Poster Session 6


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Fine-Tuning can Distort Pretrained Features and Underperform Out-of-Distribution

Ananya Kumar · Aditi Raghunathan · Robbie Jones · Tengyu Ma · Percy Liang

When transferring a pretrained model to a downstream task, two popular methods are full fine-tuning (updating all the model parameters) and linear probing (updating only the last linear layer---the "head"). It is well known that fine-tuning leads to better accuracy in-distribution (ID). However, in this paper, we find that fine-tuning can achieve worse accuracy than linear probing out-of-distribution (OOD) when the pretrained features are good and the distribution shift is large. On 10 distribution shift datasets (BREEDS-Living17, BREEDS-Entity30, DomainNet, CIFAR $\to$ STL, CIFAR-10.1, FMoW, ImageNetV2, ImageNet-R, ImageNet-A, ImageNet-Sketch), fine-tuning obtains on average 2% higher accuracy ID but 7% lower accuracy OOD than linear probing. We show theoretically that this tradeoff between ID and OOD accuracy arises even in a simple setting: fine-tuning overparameterized two-layer linear networks. We prove that the OOD error of fine-tuning is high when we initialize with a fixed or random head---this is because while fine-tuning learns the head, the lower layers of the neural network change simultaneously and distort the pretrained features. Our analysis suggests that the easy two-step strategy of linear probing then full fine-tuning (LP-FT), sometimes used as a fine-tuning heuristic, combines the benefits of both fine-tuning and linear probing. Empirically, LP-FT outperforms both fine-tuning and linear probing on the above datasets (1% better ID, 10% better OOD than full fine-tuning).

TAPEX: Table Pre-training via Learning a Neural SQL Executor

Qian Liu · Bei Chen · Jiaqi Guo · Morteza Ziyadi · Zeqi Lin · Weizhu Chen · Jian-Guang Lou

Recent progress in language model pre-training has achieved a great success via leveraging large-scale unstructured textual data. However, it is still a challenge to apply pre-training on structured tabular data due to the absence of large-scale high-quality tabular data. In this paper, we propose TAPEX to show that table pre-training can be achieved by learning a neural SQL executor over a synthetic corpus, which is obtained by automatically synthesizing executable SQL queries and their execution outputs. TAPEX addresses the data scarcity challenge via guiding the language model to mimic a SQL executor on the diverse, large-scale and high-quality synthetic corpus. We evaluate TAPEX on four benchmark datasets. Experimental results demonstrate that TAPEX outperforms previous table pre-training approaches by a large margin and achieves new state-of-the-art results on all of them. This includes the improvements on the weakly-supervised WikiSQL denotation accuracy to 89.5% (+2.3%), the WikiTableQuestions denotation accuracy to 57.5% (+4.8%), the SQA denotation accuracy to 74.5% (+3.5%), and the TabFact accuracy to 84.2% (+3.2%). To our knowledge, this is the first work to exploit table pre-training via synthetic executable programs and to achieve new state-of-the-art results on various downstream tasks. Our code can be found at

Causal Contextual Bandits with Targeted Interventions

Chandrasekar Subramanian · Balaraman Ravindran

We study a contextual bandit setting where the learning agent has the ability to perform interventions on targeted subsets of the population, apart from possessing qualitative causal side-information. This novel formalism captures intricacies in real-world scenarios such as software product experimentation where targeted experiments can be conducted. However, this fundamentally changes the set of options that the agent has, compared to standard contextual bandit settings, necessitating new techniques. This is also the first work that integrates causal side-information in a contextual bandit setting, where the agent aims to learn a policy that maps contexts to arms (as opposed to just identifying one best arm). We propose a new algorithm, which we show empirically performs better than baselines on experiments that use purely synthetic data and on real world-inspired experiments. We also prove a bound on regret that theoretically guards performance.

Recycling Model Updates in Federated Learning: Are Gradient Subspaces Low-Rank?

Sheikh Shams Azam · Seyyedali Hosseinalipour · Qiang Qiu · Christopher Brinton

In this paper, we question the rationale behind propagating large numbers of parameters through a distributed system during federated learning. We start by examining the rank characteristics of the subspace spanned by gradients (i.e., the gradient-space) in centralized model training, and observe that the gradient-space often consists of a few leading principal components accounting for an overwhelming majority (95-99%) of the explained variance. Motivated by this, we propose the "Look-back Gradient Multiplier" (LBGM) algorithm, which utilizes this low-rank property of the gradient-space in federated learning. Operationally, LBGM recycles the gradients between model update rounds to significantly reduce the number of parameters to be propagated through the system. We analytically characterize the convergence behavior of LBGM, revealing the nature of the trade-off between communication savings and model performance. Our subsequent experimental results demonstrate the improvement LBGM obtains on communication overhead compared to federated learning baselines. Additionally, we show that LBGM is a general plug-and-play algorithm that can be used standalone or stacked on top of existing sparsification techniques for distributed model training.

