models. We show that instruction tuning—finetuning language models on a collection of datasets described via instructions—substantially improves zero-shot performance on unseen tasks. We take a 137B parameter pretrained language model and instruction tune it on over 60 NLP datasets verbalized via natural language instruction templates. We evaluate this instruction-tuned model, which we call FLAN, on unseen task types. FLAN substantially improves the performance of its unmodified counterpart and surpasses zero-shot 175B GPT-3 on 20 of 25 datasets that we evaluate. FLAN even outperforms few-shot GPT-3 by a large margin on ANLI, RTE, BoolQ, AI2-ARC, OpenbookQA, and StoryCloze. Ablation studies reveal that number of finetuning datasets, model scale, and natural language instructions are key to the success of instruction tuning.

Efficient Active Search for Combinatorial Optimization Problems

André Hottung · Yeong Dae Kwon · Kevin Tierney

Recently numerous machine learning based methods for combinatorial optimization problems have been proposed that learn to construct solutions in a sequential decision process via reinforcement learning. While these methods can be easily combined with search strategies like sampling and beam search, it is not straightforward to integrate them into a high-level search procedure offering strong search guidance. Bello et al. (2016) propose active search, which adjusts the weights of a (trained) model with respect to a single instance at test time using reinforcement learning. While active search is simple to implement, it is not competitive with state-of-the-art methods because adjusting all model weights for each test instance is very time and memory intensive. Instead of updating all model weights, we propose and evaluate three efficient active search strategies that only update a subset of parameters during the search. The proposed methods offer a simple way to significantly improve the search performance of a given model and outperform state-of-the-art machine learning based methods on combinatorial problems, even surpassing the well-known heuristic solver LKH3 on the capacitated vehicle routing problem. Finally, we show that (efficient) active search enables learned models to effectively solve instances that are much larger than those seen during training.

Subspace Regularizers for Few-Shot Class Incremental Learning

Afra Feyza Akyürek · Ekin Akyürek · Derry Wijaya · Jacob Andreas

Few-shot class incremental learning---the problem of updating a trained classifier to discriminate among an expanded set of classes with limited labeled data---is a key challenge for machine learning systems deployed in non-stationary environments. Existing approaches to the problem rely on complex model architectures and training procedures that are difficult to tune and re-use. In this paper, we present an extremely simple approach that enables the use of ordinary logistic regression classifiers for few-shot incremental learning. The key to this approach is a new family of \emph{subspace regularization} schemes that encourage weight vectors for new classes to lie close to the subspace spanned by the weights of existing classes. When combined with pretrained convolutional feature extractors, logistic regression models trained with subspace regularization outperform specialized, state-of-the-art approaches to few-shot incremental image classification by up to 22\% on the \textit{mini}ImageNet dataset. Because of its simplicity, subspace regularization can be straightforwardly extended to incorporate additional background information about the new classes (including class names and descriptions specified in natural language); these further improve accuracy by up to 2\%. Our results show that simple geometric regularization of class representations offer an effective tool for continual learning.

Finite-Time Convergence and Sample Complexity of Multi-Agent Actor-Critic Reinforcement Learning with Average Reward

FNU Hairi · Jia Liu · Songtao Lu

In this paper, we establish the first finite-time convergence result of the actor-critic algorithm for fully decentralized multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) problems with average reward. In this problem, a set of $N$ agents work cooperatively to maximize the global average reward through interacting with their neighbors over a communication network.We consider a practical MARL setting, where the rewards and actions of each agent are only known to itself, and the knowledge of joint actions of the agents is not assumed. Toward this end, we propose a mini-batch Markovian sampled fully decentralized actor-critic algorithm and analyze its finite-time convergence and sample complexity.We show that the sample complexity of this algorithm is $\mathcal{O}(N^{2}/\epsilon^{2}\log(N/\epsilon))$.Interestingly, this sample complexity bound matches that of the state-of-the-art single-agent actor-critic algorithms for reinforcement learning.

Planning in Stochastic Environments with a Learned Model

Ioannis Antonoglou · Julian Schrittwieser · Sherjil Ozair · Thomas Hubert · David Silver

Model-based reinforcement learning has proven highly successful. However, learning a model in isolation from its use during planning is problematic in complex environments. To date, the most effective techniques have instead combined value-equivalent model learning with powerful tree-search methods. This approach is exemplified by MuZero, which has achieved state-of-the-art performance in a wide range of domains, from board games to visually rich environments, with discrete and continuous action spaces, in online and offline settings. However, previous instantiations of this approach were limited to the use of deterministic models. This limits their performance in environments that are inherently stochastic, partially observed, or so large and complex that they appear stochastic to a finite agent. In this paper we extend this approach to learn and plan with stochastic models. Specifically, we introduce a new algorithm, Stochastic MuZero, that learns a stochastic model incorporating afterstates, and uses this model to perform a stochastic tree search. Stochastic MuZero matched or exceeded the state of the art in a set of canonical single and multi-agent environments, including 2048 and backgammon, while maintaining the same performance as standard MuZero in the game of Go.

Graph-Guided Network for Irregularly Sampled Multivariate Time Series

Xiang Zhang · Marko Zeman · Theodoros Tsiligkaridis · Marinka Zitnik

In many domains, including healthcare, biology, and climate science, time series are irregularly sampled with varying time intervals between successive readouts and different subsets of variables (sensors) observed at different time points. Here, we introduce RAINDROP, a graph neural network that embeds irregularly sampled and multivariate time series while also learning the dynamics of sensors purely from observational data. RAINDROP represents every sample as a separate sensor graph and models time-varying dependencies between sensors with a novel message passing operator. It estimates the latent sensor graph structure and leverages the structure together with nearby observations to predict misaligned readouts. This model can be interpreted as a graph neural network that sends messages over graphs that are optimized for capturing time-varying dependencies among sensors. We use RAINDROP to classify time series and interpret temporal dynamics on three healthcare and human activity datasets. RAINDROP outperforms state-of-the-art methods by up to 11.4% (absolute F1-score points), including techniques that deal with irregular sampling using fixed discretization and set functions. RAINDROP shows superiority in diverse setups, including challenging leave-sensor-out settings.


Huan Liu · George Zhang · Jun Chen · Ashish Khisti

We study an extension of lossy compression where the reconstruction distribution is different from the source distribution in order to account for distributional shift due to processing. We formulate this as a generalization of optimal transport with an entropy bottleneck to account for the rate constraint due to compression. We provide expressions for the tradeoff between compression rate and the achievable distortion with and without shared common randomness between the encoder and decoder. We study the examples of binary, uniform and Gaussian sources (in an asymptotic setting) in detail and demonstrate that shared randomness can strictly improve the tradeoff. For the case without common randomness and squared-Euclidean distortion, we show that the optimal solution partially decouples into the problem of optimal compression and transport and also characterize the penalty associated with fully decoupling them. We provide experimental results by training deep learning end-to-end compression systems for performing denoising on SVHN and super-resolution on MNIST suggesting consistency with our theoretical results.

POETREE: Interpretable Policy Learning with Adaptive Decision Trees

Alizée Pace · Alex Chan · Mihaela van der Schaar

Building models of human decision-making from observed behaviour is critical to better understand, diagnose and support real-world policies such as clinical care. As established policy learning approaches remain focused on imitation performance, they fall short of explaining the demonstrated decision-making process. Policy Extraction through decision Trees (POETREE) is a novel framework for interpretable policy learning, compatible with fully-offline and partially-observable clinical decision environments -- and builds probabilistic tree policies determining physician actions based on patients' observations and medical history. Fully-differentiable tree architectures are grown incrementally during optimization to adapt their complexity to the modelling task, and learn a representation of patient history through recurrence, resulting in decision tree policies that adapt over time with patient information. This policy learning method outperforms the state-of-the-art on real and synthetic medical datasets, both in terms of understanding, quantifying and evaluating observed behaviour as well as in accurately replicating it -- with potential to improve future decision support systems.

Latent Variable Sequential Set Transformers for Joint Multi-Agent Motion Prediction

Roger Girgis · Florian Golemo · Felipe Codevilla · Martin Weiss · Jim D'Souza · Samira Ebrahimi Kahou · Felix Heide · Chris J Pal

Robust multi-agent trajectory prediction is essential for the safe control of robotic systems. A major challenge is to efficiently learn a representation that approximates the true joint distribution of contextual, social, and temporal information to enable planning. We propose Latent Variable Sequential Set Transformers which are encoder-decoder architectures that generate scene-consistent multi-agent trajectories. We refer to these architectures as “AutoBots”. The encoder is a stack of interleaved temporal and social multi-head self-attention (MHSA) modules which alternately perform equivariant processing across the temporal and social dimensions. The decoder employs learnable seed parameters in combination with temporal and social MHSA modules allowing it to perform inference over theentire future scene in a single forward pass efficiently. AutoBots can produce either the trajectory of one ego-agent or a distribution over the future trajectories for all agents in the scene. For the single-agent prediction case, our model achieves top results on the global nuScenes vehicle motion prediction leaderboard, and produces strong results on the Argoverse vehicle prediction challenge. In the multi-agent setting, we evaluate on the synthetic partition of TrajNet++ dataset to showcase the model’s socially-consistent predictions. We also demonstrate our model on general sequences of sets and provide illustrative experiments modelling the sequential structure of the multiple strokes that make up symbols in the Omniglot data. A distinguishing feature of AutoBots is that all models are trainable on asingle desktop GPU (1080 Ti) in under 48h.

Leveraging unlabeled data to predict out-of-distribution performance

Saurabh Garg · Sivaraman Balakrishnan · Zachary Lipton · Behnam Neyshabur · Hanie Sedghi

Real-world machine learning deployments are characterized by mismatches between the source (training) and target (test) distributionsthat may cause performance drops. In this work, we investigate methods for predicting the target domain accuracy using only labeled source data and unlabeled target data. We propose Average Thresholded Confidence (ATC), a practical method that learns a \emph{threshold} on the model's confidence, predicting accuracy as the fraction of unlabeled examples for which model confidence exceeds that threshold. ATC outperforms previous methods across several model architectures, types of distribution shifts (e.g., due to synthetic corruptions, dataset reproduction, or novel subpopulations), and datasets (\textsc{Wilds}-FMoW, ImageNet, \breeds, CIFAR, and MNIST). In our experiments, ATC estimates target performance $2\text{--}4\times$ more accurately than prior methods. We also explore the theoretical foundations of the problem, proving that, in general, identifying the accuracy is just as hard as identifying the optimal predictor and thus, the efficacy of any method rests upon (perhaps unstated) assumptions on the nature of the shift. Finally, analyzing our method on some toy distributions, we provide insights concerning when it works.

Train Short, Test Long: Attention with Linear Biases Enables Input Length Extrapolation

Ofir Press · Noah Smith · Mike Lewis

Since the introduction of the transformer model by Vaswani et al. (2017), a fundamental question has yet to be answered: how does a model achieve extrapolation at inference time for sequences that are longer than it saw during training? We first show that extrapolation can be enabled by simply changing the position representation method, though we find that current methods do not allow for efficient extrapolation. We therefore introduce a simpler and more efficient position method, Attention with Linear Biases (ALiBi). ALiBi does not add positional embeddings to word embeddings; instead, it biases query-key attention scores with a penalty that is proportional to their distance. We show that this method trains a 1.3 billion parameter model on input sequences of length 1024 that extrapolates to input sequences of length 2048, achieving the same perplexity as a sinusoidal position embedding model trained on inputs of length 2048 but training 11% faster and using 11% less memory. ALiBi's inductive bias towards recency also leads it to outperform multiple strong position methods on the WikiText-103 benchmark.

GradSign: Model Performance Inference with Theoretical Insights

Zhihao Zhang · Zhihao Jia

A key challenge in neural architecture search (NAS) is quickly inferring the predictive performance of a broad spectrum of networks to discover statistically accurate and computationally efficient ones. We refer to this task as model performance inference (MPI). The current practice for efficient MPI is gradient-based methods that leverage the gradients of a network at initialization to infer its performance. However, existing gradient-based methods rely only on heuristic metrics and lack the necessary theoretical foundations to consolidate their designs. We propose GradSign, an accurate, simple, and flexible metric for model performance inference with theoretical insights. The key idea behind GradSign is a quantity Ψ to analyze the sample-wise optimization landscape of different networks. Theoretically, we show that Ψ is an upper bound for both the training and true population losses of a neural network under reasonable assumptions. However, it is computationally prohibitive to directly calculate Ψ for modern neural networks. Toaddress this challenge, we design GradSign, an accurate and simple approximation of Ψ using the gradients of a network evaluated at a random initialization state. Evaluation on seven NAS benchmarks across three training datasets shows that GradSign generalizes well to real-world networks and consistently outperforms state-of-the-art gradient-based methods for MPI evaluated by Spearman’s ρ and Kendall’s Tau. Additionally, we integrate GradSign into four existing NAS algorithms and show that the GradSign-assisted NAS algorithms outperform their vanilla counterparts by improving the accuracies of best-discovered networks by up to 0.3%, 1.1%, and 1.0% on three real-world tasks.

The MultiBERTs: BERT Reproductions for Robustness Analysis

Thibault Sellam · Steve Yadlowsky · Ian Tenney · Jason Wei · Naomi Saphra · Alexander D'Amour · Tal Linzen · Jasmijn Bastings · Iulia Turc · Jacob Eisenstein · Dipanjan Das · Ellie Pavlick

Experiments with pre-trained models such as BERT are often based on a single checkpoint. While the conclusions drawn apply to the artifact tested in the experiment (i.e., the particular instance of the model), it is not always clear whether they hold for the more general procedure which includes the architecture, training data, initialization scheme, and loss function. Recent work has shown that repeating the pre-training process can lead to substantially different performance, suggesting that an alternative strategy is needed to make principled statements about procedures. To enable researchers to draw more robust conclusions, we introduce MultiBERTs, a set of 25 BERT-Base checkpoints, trained with similar hyper-parameters as the original BERT model but differing in random weight initialization and shuffling of training data. We also define the Multi-Bootstrap, a non-parametric bootstrap method for statistical inference designed for settings where there are multiple pre-trained models and limited test data. To illustrate our approach, we present a case study of gender bias in coreference resolution, in which the Multi-Bootstrap lets us measure effects that may not be detected with a single checkpoint. The models and statistical library are available online, along with an additional set of 140 intermediate checkpoints captured during pre-training to facilitate research on learning dynamics.

On the Pitfalls of Heteroscedastic Uncertainty Estimation with Probabilistic Neural Networks

Maximilian Seitzer · Arash Tavakoli · Dimitrije Antic · Georg Martius

Capturing aleatoric uncertainty is a critical part of many machine learning systems. In deep learning, a common approach to this end is to train a neural network to estimate the parameters of a heteroscedastic Gaussian distribution by maximizing the logarithm of the likelihood function under the observed data. In this work, we examine this approach and identify potential hazards associated with the use of log-likelihood in conjunction with gradient-based optimizers. First, we present a synthetic example illustrating how this approach can lead to very poor but stable parameter estimates. Second, we identify the culprit to be the log-likelihood loss, along with certain conditions that exacerbate the issue. Third, we present an alternative formulation, termed $\beta$-NLL, in which each data point's contribution to the loss is weighted by the $\beta$-exponentiated variance estimate. We show that using an appropriate $\beta$ largely mitigates the issue in our illustrative example. Fourth, we evaluate this approach on a range of domains and tasks and show that it achieves considerable improvements and performs more robustly concerning hyperparameters, both in predictive RMSE and log-likelihood criteria.

Provable Adaptation across Multiway Domains via Representation Learning

Zhili Feng · Shaobo Han · Simon Du

This paper studies zero-shot domain adaptation where each domain is indexed on a multi-dimensional array, and we only have data from a small subset of domains. Our goal is to produce predictors that perform well on \emph{unseen} domains. We propose a model which consists of a domain-invariant latent representation layer and a domain-specific linear prediction layer with a low-rank tensor structure. Theoretically, we present explicit sample complexity bounds to characterize the prediction error on unseen domains in terms of the number of domains with training data and the number of data per domain. To our knowledge, this is the first finite-sample guarantee for zero-shot domain adaptation. In addition, we provide experiments on two-way MNIST and four-way fiber sensing datasets to demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed model.

Open-Set Recognition: A Good Closed-Set Classifier is All You Need

Sagar Vaze · Kai Han · Andrea Vedaldi · Andrew Zisserman

The ability to identify whether or not a test sample belongs to one of the semantic classes in a classifier's training set is critical to practical deployment of the model. This task is termed open-set recognition (OSR) and has received significant attention in recent years. In this paper, we first demonstrate that the ability of a classifier to make the 'none-of-above' decision is highly correlated with its accuracy on the closed-set classes. We find that this relationship holds across loss objectives and architectures, and further demonstrate the trend both on the standard OSR benchmarks as well as on a large-scale ImageNet evaluation. Second, we use this correlation to boost the performance of the maximum softmax probability OSR 'baseline' by improving its closed-set accuracy, and with this strong baseline achieve state-of-the-art on a number of OSR benchmarks. Similarly, we boost the performance of the existing state-of-the-art method by improving its closed-set accuracy, but the resulting discrepancy with the strong baseline is marginal. Our third contribution is to present the 'Semantic Shift Benchmark' (SSB), which better respects the task of detecting semantic novelty, as opposed to low-level distributional shifts as tackled by neighbouring machine learning fields. On this new evaluation, we again demonstrate that there is negligible difference between the strong baseline and the existing state-of-the-art. Code available at:

Discrete Representations Strengthen Vision Transformer Robustness

Chengzhi Mao · Lu Jiang · Mostafa Dehghani · Carl Vondrick · Rahul Sukthankar · Irfan Essa

Vision Transformer (ViT) is emerging as the state-of-the-art architecture for image recognition. While recent studies suggest that ViTs are more robust than their convolutional counterparts, our experiments find that ViTs are overly reliant on local features (\eg, nuisances and texture) and fail to make adequate use of global context (\eg, shape and structure). As a result, ViTs fail to generalize to out-of-distribution, real-world data. To address this deficiency, we present a simple and effective architecture modification to ViT's input layer by adding discrete tokens produced by a vector-quantized encoder. Different from the standard continuous pixel tokens, discrete tokens are invariant under small perturbations and contain less information individually, which promote ViTs to learn global information that is invariant. Experimental results demonstrate that adding discrete representation on four architecture variants strengthens ViT robustness by up to 12\% across seven ImageNet robustness benchmarks while maintaining the performance on ImageNet.