Multi-Mode Deep Matrix and Tensor Factorization

Jicong Fan

Recently, deep linear and nonlinear matrix factorizations gain increasing attention in the area of machine learning. Existing deep nonlinear matrix factorization methods can only exploit partial nonlinearity of the data and are not effective in handling matrices of which the number of rows is comparable to the number of columns. On the other hand, there is still a gap between deep learning and tensor decomposition. This paper presents a framework of multi-mode deep matrix and tensor factorizations to explore and exploit the full nonlinearity of the data in matrices and tensors. We use the factorization methods to solve matrix and tensor completion problems and prove that our methods have tighter generalization error bounds than conventional matrix and tensor factorization methods. The experiments on synthetic data and real datasets showed that the proposed methods have much higher recovery accuracy than many baselines.

Representing Mixtures of Word Embeddings with Mixtures of Topic Embeddings

dongsheng wang · Dandan Guo · He Zhao · Huangjie Zheng · Korawat Tanwisuth · Bo Chen · Mingyuan Zhou

A topic model is often formulated as a generative model that explains how each word of a document is generated given a set of topics and document-specific topic proportions. It is focused on capturing the word co-occurrences in a document and hence often suffers from poor performance in analyzing short documents. In addition, its parameter estimation often relies on approximate posterior inference that is either not scalable or suffering from large approximation error. This paper introduces a new topic-modeling framework where each document is viewed as a set of word embedding vectors and each topic is modeled as an embedding vector in the same embedding space. Embedding the words and topics in the same vector space, we define a method to measure the semantic difference between the embedding vectors of the words of a document and these of the topics, and optimize the topic embeddings to minimize the expected difference over all documents. Experiments on text analysis demonstrate that the proposed method, which is amenable to mini-batch stochastic gradient descent based optimization and hence scalable to big corpora, provides competitive performance in discovering more coherent and diverse topics and extracting better document representations.

Sampling with Mirrored Stein Operators

Jiaxin Shi · Chang Liu · Lester Mackey

We introduce a new family of particle evolution samplers suitable for constrained domains and non-Euclidean geometries. Stein Variational Mirror Descent and Mirrored Stein Variational Gradient Descent minimize the Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence to constrained target distributions by evolving particles in a dual space defined by a mirror map. Stein Variational Natural Gradient exploits non-Euclidean geometry to more efficiently minimize the KL divergence to unconstrained targets. We derive these samplers from a new class of mirrored Stein operators and adaptive kernels developed in this work. We demonstrate that these new samplers yield accurate approximations to distributions on the simplex, deliver valid confidence intervals in post-selection inference, and converge more rapidly than prior methods in large-scale unconstrained posterior inference. Finally, we establish the convergence of our new procedures under verifiable conditions on the target distribution.

Towards Understanding the Data Dependency of Mixup-style Training

Muthu Chidambaram · Xiang Wang · Yuzheng Hu · Chenwei Wu · Rong Ge

In the Mixup training paradigm, a model is trained using convex combinations of data points and their associated labels. Despite seeing very few true data points during training, models trained using Mixup seem to still minimize the original empirical risk and exhibit better generalization and robustness on various tasks when compared to standard training. In this paper, we investigate how these benefits of Mixup training rely on properties of the data in the context of classification. For minimizing the original empirical risk, we compute a closed form for the Mixup-optimal classification, which allows us to construct a simple dataset on which minimizing the Mixup loss leads to learning a classifier that does not minimize the empirical loss on the data. On the other hand, we also give sufficient conditions for Mixup training to also minimize the original empirical risk. For generalization, we characterize the margin of a Mixup classifier, and use this to understand why the decision boundary of a Mixup classifier can adapt better to the full structure of the training data when compared to standard training. In contrast, we also show that, for a large class of linear models and linearly separable datasets, Mixup training leads to learning the same classifier as standard training.