Understanding Dimensional Collapse in Contrastive Self-supervised Learning

Li Jing · Pascal Vincent · Yann LeCun · Yuandong Tian

Self-supervised visual representation learning aims to learn useful representations without relying on human annotations. Joint embedding approach bases on maximizing the agreement between embedding vectors from different views of the same image. Various methods have been proposed to solve the collapsing problem where all embedding vectors collapse to a trivial constant solution. Among these methods, contrastive learning prevents collapse via negative sample pairs. It has been shown that non-contrastive methods suffer from a lesser collapse problem of a different nature: dimensional collapse, whereby the embedding vectors end up spanning a lower-dimensional subspace instead of the entire available embedding space. Here, we show that dimensional collapse also happens in contrastive learning. In this paper, we shed light on the dynamics at play in contrastive learning that leads to dimensional collapse. Inspired by our theory, we propose a novel contrastive learning method, called DirectCLR, which directly optimizes the representation space without relying on a trainable projector. Experiments show that DirectCLR outperforms SimCLR with a trainable linear projector on ImageNet.

Likelihood Training of Schrödinger Bridge using Forward-Backward SDEs Theory

Tianrong Chen · Guan-Horng Liu · Evangelos Theodorou

Schrödinger Bridge (SB) is an entropy-regularized optimal transport problem that has received increasing attention in deep generative modeling for its mathematical flexibility compared to the Scored-based Generative Model (SGM). However, it remains unclear whether the optimization principle of SB relates to the modern training of deep generative models, which often rely on constructing log-likelihood objectives.This raises questions on the suitability of SB models as a principled alternative for generative applications. In this work, we present a novel computational framework for likelihood training of SB models grounded on Forward-Backward Stochastic Differential Equations Theory – a mathematical methodology appeared in stochastic optimal control that transforms the optimality condition of SB into a set of SDEs. Crucially, these SDEs can be used to construct the likelihood objectives for SB that, surprisingly, generalizes the ones for SGM as special cases. This leads to a new optimization principle that inherits the same SB optimality yet without losing applications of modern generative training techniques, and we show that the resulting training algorithm achieves comparable results on generating realistic images on MNIST, CelebA, and CIFAR10. Our code is available at

Permutation-Based SGD: Is Random Optimal?

Shashank Rajput · Kangwook Lee · Dimitris Papailiopoulos

A recent line of ground-breaking results for permutation-based SGD has corroborated a widely observed phenomenon: random permutations offer faster convergence than with-replacement sampling. However, is random optimal? We show that this depends heavily on what functions we are optimizing, and the convergence gap between optimal and random permutations can vary from exponential to nonexistent. We first show that for 1-dimensional strongly convex functions, with smooth second derivatives, there exist optimal permutations that offer exponentially faster convergence compared to random. However, for general strongly convex functions, random permutations are optimal. Finally, we show that for quadratic, strongly-convex functions, there are easy-to-construct permutations that lead to accelerated convergence compared to random. Our results suggest that a general convergence characterization of optimal permutations cannot capture the nuances of individual function classes, and can mistakenly indicate that one cannot do much better than random.

A Fine-Tuning Approach to Belief State Modeling

Samuel Sokota · Hengyuan Hu · David Wu · Zico Kolter · Jakob Foerster · Noam Brown

We investigate the challenge of modeling the belief state of a partially observable Markov system, given sample-access to its dynamics model. This problem setting is often approached using parametric sequential generative modeling methods. However, these methods do not leverage any additional computation at inference time to increase their accuracy. Moreover, applying these methods to belief state modeling in certain multi-agent settings would require passing policies into the belief model---at the time of writing, there have been no successful demonstrations of this. Toward addressing these shortcomings, we propose an inference-time improvement framework for parametric sequential generative modeling methods called belief fine-tuning (BFT). BFT leverages approximate dynamic programming in the form of fine-tuning to determine the model parameters at each time step. It can improve the accuracy of the belief model at test time because it specializes the model to the space of local observations. Furthermore, because this specialization occurs after the action or policy has already been decided, BFT does not require the belief model to process it as input. As a result of the latter point, BFT enables, for the first time, approximate public belief state search in imperfect-information games where the number of possible information states is too large to track tabularly. We exhibit these findings on large-scale variants of the benchmark game Hanabi.

Curriculum learning as a tool to uncover learning principles in the brain

Daniel R Kepple · Rainer Engelken · Kanaka Rajan

We present a novel approach to use curricula to identify principles by which a system learns. Previous work in curriculum learning has focused on how curricula can be designed to improve learning of a model on particular tasks. We consider the inverse problem: what can a curriculum tell us about how a learning system acquired a task? Using recurrent neural networks (RNNs) and models of common experimental neuroscience tasks, we demonstrate that curricula can be used to differentiate learning principles using target-based and a representation-based loss functions as use cases. In particular, we compare the performance of RNNs using target-based learning rules versus those using representational learning rules on three different curricula in the context of two tasks. We show that the learned state-space trajectories of RNNs trained by these two learning rules under all curricula tested are indistinguishable. However, by comparing learning times during different curricula, we can disambiguate the learning rules and challenge traditional approaches of interrogating learning systems. Although all animals in neuroscience lab settings are trained by curriculum-based procedures called shaping, almost no behavioral or neural data are collected or published on the relative successes or training times under different curricula. Our results motivate the systematic collection and curation of data during shaping by demonstrating curriculum learning in RNNs as a tool to probe and differentiate learning principles used by biological systems, over conventional statistical analyses of learned state spaces.

Scaling Laws for Neural Machine Translation

Behrooz Ghorbani · Orhan Firat · Markus Freitag · Ankur Bapna · Maxim Krikun · Xavier Garcia · Ciprian Chelba · Colin Cherry

We present an empirical study of scaling properties of encoder-decoder Transformer models used in neural machine translation (NMT). We show that cross-entropy loss as a function of model size follows a certain scaling law. Specifically (i) We propose a formula which describes the scaling behavior of cross-entropy loss as a bivariate function of encoder and decoder size, and show that it gives accurate predictions under a variety of scaling approaches and languages; we show that the total number of parameters alone is not sufficient for such purposes. (ii) We observe different power law exponents when scaling the decoder vs scaling the encoder, and provide recommendations for optimal allocation of encoder/decoder capacity based on this observation. (iii) We also report that the scaling behavior of the model is acutely influenced by composition bias of the train/test sets, which we define as any deviation from naturally generated text (either via machine generated or human translated text). We observe that natural text on the target side enjoys scaling, which manifests as successful reduction of the cross-entropy loss. (iv) Finally, we investigate the relationship between the cross-entropy loss and the quality of the generated translations. We find two different behaviors, depending on the nature of the test data. For test sets which were originally translated from target language to source language, both loss and BLEU score improve as model size increases. In contrast, for test sets originally translated from source language to target language, the loss improves, but the BLEU score stops improving after a certain threshold. We release generated text from all models used in this study.

Is Importance Weighting Incompatible with Interpolating Classifiers?

Ke Wang · Niladri Chatterji · Saminul Haque · Tatsunori Hashimoto

Importance weighting is a classic technique to handle distribution shifts. However, prior work has presented strong empirical and theoretical evidence demonstrating that importance weights can have little to no effect on overparameterized neural networks. \emph{Is importance weighting truly incompatible with the training of overparameterized neural networks?} Our paper answers this in the negative. We show that importance weighting fails not because of the overparameterization, but instead, as a result of using exponentially-tailed losses like the logistic or cross-entropy loss. As a remedy, we show that polynomially-tailed losses restore the effects of importance reweighting in correcting distribution shift in overparameterized models. We characterize the behavior of gradient descent on importance weighted polynomially-tailed losses with overparameterized linear models, and theoretically demonstrate the advantage of using polynomially-tailed losses in a label shift setting. Surprisingly, our theory shows that using weights that are obtained by exponentiating the classical unbiased importance weights can improve performance. Finally, we demonstrate the practical value of our analysis with neural network experiments on a subpopulation shift and a label shift dataset. When reweighted, our loss function can outperform reweighted cross-entropy by as much as 9\% in test accuracy. Our loss function also gives test accuracies comparable to, or even exceeding, well-tuned state-of-the-art methods for correcting distribution shifts.

Prototype memory and attention mechanisms for few shot image generation

Tianqin Li · Zijie Li · Andrew Luo · Harold Rockwell · Amir Barati Farimani · Tai Lee

Recent discoveries indicate that the neural codes in the primary visual cortex (V1) of macaque monkeys are complex, diverse and sparse. This leads us to ponder the computational advantages and functional role of these “grandmother cells." Here, we propose that such cells can serve as prototype memory priors that bias and shape the distributed feature processing within the image generation process in the brain. These memory prototypes are learned by momentum online clustering and are utilized via a memory-based attention operation, which we define as Memory Concept Attention (MoCA). To test our proposal, we show in a few-shot image generation task, that having a prototype memory during attention can improve image synthesis quality, learn interpretable visual concept clusters, as well as improve the robustness of the model. Interestingly, we also find that our attentional memory mechanism can implicitly modify the horizontal connections by updating the transformation into the prototype embedding space for self-attention. Insofar as GANs can be seen as plausible models for reasoning about the top-down synthesis in the analysis-by-synthesis loop of the hierarchical visual cortex, our findings demonstrate a plausible computational role for these “prototype concept" neurons in visual processing in the brain.