Learning to Remember Patterns: Pattern Matching Memory Networks for Traffic Forecasting

Hyunwook Lee · Seungmin Jin · Hyeshin Chu · Hongkyu Lim · Sungahn Ko

Traffic forecasting is a challenging problem due to complex road networks and sudden speed changes caused by various events on roads. Several models have been proposed to solve this challenging problem, with a focus on learning the spatio-temporal dependencies of roads. In this work, we propose a new perspective for converting the forecasting problem into a pattern-matching task, assuming that large traffic data can be represented by a set of patterns. To evaluate the validity of this new perspective, we design a novel traffic forecasting model called Pattern-Matching Memory Networks (PM-MemNet), which learns to match input data to representative patterns with a key-value memory structure. We first extract and cluster representative traffic patterns that serve as keys in the memory. Then, by matching the extracted keys and inputs, PM-MemNet acquires the necessary information on existing traffic patterns from the memory and uses it for forecasting. To model the spatio-temporal correlation of traffic, we proposed a novel memory architecture, GCMem, which integrates attention and graph convolution. The experimental results indicate that PM-MemNet is more accurate than state-of-the-art models, such as Graph WaveNet, with higher responsiveness. We also present a qualitative analysis describing how PM-MemNet works and achieves higher accuracy when road speed changes rapidly.

Actor-Critic Policy Optimization in a Large-Scale Imperfect-Information Game

Haobo Fu · Weiming Liu · Shuang Wu · Yijia Wang · Tao Yang · Kai Li · Junliang Xing · Bin Li · Bo Ma · QIANG FU · Yang Wei

The deep policy gradient method has demonstrated promising results in many large-scale games, where the agent learns purely from its own experience. Yet, policy gradient methods with self-play suffer convergence problems to a Nash Equilibrium (NE) in multi-agent situations. Counterfactual regret minimization (CFR) has a convergence guarantee to a NE in 2-player zero-sum games, but it usually needs domain-specific abstractions to deal with large-scale games. Inheriting merits from both methods, in this paper we extend the actor-critic algorithm framework in deep reinforcement learning to tackle a large-scale 2-player zero-sum imperfect-information game, 1-on-1 Mahjong, whose information set size and game length are much larger than poker. The proposed algorithm, named Actor-Critic Hedge (ACH), modifies the policy optimization objective from originally maximizing the discounted returns to minimizing a type of weighted cumulative counterfactual regret. This modification is achieved by approximating the regret via a deep neural network and minimizing the regret via generating self-play policies using Hedge. ACH is theoretically justified as it is derived from a neural-based weighted CFR, for which we prove the convergence to a NE under certain conditions. Experimental results on the proposed 1-on-1 Mahjong benchmark and benchmarks from the literature demonstrate that ACH outperforms related state-of-the-art methods. Also, the agent obtained by ACH defeats a human champion in 1-on-1 Mahjong.

Learning Towards The Largest Margins

Xiong Zhou · Xianming Liu · Deming Zhai · Junjun Jiang · Xin Gao · Xiangyang Ji

One of the main challenges for feature representation in deep learning-based classification is the design of appropriate loss functions that exhibit strong discriminative power. The classical softmax loss does not explicitly encourage discriminative learning of features. A popular direction of research is to incorporate margins in well-established losses in order to enforce extra intra-class compactness and inter-class separability, which, however, were developed through heuristic means, as opposed to rigorous mathematical principles. In this work, we attempt to address this limitation by formulating the principled optimization objective as learning towards the largest margins. Specifically, we firstly propose to employ the class margin as the measure of inter-class separability, and the sample margin as the measure of intra-class compactness. Accordingly, to encourage discriminative representation of features, the loss function should promote the largest possible margins for both classes and samples. Furthermore, we derive a generalized margin softmax loss to draw general conclusions for the existing margin-based losses. Not only does this principled framework offer new perspectives to understand and interpret existing margin-based losses, but it also provides new insights that can guide the design of new tools, including \textit{sample margin regularization} and \textit{largest margin softmax loss} for class balanced cases, and \textit{zero centroid regularization} for class imbalanced cases. Experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of our strategy for multiple tasks including visual classification, imbalanced classification, person re-identification, and face verification.

X-model: Improving Data Efficiency in Deep Learning with A Minimax Model

Ximei Wang · Xinyang Chen · Jianmin Wang · Mingsheng Long

To mitigate the burden of data labeling, we aim at improving data efficiency for both classification and regression setups in deep learning. However, the current focus is on classification problems while rare attention has been paid to deep regression, which usually requires more human effort to labeling. Further, due to the intrinsic difference between categorical and continuous label space, the common intuitions for classification, \textit{e.g.} cluster assumptions or pseudo labeling strategies, cannot be naturally adapted into deep regression. To this end, we first delved into the existing data-efficient methods in deep learning and found that they either encourage invariance to \textit{data stochasticity} (\textit{e.g.}, consistency regularization under different augmentations) or \textit{model stochasticity} (\textit{e.g.}, difference penalty for predictions of models with different dropout). To take the power of both worlds, we propose a novel \Chi-model by simultaneously encouraging the invariance to {data stochasticity} and {model stochasticity}. Further, the \Chi-model plays a minimax game between the feature extractor and task-specific heads to further enhance the invariance to model stochasticity. Extensive experiments verify the superiority of the \Chi-model among various tasks, from a single-value prediction task of age estimation to a dense-value prediction task of keypoint localization, a 2D synthetic and a 3D realistic dataset, as well as a multi-category object recognition task.