What Happens after SGD Reaches Zero Loss? --A Mathematical Framework

Zhiyuan Li · Tianhao Wang · Sanjeev Arora

Understanding the implicit bias of Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) is one of the key challenges in deep learning, especially for overparametrized models, where the local minimizers of the loss function $L$ can form a manifold. Intuitively, with a sufficiently small learning rate $\eta$, SGD tracks Gradient Descent (GD) until it gets close to such manifold, where the gradient noise prevents further convergence. In such regime, Blanc et al. (2020) proved that SGD with label noise locally decreases a regularizer-like term, the sharpness of loss, $\text{tr}[\nabla^2 L]$. The current paper gives a general framework for such analysis by adapting ideas from Katzenberger (1991). It allows in principle a complete characterization for the regularization effect of SGD around such manifold---i.e., the "implicit bias"---using a stochastic differential equation (SDE) describing the limiting dynamics of the parameters, which is determined jointly by the loss function and the noise covariance. This yields some new results: (1) a *global* analysis of the implicit bias valid for $\eta^{-2}$ steps, in contrast to the local analysis of Blanc et al. (2020) that is only valid for $\eta^{-1.6}$ steps and (2) allowing *arbitrary* noise covariance. As an application, we show with arbitrary large initialization, label noise SGD can always escape the kernel regime and only requires $O(\kappa\ln d)$ samples for learning an $\kappa$-sparse overparametrized linear model in $\mathbb{R}^d$ (Woodworth et al., 2020), while GD initialized in the kernel regime requires $\Omega(d)$ samples. This upper bound is minimax optimal and improves the previous $\widetilde{O}(\kappa^2)$ upper bound (HaoChen et al., 2020).

The Uncanny Similarity of Recurrence and Depth

Avi Schwarzschild · Arjun Gupta · Amin Ghiasi · Micah Goldblum · Tom Goldstein

It is widely believed that deep neural networks contain layer specialization, wherein networks extract hierarchical features representing edges and patterns in shallow layers and complete objects in deeper layers. Unlike common feed-forward models that have distinct filters at each layer, recurrent networks reuse the same parameters at various depths. In this work, we observe that recurrent models exhibit the same hierarchical behaviors and the same performance benefits as depth despite reusing the same filters at every recurrence. By training models of various feed-forward and recurrent architectures on several datasets for image classification as well as maze solving, we show that recurrent networks have the ability to closely emulate the behavior of non-recurrent deep models, often doing so with far fewer parameters.

Learning 3D Representations of Molecular Chirality with Invariance to Bond Rotations

Keir Adams · Lagnajit Pattanaik · Connor Coley

Molecular chirality, a form of stereochemistry most often describing relative spatial arrangements of bonded neighbors around tetrahedral carbon centers, influences the set of 3D conformers accessible to the molecule without changing its 2D graph connectivity. Chirality can strongly alter (bio)chemical interactions, particularly protein-drug binding. Most 2D graph neural networks (GNNs) designed for molecular property prediction at best use atomic labels to naïvely treat chirality, while E(3)-invariant 3D GNNs are invariant to chirality altogether. To enable representation learning on molecules with defined stereochemistry, we design an SE(3)-invariant model that processes torsion angles of a 3D molecular conformer. We explicitly model conformational flexibility by integrating a novel type of invariance to rotations about internal molecular bonds into the architecture, mitigating the need for multi-conformer data augmentation. We test our model on four benchmarks: contrastive learning to distinguish conformers of different stereoisomers in a learned latent space, classification of chiral centers as R/S, prediction of how enantiomers rotate circularly polarized light, and ranking enantiomers by their docking scores in an enantiosensitive protein pocket. We compare our model, Chiral InterRoto-Invariant Neural Network (ChIRo), with 2D and 3D GNNs to demonstrate that our model achieves state of the art performance when learning chiral-sensitive functions from molecular structures.

ComPhy: Compositional Physical Reasoning of Objects and Events from Videos

Zhenfang Chen · Kexin Yi · Yunzhu Li · Mingyu Ding · Antonio Torralba · Joshua B Tenenbaum · Chuang Gan

Objects' motions in nature are governed by complex interactions and their properties. While some properties, such as shape and material, can be identified via the object's visual appearances, others like mass and electric charge are not directly visible. The compositionality between the visible and hidden properties poses unique challenges for AI models to reason from the physical world, whereas humans can effortlessly infer them with limited observations. Existing studies on video reasoning mainly focus on visually observable elements such as object appearance, movement, and contact interaction. In this paper, we take an initial step to highlight the importance of inferring the hidden physical properties not directly observable from visual appearances, by introducing the Compositional Physical Reasoning (ComPhy) dataset. For a given set of objects, ComPhy includes few videos of them moving and interacting under different initial conditions. The model is evaluated based on its capability to unravel the compositional hidden properties, such as mass and charge, and use this knowledge to answer a set of questions posted on one of the videos. Evaluation results of several state-of-the-art video reasoning models on ComPhy show unsatisfactory performance as they fail to capture these hidden properties. We further propose an oracle neural-symbolic framework named Compositional Physics Learner (CPL), combining visual perception, physical property learning, dynamic prediction, and symbolic execution into a unified framework. CPL can effectively identify objects' physical properties from their interactions and predict their dynamics to answer questions.


Namjoon Suh · Hyunouk Ko · Xiaoming Huo

We study the generalization properties of the overparameterized deep neural network (DNN) with Rectified Linear Unit (ReLU) activations.Under the non-parametric regression framework, it is assumed that the ground-truth function is from a reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS) induced by a neural tangent kernel (NTK) of ReLU DNN, and a dataset is given with the noises. Without a delicate adoption of early stopping, we prove that the overparametrized DNN trained by vanilla gradient descent does not recover the ground-truth function. It turns out that the estimated DNN's $L_{2}$ prediction error is bounded away from $0$. As a complement of the above result, we show that the $\ell_{2}$-regularized gradient descent enables the overparametrized DNN achieve the minimax optimal convergence rate of the $L_{2}$ prediction error, without early stopping. Notably, the rate we obtained is faster than $\mathcal{O}(n^{-1/2})$ known in the literature.

Independent SE(3)-Equivariant Models for End-to-End Rigid Protein Docking

Octavian Ganea · xinyuan huang · Charlotte Bunne · Yatao Bian · Regina Barzilay · Tommi Jaakkola · Andreas Krause

Protein complex formation is a central problem in biology, being involved in most of the cell's processes, and essential for applications, e.g. drug design or protein engineering. We tackle rigid body protein-protein docking, i.e., computationally predicting the 3D structure of a protein-protein complex from the individual unbound structures, assuming no conformational change within the proteins happens during binding. We design a novel pairwise-independent SE(3)-equivariant graph matching network to predict the rotation and translation to place one of the proteins at the right docked position relative to the second protein. We mathematically guarantee a basic principle: the predicted complex is always identical regardless of the initial locations and orientations of the two structures. Our model, named EquiDock, approximates the binding pockets and predicts the docking poses using keypoint matching and alignment, achieved through optimal transport and a differentiable Kabsch algorithm. Empirically, we achieve significant running time improvements and often outperform existing docking software despite not relying on heavy candidate sampling, structure refinement, or templates.

An Explanation of In-context Learning as Implicit Bayesian Inference

Sang Michael Xie · Aditi Raghunathan · Percy Liang · Tengyu Ma

Large language models (LMs) such as GPT-3 have the surprising ability to do in-context learning, where the model learns to do a downstream task simply by conditioning on a prompt consisting of input-output examples. The LM learns from these examples without being explicitly pretrained to learn. Thus, it is unclear what enables in-context learning. In this paper, we study how in-context learning can emerge when pretraining documents have long-range coherence. Here, the LM must infer a latent document-level concept to generate coherent next tokens during pretraining. At test time, in-context learning occurs when the LM also infers a shared latent concept between examples in a prompt. We prove when this occurs despite a distribution mismatch between prompts and pretraining data in a setting where the pretraining distribution is a mixture of HMMs. In contrast to messy large-scale datasets used to train LMs capable of in-context learning, we generate a small-scale synthetic dataset (GINC) where Transformers and LSTMs both exhibit in-context learning. Beyond the theory, experiments on GINC mirror real-world phenomena including improved in-context performance with model scaling, sensitivity to example order, and instances where zero-shot is better than few-shot in-context learning.

Synchromesh: Reliable Code Generation from Pre-trained Language Models

Gabriel Poesia · Alex Polozov · Vu Le · Ashish Tiwari · Gustavo Soares · Christopher Meek · Sumit Gulwani

Large pre-trained language models have been used to generate code, providing a flexible interface for synthesizing programs from natural language specifications. However, they often violate syntactic and semantic rules of their output language, limiting their practical usability. In this paper, we propose Synchromesh: a framework for substantially improving the reliability of pre-trained models for code generation. Synchromesh comprises two components. First, it retrieves few-shot examples from a training bank using Target Similarity Tuning (TST), a novel method for semantic example selection. TST learns to recognize utterances that describe similar target programs despite of differences in surface natural language features. Then, Synchromesh feeds the examples to a pre-trained language model and samples programs using Constrained Semantic Decoding (CSD): a general framework for constraining the output to a set of valid programs in the target language. CSD leverages constraints on partial outputs to sample complete correct programs, and needs neither re-training nor fine-tuning of the language model. We evaluate our methods by synthesizing code from natural language descriptions using GPT-3 and Codex in three real-world languages: SQL queries, Vega-Lite visualizations and SMCalFlow programs. These domains showcase rich constraints that CSD is able to enforce, including syntax, scoping and typing rules. Across all languages, we observe complementary gains from CSD and TST in prediction accuracy and in effectively preventing parsing, type and run-time errors.