Transformer Embeddings of Irregularly Spaced Events and Their Participants

Hongyuan Mei · Chenghao Yang · Jason Eisner

The neural Hawkes process (Mei & Eisner, 2017) is a generative model of irregularly spaced sequences of discrete events. To handle complex domains with many event types, Mei et al. (2020a) further consider a setting in which each event in the sequence updates a deductive database of facts (via domain-specific pattern-matching rules); future events are then conditioned on the database contents. They show how to convert such a symbolic system into a neuro-symbolic continuous-time generative model, in which each database fact and possible event has a time-varying embedding that is derived from its symbolic provenance. In this paper, we modify both models, replacing their recurrent LSTM-based architectures with flatter attention-based architectures (Vaswani et al., 2017), which are simpler and more parallelizable. This does not appear to hurt our accuracy, which is comparable to or better than that of the original models as well as (where applicable) previous attention-based methods (Zuo et al., 2020; Zhang et al., 2020a).

Conditional Contrastive Learning with Kernel

Yao-Hung Hubert Tsai · Tianqin Li · Martin Ma · Han Zhao · Kun Zhang · Louis-Philippe Morency · Ruslan Salakhutdinov

Conditional contrastive learning frameworks consider the conditional sampling procedure that constructs positive or negative data pairs conditioned on specific variables. Fair contrastive learning constructs negative pairs, for example, from the same gender (conditioning on sensitive information), which in turn reduces undesirable information from the learned representations; weakly supervised contrastive learning constructs positive pairs with similar annotative attributes (conditioning on auxiliary information), which in turn are incorporated into the representations. Although conditional contrastive learning enables many applications, the conditional sampling procedure can be challenging if we cannot obtain sufficient data pairs for some values of the conditioning variable. This paper presents Conditional Contrastive Learning with Kernel (CCL-K) that converts existing conditional contrastive objectives into alternative forms that mitigate the insufficient data problem. Instead of sampling data according to the value of the conditioning variable, CCL-K uses the Kernel Conditional Embedding Operator that samples data from all available data and assigns weights to each sampled data given the kernel similarity between the values of the conditioning variable. We conduct experiments using weakly supervised, fair, and hard negatives contrastive learning, showing CCL-K outperforms state-of-the-art baselines.

Training Transition Policies via Distribution Matching for Complex Tasks

Ju-Seung Byun · Andrew Perrault

Humans decompose novel complex tasks into simpler ones to exploit previously learned skills. Analogously, hierarchical reinforcement learning seeks to leverage lower-level policies for simple tasks to solve complex ones. However, because each lower-level policy induces a different distribution of states, transitioning from one lower-level policy to another may fail due to an unexpected starting state. We introduce transition policies that smoothly connect lower-level policies by producing a distribution of states and actions that matches what is expected by the next policy. Training transition policies is challenging because the natural reward signal---whether the next policy can execute its subtask successfully---is sparse. By training transition policies via adversarial inverse reinforcement learning to match the distribution of expected states and actions, we avoid relying on task-based reward. To further improve performance, we use deep Q-learning with a binary action space to determine when to switch from a transition policy to the next pre-trained policy, using the success or failure of the next subtask as the reward. Although the reward is still sparse, the problem is less severe due to the simple binary action space. We demonstrate our method on continuous bipedal locomotion and arm manipulation tasks that require diverse skills. We show that it smoothly connects the lower-level policies, achieving higher success rates than previous methods that search for successful trajectories based on a reward function, but do not match the state distribution.