Online Adversarial Attacks

Andjela Mladenovic · Joey Bose · Hugo Berard · William Hamilton · Simon Lacoste-Julien · Pascal Vincent · Gauthier Gidel

Adversarial attacks expose important vulnerabilities of deep learning models, yet little attention has been paid to settings where data arrives as a stream. In this paper, we formalize the online adversarial attack problem, emphasizing two key elements found in real-world use-cases: attackers must operate under partial knowledge of the target model, and the decisions made by the attacker are irrevocable since they operate on a transient data stream. We first rigorously analyze a deterministic variant of the online threat model by drawing parallels to the well-studied $k$-secretary problem in theoretical computer science and propose Virtual+, a simple yet practical online algorithm. Our main theoretical result shows Virtual+ yields provably the best competitive ratio over all single-threshold algorithms for $k<5$---extending the previous analysis of the $k$-secretary problem. We also introduce the \textit{stochastic $k$-secretary}---effectively reducing online blackbox transfer attacks to a $k$-secretary problem under noise---and prove theoretical bounds on the performance of Virtual+ adapted to this setting. Finally, we complement our theoretical results by conducting experiments on MNIST, CIFAR-10, and Imagenet classifiers, revealing the necessity of online algorithms in achieving near-optimal performance and also the rich interplay between attack strategies and online attack selection, enabling simple strategies like FGSM to outperform stronger adversaries.

On the Uncomputability of Partition Functions in Energy-Based Sequence Models

Chu-Cheng Lin · Arya McCarthy

In this paper, we argue that energy-based sequence models backed by expressive parametric families can result in uncomputable and inapproximable partition functions. Among other things, this makes model selection--and therefore learning model parameters--not only difficult, but generally undecidable. The reason is that there are no good deterministic or randomized estimates of partition functions. Specifically, we exhibit a pathological example where under common assumptions, no useful importance sampling estimates of the partition function can guarantee to have variance bounded below a rational number. As alternatives, we consider sequence model families whose partition functions are computable (if they exist), but at the cost of reduced expressiveness. Our theoretical results suggest that statistical procedures with asymptotic guarantees and sheer (but finite) amounts of compute are not the only things that make sequence modeling work; computability concerns must not be neglected as we consider more expressive model parametrizations.

Improved deterministic l2 robustness on CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100

Sahil Singla · Surbhi Singla · Soheil Feizi

Training convolutional neural networks (CNNs) with a strict Lipschitz constraint under the $l_{2}$ norm is useful for provable adversarial robustness, interpretable gradients and stable training. While $1$-Lipschitz CNNs can be designed by enforcing a $1$-Lipschitz constraint on each layer, training such networks requires each layer to have an orthogonal Jacobian matrix (for all inputs) to prevent the gradients from vanishing during backpropagation. A layer with this property is said to be Gradient Norm Preserving (GNP). In this work, we introduce a procedure to certify the robustness of $1$-Lipschitz CNNs by relaxing the orthogonalization of the last linear layer of the network that significantly advances the state of the art for both standard and provable robust accuracies on CIFAR-100 (gains of $4.80\%$ and $4.71\%$, respectively). We further boost their robustness by introducing (i) a novel Gradient Norm preserving activation function called the Householder activation function (that includes every $\mathrm{GroupSort}$ activation) and (ii) a certificate regularization. On CIFAR-10, we achieve significant improvements over prior works in provable robust accuracy ($5.81\%$) with only a minor drop in standard accuracy ($-0.29\%$). Code for reproducing all experiments in the paper is available at \url{}.

On the Role of Neural Collapse in Transfer Learning

Tomer Galanti · Andras Gyorgy · Marcus Hutter

We study the ability of foundation models to learn representations for classification that are transferable to new, unseen classes. Recent results in the literature show that representations learned by a single classifier over many classes are competitive on few-shot learning problems with representations learned by special-purpose algorithms designed for such problems. In this paper, we provide an explanation for this behavior based on the recently observed phenomenon that the features learned by overparameterized classification networks show an interesting clustering property, called neural collapse. We demonstrate both theoretically and empirically that neural collapse generalizes to new samples from the training classes, and -- more importantly -- to new classes as well, allowing foundation models to provide feature maps that work well in transfer learning and, specifically, in the few-shot setting.

Blaschke Product Neural Networks (BPNN): A Physics-Infused Neural Network for Phase Retrieval of Meromorphic Functions

Juncheng Dong · Simiao Ren · Yang Deng · Omar Khatib · Jordan Malof · Mohammadreza Soltani · Willie Padilla · VAHID TAROKH

Numerous physical systems are described by ordinary or partial differential equations whose solutions are given by holomorphic or meromorphic functions in the complex domain. In many cases, only the magnitude of these functions are observed on various points on the purely imaginary $j\omega$-axis since coherent measurement of their phases is often expensive. However, it is desirable to retrieve the lost phases from the magnitudes when possible. To this end, we propose a physics-infused deep neural network based on the Blaschke products for phase retrieval. Inspired by the Helson and Sarason Theorem, we recover coefficients of a rational function of Blaschke products using a Blaschke Product Neural Network (BPNN), based upon the magnitude observations as input. The resulting rational function is then used for phase retrieval. We compare the BPNN to conventional deep neural networks (NNs) on several phase retrieval problems, comprising both synthetic and contemporary real-world problems (e.g., metamaterials for which data collection requires substantial expertise and is time consuming). On each phase retrieval problem, we compare against a population of conventional NNs of varying size and hyperparameter settings. Even without any hyper-parameter search, we find that BPNNs consistently outperform the population of optimized NNs in scarce data scenarios, and do so despite being much smaller models. The results can in turn be applied to calculate the refractive index of metamaterials, which is an important problem in emerging areas of material science.

Diurnal or Nocturnal? Federated Learning of Multi-branch Networks from Periodically Shifting Distributions

Chen Zhu · Zheng Xu · Mingqing Chen · Jakub Konečný · Andrew Hard · Tom Goldstein

Federated learning has been deployed to train machine learning models from decentralized client data on mobile devices in practice. The clients available for training are observed to have periodically shifting distributions changing with the time of day, which can cause instability in training and degrade the model performance. In this paper, instead of modeling the distribution shift with a block-cyclic pattern as previous works, we model it with a mixture of distributions that gradually shifts between daytime and nighttime modes, and find this intuitive model to better match the observations in practical federated learning systems. Furthermore, we propose to jointly train a clustering model and a multi-branch network to allocate lightweight specialized branches to clients from different modes. A temporal prior is used to significantly boost the training performance.Experiments for image classification on EMNIST and CIFAR datasets, and next word prediction on the Stack Overflow dataset show that the proposed algorithm can counter the effects of the distribution shift and significantly improve the final model performance.

Superclass-Conditional Gaussian Mixture Model For Learning Fine-Grained Embeddings

Jingchao Ni · Wei Cheng · Zhengzhang Chen · Takayoshi Asakura · Tomoya Soma · Sho Kato · Haifeng Chen

Learning fine-grained embeddings is essential for extending the generalizability of models pre-trained on "coarse" labels (e.g., animals). It is crucial to fields for which fine-grained labeling (e.g., breeds of animals) is expensive, but fine-grained prediction is desirable, such as medicine. The dilemma necessitates adaptation of a "coarsely" pre-trained model to new tasks with a few "finer-grained" training labels. However, coarsely supervised pre-training tends to suppress intra-class variation, which is vital for cross-granularity adaptation. In this paper, we develop a training framework underlain by a novel superclass-conditional Gaussian mixture model (SCGM). SCGM imitates the generative process of samples from hierarchies of classes through latent variable modeling of the fine-grained subclasses. The framework is agnostic to the encoders and only adds a few distribution related parameters, thus is efficient, and flexible to different domains. The model parameters are learned end-to-end by maximum-likelihood estimation via a principled Expectation-Maximization algorithm. Extensive experiments on benchmark datasets and a real-life medical dataset indicate the effectiveness of our method.

MetaMorph: Learning Universal Controllers with Transformers

Agrim Gupta · Jim Fan · Surya Ganguli · Li Fei-Fei

Multiple domains like vision, natural language, and audio are witnessing tremendous progress by leveraging Transformers for large scale pre-training followed by task specific fine tuning. In contrast, in robotics we primarily train a single robot for a single task. However, modular robot systems now allow for the flexible combination of general-purpose building blocks into task optimized morphologies. However, given the exponentially large number of possible robot morphologies, training a controller for each new design is impractical. In this work, we propose MetaMorph, a Transformer based approach to learn a universal controller over a modular robot design space. MetaMorph is based on the insight that robot morphology is just another modality on which we can condition the output of a Transformer. Through extensive experiments we demonstrate that large scale pre-training on a variety of robot morphologies results in policies with combinatorial generalization capabilities, including zero shot generalization to unseen robot morphologies. We further demonstrate that our pre-trained policy can be used for sample-efficient transfer to completely new robot morphologies and tasks.