Procedural generalization by planning with self-supervised world models

Ankesh Anand · Jacob C Walker · Yazhe Li · Eszter Vertes · Julian Schrittwieser · Sherjil Ozair · Theophane Weber · Jessica Hamrick

One of the key promises of model-based reinforcement learning is the ability to generalize using an internal model of the world to make predictions in novel environments and tasks. However, the generalization ability of model-based agents is not well understood because existing work has focused on model-free agents when benchmarking generalization. Here, we explicitly measure the generalization ability of model-based agents in comparison to their model-free counterparts. We focus our analysis on MuZero (Schrittwieser et al., 2020), a powerful model-based agent, and evaluate its performance on both procedural and task generalization. We identify three factors of procedural generalization---planning, self-supervised representation learning, and procedural data diversity---and show that by combining these techniques, we achieve state-of-the art generalization performance and data efficiency on Procgen (Cobbe et al., 2019). However, we find that these factors do not always provide the same benefits for the task generalization benchmarks in Meta-World (Yu et al., 2019), indicating that transfer remains a challenge and may require different approaches than procedural generalization. Overall, we suggest that building generalizable agents requires moving beyond the single-task, model-free paradigm and towards self-supervised model-based agents that are trained in rich, procedural, multi-task environments.

Backdoor Defense via Decoupling the Training Process

Kunzhe Huang · Yiming Li · Baoyuan Wu · Zhan Qin · Kui Ren

Recent studies have revealed that deep neural networks (DNNs) are vulnerable to backdoor attacks, where attackers embed hidden backdoors in the DNN model by poisoning a few training samples. The attacked model behaves normally on benign samples, whereas its prediction will be maliciously changed when the backdoor is activated. We reveal that poisoned samples tend to cluster together in the feature space of the attacked DNN model, which is mostly due to the end-to-end supervised training paradigm. Inspired by this observation, we propose a novel backdoor defense via decoupling the original end-to-end training process into three stages. Specifically, we first learn the backbone of a DNN model via \emph{self-supervised learning} based on training samples without their labels. The learned backbone will map samples with the same ground-truth label to similar locations in the feature space. Then, we freeze the parameters of the learned backbone and train the remaining fully connected layers via standard training with all (labeled) training samples. Lastly, to further alleviate side-effects of poisoned samples in the second stage, we remove labels of some `low-credible' samples determined based on the learned model and conduct a \emph{semi-supervised fine-tuning} of the whole model. Extensive experiments on multiple benchmark datasets and DNN models verify that the proposed defense is effective in reducing backdoor threats while preserving high accuracy in predicting benign samples. Our code is available at \url{}.

Multi-objective Optimization by Learning Space Partition

Yiyang Zhao · Linnan Wang · Kevin Yang · Tianjun Zhang · Tian Guo · Yuandong Tian

In contrast to single-objective optimization (SOO), multi-objective optimization (MOO) requires an optimizer to find the Pareto frontier, a subset of feasible solutions that are not dominated by other feasible solutions. In this paper, we propose LaMOO, a novel multi-objective optimizer that learns a model from observed samples to partition the search space and then focus on promising regions that are likely to contain a subset of the Pareto frontier. The partitioning is based on the dominance number, which measures "how close'' a data point is to the Pareto frontier among existing samples. To account for possible partition errors due to limited samples and model mismatch, we leverage Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) to exploit promising regions while exploring suboptimal regions that may turn out to contain good solutions later. Theoretically, we prove the efficacy of learning space partitioning via LaMOO under certain assumptions. Empirically, on the HyperVolume (HV) benchmark, a popular MOO metric, LaMOO substantially outperforms strong baselines on multiple real-world MOO tasks, by up to 225% in sample efficiency for neural architecture search on Nasbench201, and up to 10% for molecular design.

Skill-based Meta-Reinforcement Learning

Taewook Nam · Shao-Hua Sun · Karl Pertsch · Sung Ju Hwang · Joseph Lim

While deep reinforcement learning methods have shown impressive results in robot learning, their sample inefficiency makes the learning of complex, long-horizon behaviors with real robot systems infeasible. To mitigate this issue, meta-reinforcement learning methods aim to enable fast learning on novel tasks by learning how to learn. Yet, the application has been limited to short-horizon tasks with dense rewards. To enable learning long-horizon behaviors, recent works have explored leveraging prior experience in the form of offline datasets without reward or task annotations. While these approaches yield improved sample efficiency, millions of interactions with environments are still required to solve complex tasks. In this work, we devise a method that enables meta-learning on long-horizon, sparse-reward tasks, allowing us to solve unseen target tasks with orders of magnitude fewer environment interactions. Our core idea is to leverage prior experience extracted from offline datasets during meta-learning. Specifically, we propose to (1) extract reusable skills and a skill prior from offline datasets, (2) meta-train a high-level policy that learns to efficiently compose learned skills into long-horizon behaviors, and (3) rapidly adapt the meta-trained policy to solve an unseen target task. Experimental results on continuous control tasks in navigation and manipulation demonstrate that the proposed method can efficiently solve long-horizon novel target tasks by combining the strengths of meta-learning and the usage of offline datasets, while prior approaches in RL, meta-RL, and multi-task RL require substantially more environment interactions to solve the tasks.