Stiffness-aware neural network for learning Hamiltonian systems

SENWEI Liang · Zhongzhan Huang · Hong Zhang

We propose stiffness-aware neural network (SANN), a new method for learning Hamiltonian dynamical systems from data. SANN identifies and splits the training data into stiff and nonstiff portions based on a stiffness-aware index, a simple, yet effective metric we introduce to quantify the stiffness of the dynamical system. This classification along with a resampling technique allows us to apply different time integration strategies such as step size adaptation to better capture the dynamical characteristics of the Hamiltonian vector fields. We evaluate SANN on complex physical systems including a three-body problem and billiard model. We show that SANN is more stable and can better preserve energy when compared with the state-of-the-art methods, leading to significant improvement in accuracy.

Surrogate NAS Benchmarks: Going Beyond the Limited Search Spaces of Tabular NAS Benchmarks

Arber Zela · Julien Niklas Siems · Lucas Zimmer · Jovita Lukasik · Margret Keuper · Frank Hutter

The most significant barrier to the advancement of Neural Architecture Search (NAS) is its demand for large computational resources, which hinders scientifically sound empirical evaluations of NAS methods. Tabular NAS benchmarks have alleviated this problem substantially, making it possible to properly evaluate NAS methods in seconds on commodity machines. However, an unintended consequence of tabular NAS benchmarks has been a focus on extremely small architectural search spaces since their construction relies on exhaustive evaluations of the space. This leads to unrealistic results that do not transfer to larger spaces. To overcome this fundamental limitation, we propose a methodology to create cheap NAS surrogate benchmarks for arbitrary search spaces. We exemplify this approach by creating surrogate NAS benchmarks on the existing tabular NAS-Bench-101 and on two widely used NAS search spaces with up to $10^{21}$ architectures ($10^{13}$ times larger than any previous tabular NAS benchmark). We show that surrogate NAS benchmarks can model the true performance of architectures better than tabular benchmarks (at a small fraction of the cost), that they lead to faithful estimates of how well different NAS methods work on the original non-surrogate benchmark, and that they can generate new scientific insight. We open-source all our code and believe that surrogate NAS benchmarks are an indispensable tool to extend scientifically sound work on NAS to large and exciting search spaces.

Towards Training Billion Parameter Graph Neural Networks for Atomic Simulations

Anuroop Sriram · Abhishek Das · Brandon Wood · Siddharth Goyal · Larry Zitnick

Recent progress in Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) for modeling atomic simulations has the potential to revolutionize catalyst discovery, which is a key step in making progress towards the energy breakthroughs needed to combat climate change. However, the GNNs that have proven most effective for this task are memory intensive as they model higher-order interactions in the graphs such as those between triplets or quadruplets of atoms, making it challenging to scale these models. In this paper, we introduce Graph Parallelism, a method to distribute input graphs across multiple GPUs, enabling us to train very large GNNs with hundreds of millions or billions of parameters. We empirically evaluate our method by scaling up the recently proposed DimeNet++ and GemNet models by over an order of magnitude in the number of parameters. On the large-scale Open Catalyst 2020 (OC20) dataset, these graph-parallelized models lead to relative improvements of 1) 15% on the force MAE metric on the S2EF task and 2) 21% on the AFbT metric on the IS2RS task, establishing new state-of-the-art results.

Outstanding Paper
Bootstrapped Meta-Learning

Sebastian Flennerhag · Yannick Schroecker · Tom Zahavy · Hado van Hasselt · David Silver · Satinder Singh

Meta-learning empowers artificial intelligence to increase its efficiency by learning how to learn. Unlocking this potential involves overcoming a challenging meta-optimisation problem. We propose an algorithm that tackles this problem by letting the meta-learner teach itself. The algorithm first bootstraps a target from the meta-learner, then optimises the meta-learner by minimising the distance to that target under a chosen (pseudo-)metric. Focusing on meta-learning with gradients, we establish conditions that guarantee performance improvements and show that metric can be used to control meta-optimisation. Meanwhile, the bootstrapping mechanism can extend the effective meta-learning horizon without requiring backpropagation through all updates. We achieve a new state-of-the art for model-free agents on the Atari ALE benchmark and demonstrate that it yields both performance and efficiency gains in multi-task meta-learning. Finally, we explore how bootstrapping opens up new possibilities and find that it can meta-learn efficient exploration in an epsilon-greedy Q-learning agent - without backpropagating through the update rule.

ProtoRes: Proto-Residual Network for Pose Authoring via Learned Inverse Kinematics

Boris Oreshkin · Florent Bocquelet · Felix G. Harvey · Bay Raitt · Dominic Laflamme

Our work focuses on the development of a learnable neural representation of human pose for advanced AI assisted animation tooling. Specifically, we tackle the problem of constructing a full static human pose based on sparse and variable user inputs (e.g. locations and/or orientations of a subset of body joints). To solve this problem, we propose a novel neural architecture that combines residual connections with prototype encoding of a partially specified pose to create a new complete pose from the learned latent space. We show that our architecture outperforms a baseline based on Transformer, both in terms of accuracy and computational efficiency. Additionally, we develop a user interface to integrate our neural model in Unity, a real-time 3D development platform. Furthermore, we introduce two new datasets representing the static human pose modeling problem, based on high-quality human motion capture data, which will be released publicly along with model code.

BAM: Bayes with Adaptive Memory

Josue Nassar · Jennifer Brennan · Ben Evans · Kendall Lowrey

Online learning via Bayes' theorem allows new data to be continuously integrated into an agent's current beliefs. However, a naive application of Bayesian methods in non-stationary environments leads to slow adaptation and results in state estimates that may converge confidently to the wrong parameter value. A common solution when learning in changing environments is to discard/downweight past data; however, this simple mechanism of "forgetting" fails to account for the fact that many real-world environments involve revisiting similar states. We propose a new framework, Bayes with Adaptive Memory (BAM), that takes advantage of past experience by allowing the agent to choose which past observations to remember and which to forget. We demonstrate that BAM generalizes many popular Bayesian update rules for non-stationary environments. Through a variety of experiments, we demonstrate the ability of BAM to continuously adapt in an ever-changing world.

Bundle Networks: Fiber Bundles, Local Trivializations, and a Generative Approach to Exploring Many-to-one Maps

Nico Courts · Henry Kvinge

Many-to-one maps are ubiquitous in machine learning, from the image recognition model that assigns a multitude of distinct images to the concept of “cat” to the time series forecasting model which assigns a range of distinct time-series to a single scalar regression value. While the primary use of such models is naturally to associate correct output to each input, in many problems it is also useful to be able to explore, understand, and sample from a model's fibers, which are the set of input values $x$ such that $f(x) = y,$ for fixed $y$ in the output space. In this paper we show that popular generative architectures are ill-suited to such tasks. Motivated by this, we introduce a novel generative architecture, Bundle Networks, based on the concept of a fiber bundle from (differential) topology. BundleNets exploit the idea of a local trivialization wherein a space can be locally decomposed into a product space that cleanly encodes the many-to-one nature of the map. By enforcing this decomposition in BundleNets and by utilizing state-of-the-art invertible components, investigating a network's fibers becomes natural.

Feature Kernel Distillation

Bobby He · Mete Ozay

Trained Neural Networks (NNs) can be viewed as data-dependent kernel machines, with predictions determined by the inner product of last-layer representations across inputs, referred to as the feature kernel. We explore the relevance of the feature kernel for Knowledge Distillation (KD), using a mechanistic understanding of an NN’s optimisation process. We extend the theoretical analysis of Allen-Zhu & Li (2020) to show that a trained NN’s feature kernel is highly dependent on its parameter initialisation, which biases different initialisations of the same architecture to learn different data attributes in a multi-view data setting. This enables us to prove that KD using only pairwise feature kernel comparisons can improve NN test accuracy in such settings, with both single & ensemble teacher models, whereas standard training without KD fails to generalise. We further use our theory to motivate practical considerations for improving student generalisation when using distillation with feature kernels, which allows us to propose a novel approach: Feature Kernel Distillation (FKD). Finally, we experimentally corroborate our theory in the image classification setting, showing that FKD is amenable to ensemble distillation, can transfer knowledge across datasets, and outperforms both vanilla KD & other feature kernel based KD baselines across a range of standard architectures & datasets.

A Biologically Interpretable Graph Convolutional Network to Link Genetic Risk Pathways and Imaging Phenotypes of Disease

Sayan Ghosal · Qiang Chen · Giulio Pergola · Aaron Goldman · William Ulrich · Daniel Weinberger · Archana Venkataraman

We propose a novel end-to-end framework for whole-brain and whole-genome imaging-genetics. Our genetics network uses hierarchical graph convolution and pooling operations to embed subject-level data onto a low-dimensional latent space. The hierarchical network implicitly tracks the convergence of genetic risk across well-established biological pathways, while an attention mechanism automatically identifies the salient edges of this network at the subject level. In parallel, our imaging network projects multimodal data onto a set of latent embeddings. For interpretability, we implement a Bayesian feature selection strategy to extract the discriminative imaging biomarkers; these feature weights are optimized alongside the other model parameters. We couple the imaging and genetic embeddings with a predictor network, to ensure that the learned representations are linked to phenotype. We evaluate our framework on a schizophrenia dataset that includes two functional MRI paradigms and gene scores derived from Single Nucleotide Polymorphism data. Using repeated 10-fold cross-validation, we show that our imaging-genetics fusion achieves the better classification performance than state-of-the-art baselines. In an exploratory analysis, we further show that the biomarkers identified by our model are reproducible and closely associated with deficits in schizophrenia.

Meta-Learning with Fewer Tasks through Task Interpolation

Huaxiu Yao · Linjun Zhang · Chelsea Finn

Meta-learning enables algorithms to quickly learn a newly encountered task with just a few labeled examples by transferring previously learned knowledge. However, the bottleneck of current meta-learning algorithms is the requirement of a large number of meta-training tasks, which may not be accessible in real-world scenarios. To address the challenge that available tasks may not densely sample the space of tasks, we propose to augment the task set through interpolation. By meta-learning with task interpolation (MLTI), our approach effectively generates additional tasks by randomly sampling a pair of tasks and interpolating the corresponding features and labels. Under both gradient-based and metric-based meta-learning settings, our theoretical analysis shows MLTI corresponds to a data-adaptive meta-regularization and further improves the generalization. Empirically, in our experiments on eight datasets from diverse domains including image recognition, pose prediction, molecule property prediction, and medical image classification, we find that the proposed general MLTI framework is compatible with representative meta-learning algorithms and consistently outperforms other state-of-the-art strategies.

Predicting Physics in Mesh-reduced Space with Temporal Attention

XU HAN · Han Gao · Tobias Pfaff · Jian-Xun Wang · Liping Liu

Auto-regressive sequence models for physics prediction are often restricted to low-dimensional systems, as memory cost increases with both spatial extents and sequence length. On the other hand, graph-based next-step prediction models have recently been very successful in modeling complex high-dimensional physical systems on irregular meshes, but suffer from error accumulation and drift, due to their short temporal attention span. In this paper, we present a method that marries the strengths of both approaches. We use a GNN to locally summarize features and create coarsened, compact mesh representation of the system state, onto which we apply a transformer-style temporal attention module. We use a second GNN to decode these predictions back to a full-sized graph and perform fine-scale updates. Our method outperforms a competitive GNN baseline on three complex fluid dynamics prediction tasks, from sonic shocks to vascular flow. We demonstrate stable rollouts without the need for training noise and show perfectly phase-stable predictions even for very long sequences. More broadly, we believe our approach paves the way to bringing the benefits of attention-based sequence models to solving high-dimensional complex physics tasks.

Provably Robust Adversarial Examples

Dimitar I. Dimitrov · Gagandeep Singh · Timon Gehr · Martin Vechev

We introduce the concept of provably robust adversarial examples for deep neural networks – connected input regions constructed from standard adversarial examples which are guaranteed to be robust to a set of real-world perturbations (such as changes in pixel intensity and geometric transformations). We present a novel method called PARADE for generating these regions in a scalable manner which works by iteratively refining the region initially obtained via sampling until a refined region is certified to be adversarial with existing state-of-the-art verifiers. At each step, a novel optimization procedure is applied to maximize the region's volume under the constraint that the convex relaxation of the network behavior with respect to the region implies a chosen bound on the certification objective. Our experimental evaluation shows the effectiveness of PARADE: it successfully finds large provably robust regions including ones containing $\approx 10^{573}$ adversarial examples for pixel intensity and $\approx 10^{599}$ for geometric perturbations. The provability enables our robust examples to be significantly more effective against state-of-the-art defenses based on randomized smoothing than the individual attacks used to construct the regions.

PER-ETD: A Polynomially Efficient Emphatic Temporal Difference Learning Method

Ziwei Guan · Tengyu Xu · Yingbin Liang

Emphatic temporal difference (ETD) learning (Sutton et al., 2016) is a successful method to conduct the off-policy value function evaluation with function approximation. Although ETD has been shown to converge asymptotically to a desirable value function, it is well-known that ETD often encounters a large variance so that its sample complexity can increase exponentially fast with the number of iterations. In this work, we propose a new ETD method, called PER-ETD (i.e., PEriodically Restarted-ETD), which restarts and updates the follow-on trace only for a finite period for each iteration of the evaluation parameter. Further, PER-ETD features a design of the logarithmical increase of the restart period with the number of iterations, which guarantees the best trade-off between the variance and bias and keeps both vanishing sublinearly. We show that PER-ETD converges to the same desirable fixed point as ETD, but improves the exponential sample complexity of ETD to be polynomials. Our experiments validate the superior performance of PER-ETD and its advantage over ETD.

Granger causal inference on DAGs identifies genomic loci regulating transcription

Alexander Wu · Rohit Singh · Bonnie Berger

When a dynamical system can be modeled as a sequence of observations, Granger causality is a powerful approach for detecting predictive interactions between its variables. However, traditional Granger causal inference has limited utility in domains where the dynamics need to be represented as directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) rather than as a linear sequence, such as with cell differentiation trajectories. Here, we present GrID-Net, a framework based on graph neural networks with lagged message passing for Granger causal inference on DAG-structured systems. Our motivating application is the analysis of single-cell multimodal data to identify genomic loci that mediate the regulation of specific genes. To our knowledge, GrID-Net is the first single-cell analysis tool that accounts for the temporal lag between a genomic locus becoming accessible and its downstream effect on a target gene's expression. We applied GrID-Net on multimodal single-cell assays that profile chromatin accessibility (ATAC-seq) and gene expression (RNA-seq) in the same cell and show that it dramatically outperforms existing methods for inferring regulatory locus-gene links, achieving up to 71% greater agreement with independent population genetics-based estimates. By extending Granger causality to DAG-structured dynamical systems, our work unlocks new domains for causal analyses and, more specifically, opens a path towards elucidating gene regulatory interactions relevant to cellular differentiation and complex human diseases at unprecedented scale and resolution.

Object Pursuit: Building a Space of Objects via Discriminative Weight Generation

Chuanyu Pan · Yanchao Yang · Kaichun Mo · Yueqi Duan · Leonidas Guibas

We propose a framework to continuously learn object-centric representations for visual learning and understanding. Existing object-centric representations either rely on supervisions that individualize objects in the scene, or perform unsupervised disentanglement that can hardly deal with complex scenes in the real world. To mitigate the annotation burden and relax the constraints on the statistical complexity of the data, our method leverages interactions to effectively sample diverse variations of an object and the corresponding training signals while learning the object-centric representations. Throughout learning, objects are streamed one by one in random order with unknown identities, and are associated with latent codes that can synthesize discriminative weights for each object through a convolutional hypernetwork. Moreover, re-identification of learned objects and forgetting prevention are employed to make the learning process efficient and robust. We perform an extensive study of the key features of the proposed framework and analyze the characteristics of the learned representations. Furthermore, we demonstrate the capability of the proposed framework in learning representations that can improve label efficiency in downstream tasks. Our code and trained models are made publicly available at:

Shallow and Deep Networks are Near-Optimal Approximators of Korobov Functions

Moise Blanchard · Mohammed Amine Bennouna

In this paper, we analyze the number of neurons and training parameters that a neural network needs to approximate multivariate functions of bounded second mixed derivatives --- Korobov functions. We prove upper bounds on these quantities for shallow and deep neural networks, drastically lessening the curse of dimensionality. Our bounds hold for general activation functions, including ReLU. We further prove that these bounds nearly match the minimal number of parameters any continuous function approximator needs to approximate Korobov functions, showing that neural networks are near-optimal function approximators.

Cross-Lingual Transfer with Class-Weighted Language-Invariant Representations

Ruicheng Xian · Heng Ji · Han Zhao

Recent advances in neural modeling have produced deep multilingual language models capable of extracting cross-lingual knowledge from non-parallel texts and enabling zero-shot downstream transfer. While their success is often attributed to shared representations, quantitative analyses are limited. Towards a better understanding, through empirical analyses, we show that the invariance of feature representations across languages—an effect of shared representations—strongly correlates with transfer performance. We also observe that distributional shifts in class priors between source and target language task data negatively affect performance, a largely overlooked issue that could cause negative transfer with existing unsupervised approaches. Based on these findings, we propose and evaluate a method for unsupervised transfer, called importance-weighted domain alignment (IWDA), that performs representation alignment with prior shift estimation and correction using unlabeled target language task data. Experiments demonstrate its superiority under large prior shifts, and show further performance gains when combined with existing semi-supervised learning techniques.

Outstanding Paper
Expressiveness and Approximation Properties of Graph Neural Networks

Floris Geerts · Juan L. Reutter

Characterizing the separation power of graph neural networks (GNNs) provides an understanding of their limitations for graph learning tasks. Results regarding separation power are, however, usually geared at specific GNNs architectures, and tools for understanding arbitrary GNN architectures are generally lacking. We provide an elegant way to easily obtain bounds on the separation power of GNNs in terms of the Weisfeiler-Leman (WL) tests, which have become the yardstick to measure the separation power of GNNs. The crux is to view GNNs as expressions in a procedural tensor language describing the computations in the layers of the GNNs. Then, by a simple analysis of the obtained expressions, in terms of the number of indexes used and the nesting depth of summations, bounds on the separation power in terms of the WL-tests readily follow. We use tensor language to define Higher-Order Message-Passing Neural Networks (or k-MPNNs), a natural extension of MPNNs. Furthermore, the tensor language point of view allows for the derivation of universality results for classes of GNNs in a natural way. Our approach provides a toolbox with which GNN architecture designers can analyze the separation power of their GNNs, without needing to know the intricacies of the WL-tests. We also provide insights in what is needed to boost the separation power of GNNs.