Differentially Private Fine-tuning of Language Models

Da Yu · Saurabh Naik · Arturs Backurs · Sivakanth Gopi · Huseyin Inan · Gautam Kamath · Janardhan Kulkarni · Yin Tat Lee · Andre Manoel · Lukas Wutschitz · Sergey Yekhanin · Huishuai Zhang

We give simpler, sparser, and faster algorithms for differentially private fine-tuning of large-scale pre-trained language models, which achieve the state-of-the-art privacy versus utility tradeoffs on many standard NLP tasks. We propose a meta-framework for this problem, inspired by the recent success of highly parameter-efficient methods for fine-tuning. Our experiments show that differentially private adaptations of these approaches outperform previous private algorithms in three important dimensions: utility, privacy, and the computational and memory cost of private training. On many commonly studied datasets, the utility of private models approaches that of non-private models. For example, on the MNLI dataset we achieve an accuracy of $87.8\%$ using RoBERTa-Large and $83.5\%$ using RoBERTa-Base with a privacy budget of $\epsilon = 6.7$. In comparison, absent privacy constraints, RoBERTa-Large achieves an accuracy of $90.2\%$. Our findings are similar for natural language generation when privately fine-tuning GPT-2. Our experiments also show that larger models are better suited for private fine-tuning: while they are well known to achieve superior accuracy non-privately, we find that they also better maintain their accuracy when privacy is introduced.

Does your graph need a confidence boost? Convergent boosted smoothing on graphs with tabular node features

Jiuhai Chen · Jonas Mueller · Vassilis N. Ioannidis · Soji Adeshina · Yangkun Wang · Tom Goldstein · David Wipf

Many practical modeling tasks require making predictions using tabular data composed of heterogeneous feature types (e.g., text-based, categorical, continuous, etc.). In this setting boosted decision trees and related ensembling techniques generally dominate real-world applications involving iid training/test sets. However, when there are relations between samples and the iid assumption is no longer reasonable, it remains unclear how to incorporate these dependencies within existing boosting pipelines. To this end, we propose a generalized framework for combining boosted trees and more general model ensembling techniques, with graph propagation layers that share node/sample information across edges connecting related samples. And unlike previous efforts to integrate graph-based models with boosting, our approach is anchored to a principled meta loss function such that provable convergence can be guaranteed under relatively mild assumptions. Across a variety of benchmarks involving non-iid graph data with tabular node features, our framework achieves comparable or superior performance.

Graph-Enhanced Exploration for Goal-oriented Reinforcement Learning

Jiarui Jin · Sijin Zhou · Weinan Zhang · Tong He · Yong Yu · Rasool Fakoor

Goal-oriented Reinforcement Learning (GoRL) is a promising approach for scaling up RL techniques on sparse reward environments requiring long horizon planning. Recent works attempt to build suitable abstraction graph of the environment and enhance GoRL with classical graphical methods such as shortest path searching; however, these approaches mainly focus on either graph construction or agent exploitation, but leave the exploration lack of study. This paper proposes Graph-enhanced GoRL (G2RL), a new GoRL framework for effective exploration and efficient training based on the state-transition graph. We first introduce the optimal goals for exploration on the graph and then use them as supervised signals to train the goal generator in G2RL in a hindsight manner. Furthermore, we define relevant trajectories of a state based on its graph neighborhood and show that giving high priority to these trajectories would lead to an efficient policy learning. In addition to the theoretical results regarding optimal goal generation, our empirical results on standard discrete and continuous control benchmarks show that leveraging the state-transition graph is beneficial for GoRL to learn an effective and informative exploration strategy and outperform the state-of-the-art methods.

Understanding Latent Correlation-Based Multiview Learning and Self-Supervision: An Identifiability Perspective

Qi Lyu · Xiao Fu · Weiran Wang · Songtao Lu

Multiple views of data, both naturally acquired (e.g., image and audio) and artificially produced (e.g., via adding different noise to data samples), have proven useful in enhancing representation learning. Natural views are often handled by multiview analysis tools, e.g., (deep) canonical correlation analysis [(D)CCA], while the artificial ones are frequently used in self-supervised learning (SSL) paradigms, e.g., BYOL and Barlow Twins. Both types of approaches often involve learning neural feature extractors such that the embeddings of data exhibit high cross-view correlations. Although intuitive, the effectiveness of correlation-based neural embedding is mostly empirically validated. This work aims to understand latent correlation maximization-based deep multiview learning from a latent component identification viewpoint. An intuitive generative model of multiview data is adopted, where the views are different nonlinear mixtures of shared and private components. Since the shared components are view/distortion-invariant, representing the data using such components is believed to reveal the identity of the samples effectively and robustly. Under this model, latent correlation maximization is shown to guarantee the extraction of the shared components across views (up to certain ambiguities). In addition, it is further shown that the private information in each view can be provably disentangled from the shared using proper regularization design. A finite sample analysis, which has been rare in nonlinear mixture identifiability study, is also presented. The theoretical results and newly designed regularization are tested on a series of tasks.