Almost Tight L0-norm Certified Robustness of Top-k Predictions against Adversarial Perturbations

Jinyuan Jia · Binghui Wang · Xiaoyu Cao · Hongbin Liu · Neil Gong

Top-$k$ predictions are used in many real-world applications such as machine learning as a service, recommender systems, and web searches. $\ell_0$-norm adversarial perturbation characterizes an attack that arbitrarily modifies some features of an input such that a classifier makes an incorrect prediction for the perturbed input. $\ell_0$-norm adversarial perturbation is easy to interpret and can be implemented in the physical world. Therefore, certifying robustness of top-$k$ predictions against $\ell_0$-norm adversarial perturbation is important. However, existing studies either focused on certifying $\ell_0$-norm robustness of top-$1$ predictions or $\ell_2$-norm robustness of top-$k$ predictions. In this work, we aim to bridge the gap. Our approach is based on randomized smoothing, which builds a provably robust classifier from an arbitrary classifier via randomizing an input. Our major theoretical contribution is an almost tight $\ell_0$-norm certified robustness guarantee for top-$k$ predictions. We empirically evaluate our method on CIFAR10 and ImageNet. For instance, our method can build a classifier that achieves a certified top-3 accuracy of 69.2\% on ImageNet when an attacker can arbitrarily perturb 5 pixels of a testing image.

Map Induction: Compositional spatial submap learning for efficient exploration in novel environments

Sugandha Sharma · Aidan Curtis · Marta Kryven · Joshua B Tenenbaum · Ila Fiete

Humans are expert explorers and foragers. Understanding the computational cognitive mechanisms that support this capability can advance the study of the human mind and enable more efficient exploration algorithms. We hypothesize that humans explore new environments by inferring the structure of unobserved spaces through re-use of spatial information collected from previously explored spaces. Taking inspiration from the neuroscience of repeating map fragments and ideas about program induction, we present a novel ``Map Induction'' framework, which involves the generation of novel map proposals for unseen environments based on compositions of already-seen spaces in a Hierarchical Bayesian framework. The model thus explicitly reasons about unseen spaces through a distribution of strong spatial priors. We introduce a new behavioral Map Induction Task (MIT) that involves foraging for rewards to compare human performance with state-of-the-art existing models and Map Induction. We show that Map Induction better predicts human behavior than the non-inductive baselines. We also show that Map Induction, when used to augment state-of-the-art approximate planning algorithms, improves their performance.


Huan He · Shifan Zhao · Yuanzhe Xi · Joyce Ho · Yousef Saad

Many modern machine learning algorithms such as generative adversarial networks (GANs) and adversarial training can be formulated as minimax optimization.Gradient descent ascent (GDA) is the most commonly used algorithm due to its simplicity. However, GDA can converge to non-optimal minimax points. We propose a new minimax optimization framework,GDA-AM, that views the GDA dynamics as a fixed-point iteration and solves it using Anderson Mixing to converge to the local minimax. It addresses the diverging issue of simultaneous GDA and accelerates the convergence of alternating GDA. We show theoretically that the algorithm can achieve global convergence for bilinear problems under mildconditions. We also empirically show that GDA-AM solves a variety of minimax problems and improves GAN training on several datasets

Evaluating Distributional Distortion in Neural Language Modeling

Benjamin LeBrun · Alessandro Sordoni · Timothy O'Donnell

A fundamental characteristic of natural language is the high rate at which speakers produce novel expressions. Because of this novelty, a heavy-tail of rare events accounts for a significant amount of the total probability mass of distributions in language (Baayen, 2001). Standard language modeling metrics such as perplexity quantify the performance of language models (LM) in aggregate. As a result, we have relatively little understanding of whether neural LMs accurately estimate the probability of sequences in this heavy-tail of rare events. To address this gap, we develop a controlled evaluation scheme which uses generative models trained on natural data as artificial languages from which we can exactly compute sequence probabilities. Training LMs on generations from these artificial languages, we compare the sequence-level probability estimates given by LMs to the true probabilities in the target language. Our experiments reveal that LSTM and Transformer language models (i) systematically underestimate the probability of sequences drawn from the target language, and (ii) do so more severely for less-probable sequences. Investigating where this probability mass went, (iii) we find that LMs tend to overestimate the probability of ill formed (perturbed) sequences. In addition, we find that this underestimation behaviour (iv) is weakened, but not eliminated by greater amounts of training data, and (v) is exacerbated for target distributions with lower entropy.

Triangle and Four Cycle Counting with Predictions in Graph Streams

Justin Chen · Talya Eden · Piotr Indyk · Honghao Lin · Shyam Narayanan · Ronitt Rubinfeld · Sandeep Silwal · Tal Wagner · David Woodruff · Michael Zhang

We propose data-driven one-pass streaming algorithms for estimating the number of triangles and four cycles, two fundamental problems in graph analytics that are widely studied in the graph data stream literature. Recently, Hsu et al. (2019) and Jiang et al. (2020) applied machine learning techniques in other data stream problems, using a trained oracle that can predict certain properties of the stream elements to improve on prior “classical” algorithms that did not use oracles. In this paper, we explore the power of a “heavy edge” oracle in multiple graph edge streaming models. In the adjacency list model, we present a one-pass triangle counting algorithm improving upon the previous space upper bounds without such an oracle. In the arbitrary order model, we present algorithms for both triangle and four cycle estimation with fewer passes and the same space complexity as in previous algorithms, and we show several of these bounds are optimal. We analyze our algorithms under several noise models, showing that the algorithms perform well even when the oracle errs. Our methodology expands upon prior work on “classical” streaming algorithms, as previous multi-pass and random order streaming algorithms can be seen as special cases of our algorithms, where the first pass or random order was used to implement the heavy edge oracle. Lastly, our experiments demonstrate advantages of the proposed method compared to state-of-the-art streaming algorithms.

Trivial or Impossible --- dichotomous data difficulty masks model differences (on ImageNet and beyond)

Kristof Meding · Luca Schulze Buschoff · Robert Geirhos · Felix Wichmann

"The power of a generalization system follows directly from its biases" (Mitchell 1980). Today, CNNs are incredibly powerful generalisation systems---but to what degree have we understood how their inductive bias influences model decisions? We here attempt to disentangle the various aspects that determine how a model decides. In particular, we ask: what makes one model decide differently from another? In a meticulously controlled setting, we find that (1.) irrespective of the network architecture or objective (e.g. self-supervised, semi-supervised, vision transformers, recurrent models) all models end up with a similar decision boundary. (2.) To understand these findings, we analysed model decisions on the ImageNet validation set from epoch to epoch and image by image. We find that the ImageNet validation set, among others, suffers from dichotomous data difficulty (DDD): For the range of investigated models and their accuracies, it is dominated by 46.0% "trivial" and 11.5% "impossible" images (beyond label errors). Only 42.5% of the images could possibly be responsible for the differences between two models' decision boundaries. (3.) Only removing the "impossible" and "trivial" images allows us to see pronounced differences between models. (4.) Humans are highly accurate at predicting which images are "trivial" and "impossible" for CNNs (81.4%). This implies that in future comparisons of brains, machines and behaviour, much may be gained from investigating the decisive role of images and the distribution of their difficulties.

Dual Lottery Ticket Hypothesis

Yue Bai · Huan Wang · Zhiqiang Tao · Kunpeng Li · Yun Fu

Fully exploiting the learning capacity of neural networks requires overparameterized dense networks. On the other side, directly training sparse neural networks typically results in unsatisfactory performance. Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (LTH) provides a novel view to investigate sparse network training and maintain its capacity. Concretely, it claims there exist winning tickets from a randomly initialized network found by iterative magnitude pruning and preserving promising trainability (or we say being in trainable condition). In this work, we regard the winning ticket from LTH as the subnetwork which is in trainable condition and its performance as our benchmark, then go from a complementary direction to articulate the Dual Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (DLTH): Randomly selected subnetworks from a randomly initialized dense network can be transformed into a trainable condition and achieve admirable performance compared with LTH --- random tickets in a given lottery pool can be transformed into winning tickets. Specifically, by using uniform-randomly selected subnetworks to represent the general cases, we propose a simple sparse network training strategy, Random Sparse Network Transformation (RST), to substantiate our DLTH. Concretely, we introduce a regularization term to borrow learning capacity and realize information extrusion from the weights which will be masked. After finishing the transformation for the randomly selected subnetworks, we conduct the regular finetuning to evaluate the model using fair comparisons with LTH and other strong baselines. Extensive experiments on several public datasets and comparisons with competitive approaches validate our DLTH as well as the effectiveness of the proposed model RST. Our work is expected to pave a way for inspiring new research directions of sparse network training in the future. Our code is available at

Selective Ensembles for Consistent Predictions

Emily Black · Klas Leino · Matt Fredrikson

Recent work has shown that models trained to the same objective, and which achieve similar measures of accuracy on consistent test data, may nonetheless behave very differently on individual predictions. This inconsistency is undesirable in high-stakes contexts, such as medical diagnosis and finance. We show that this duplicitous behavior extends beyond predictions to feature attributions, which may likewise have negative implications for the intelligibility of a model, and one's ability to find recourse for subjects. We then introduce selective ensembles to mitigate such inconsistencies by applying hypothesis testing to the predictions of a set of models trained using randomly-selected starting conditions; importantly, selective ensembles can abstain in cases where a consistent outcome cannot be achieved up to a specified confidence level. We prove that that prediction disagreement between selective ensembles is bounded, and empirically demonstrate that selective ensembles achieve consistent predictions and feature attributions while maintaining low abstention rates. On several benchmark datasets, selective ensembles reach zero inconsistently predicted points, with abstention rates as low as 1.5%.