Towards Deployment-Efficient Reinforcement Learning: Lower Bound and Optimality

Jiawei Huang · Jinglin Chen · Li Zhao · Tao Qin · Nan Jiang · Tie-Yan Liu

Deployment efficiency is an important criterion for many real-world applications of reinforcement learning (RL). Despite the community's increasing interest, there lacks a formal theoretical formulation for the problem. In this paper, we propose such a formulation for deployment-efficient RL (DE-RL) from an ''optimization with constraints'' perspective: we are interested in exploring an MDP and obtaining a near-optimal policy within minimal \emph{deployment complexity}, whereas in each deployment the policy can sample a large batch of data. Using finite-horizon linear MDPs as a concrete structural model, we reveal the fundamental limit in achieving deployment efficiency by establishing information-theoretic lower bounds, and provide algorithms that achieve the optimal deployment efficiency. Moreover, our formulation for DE-RL is flexible and can serve as a building block for other practically relevant settings; we give ''Safe DE-RL'' and ''Sample-Efficient DE-RL'' as two examples, which may be worth future investigation.

NASI: Label- and Data-agnostic Neural Architecture Search at Initialization

Yao Shu · shaofeng cai · Zhongxiang Dai · Beng Chin Ooi · Bryan Kian Hsiang Low

Recent years have witnessed a surging interest in Neural Architecture Search (NAS). Various algorithms have been proposed to improve the search efficiency and effectiveness of NAS, i.e., to reduce the search cost and improve the generalization performance of the selected architectures, respectively. However, the search efficiency of these algorithms is severely limited by the need for model training during the search process. To overcome this limitation, we propose a novel NAS algorithm called NAS at Initialization (NASI) that exploits the capability of a Neural Tangent Kernel in being able to characterize the performance of candidate architectures at initialization, hence allowing model training to be completely avoided to boost the search efficiency. Besides the improved search efficiency, NASI also achieves competitive search effectiveness on various datasets like CIFAR-10/100 and ImageNet. Further, NASI is shown to be label- and data-agnostic under mild conditions, which guarantees the transferability of architectures selected by our NASI over different datasets.

GLASS: GNN with Labeling Tricks for Subgraph Representation Learning

Xiyuan Wang · Muhan Zhang

Despite the remarkable achievements of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) on graph representation learning, few works have tried to use them to predict properties of subgraphs in the whole graph. The existing state-of-the-art method SubGNN introduces an overly complicated subgraph-level GNN model which synthesizes three artificial channels each of which has two carefully designed subgraph-level message passing modules, yet only slightly outperforms a plain GNN which performs node-level message passing and then pools node embeddings within the subgraph. By analyzing SubGNN and plain GNNs, we find that the key for subgraph representation learning might be to distinguish nodes inside and outside the subgraph. With this insight, we propose an expressive and scalable labeling trick, namely max-zero-one, to enhance plain GNNs for subgraph tasks. The resulting model is called GLASS (GNN with LAbeling trickS for Subgraph). We theoretically characterize GLASS's expressive power. Compared with SubGNN, GLASS is more expressive, more scalable, and easier to implement. Experiments on eight benchmark datasets show that GLASS outperforms the strongest baseline by $14.8\%$ on average. And ablation analysis shows that our max-zero-one labeling trick can boost the performance of a plain GNN by up to $105\%$ in maximum, which illustrates the effectiveness of labeling trick on subgraph tasks. Furthermore, training a GLASS model only takes $37\%$ time needed for a SubGNN on average.

Latent Image Animator: Learning to Animate Images via Latent Space Navigation

Yaohui Wang · Di Yang · Francois Bremond · Antitza Dantcheva

Due to the remarkable progress of deep generative models, animating images has become increasingly efficient, whereas associated results have become increasingly realistic. Current animation-approaches commonly exploit structure representation extracted from driving videos. Such structure representation is instrumental in transferring motion from driving videos to still images. However, such approaches fail in case the source image and driving video encompass large appearance variation. Moreover, the extraction of structure information requires additional modules that endow the animation-model with increased complexity. Deviating from such models, we here introduce the Latent Image Animator (LIA), a self-supervised autoencoder that evades need for structure representation. LIA is streamlined to animate images by linear navigation in the latent space. Specifically, motion in generated video is constructed by linear displacement of codes in the latent space. Towards this, we learn a set of orthogonal motion directions simultaneously, and use their linear combination, in order to represent any displacement in the latent space. Extensive quantitative and qualitative analysis suggests that our model systematically and significantly outperforms state-of-art methods on VoxCeleb, Taichi and TED-talk datasets w.r.t. generated quality.

TAda! Temporally-Adaptive Convolutions for Video Understanding

Ziyuan Huang · Shiwei Zhang · Liang Pan · Zhiwu Qing · Mingqian Tang · Ziwei Liu · Marcelo Ang Jr

Spatial convolutions are widely used in numerous deep video models. It fundamentally assumes spatio-temporal invariance, i.e., using shared weights for every location in different frames. This work presents Temporally-Adaptive Convolutions (TAdaConv) for video understanding, which shows that adaptive weight calibration along the temporal dimension is an efficient way to facilitate modelling complex temporal dynamics in videos. Specifically, TAdaConv empowers the spatial convolutions with temporal modelling abilities by calibrating the convolution weights for each frame according to its local and global temporal context. Compared to previous temporal modelling operations, TAdaConv is more efficient as it operates over the convolution kernels instead of the features, whose dimension is an order of magnitude smaller than the spatial resolutions. Further, the kernel calibration brings an increased model capacity. We construct TAda2D and TAdaConvNeXt networks by replacing the 2D convolutions in ResNet and ConvNeXt with TAdaConv, which leads to at least on par or better performance compared to state-of-the-art approaches on multiple video action recognition and localization benchmarks. We also demonstrate that as a readily plug-in operation with negligible computation overhead, TAdaConv can effectively improve many existing video models with a convincing margin.

Learning to Complete Code with Sketches

Daya Guo · Alexey Svyatkovskiy · Jian Yin · Nan Duan · Marc Brockschmidt · Miltiadis Allamanis

Code completion is usually cast as a language modelling problem, i.e., continuing an input in a left-to-right fashion. However, in practice, some parts of the completion (e.g., string literals) may be very hard to predict, whereas subsequent parts directly follow from the context.To handle this, we instead consider the scenario of generating code completions with "holes" inserted in places where a model is uncertain. We develop Grammformer, a Transformer-based model that guides the code generation by the programming language grammar, and compare it to a variety of more standard sequence models.We train the models on code completion for C# and Python given partial code context. To evaluate models, we consider both ROUGE as well as a new metric RegexAcc that measures success of generating completions matching long outputs with as few holes as possible.In our experiments, Grammformer generates 10-50% more accurate completions compared to traditional generative models and 37-50% longer sketches compared to sketch-generating baselines trained with similar techniques.

Robust Unlearnable Examples: Protecting Data Privacy Against Adversarial Learning

Shaopeng Fu · Fengxiang He · Yang Liu · Li Shen · Dacheng Tao

The tremendous amount of accessible data in cyberspace face the risk of being unauthorized used for training deep learning models. To address this concern, methods are proposed to make data unlearnable for deep learning models by adding a type of error-minimizing noise. However, such conferred unlearnability is found fragile to adversarial training. In this paper, we design new methods to generate robust unlearnable examples that are protected from adversarial training. We first find that the vanilla error-minimizing noise, which suppresses the informative knowledge of data via minimizing the corresponding training loss, could not effectively minimize the adversarial training loss. This explains the vulnerability of error-minimizing noise in adversarial training. Based on the observation, robust error-minimizing noise is then introduced to reduce the adversarial training loss. Experiments show that the unlearnability brought by robust error-minimizing noise can effectively protect data from adversarial training in various scenarios. The code is available at \url{}.

Equivariant Graph Mechanics Networks with Constraints

Wenbing Huang · Jiaqi Han · Yu Rong · Tingyang Xu · Fuchun Sun · Junzhou Huang

Learning to reason about relations and dynamics over multiple interacting objects is a challenging topic in machine learning. The challenges mainly stem from that the interacting systems are exponentially-compositional, symmetrical, and commonly geometrically-constrained.Current methods, particularly the ones based on equivariant Graph Neural Networks (GNNs), have targeted on the first two challenges but remain immature for constrained systems. In this paper, we propose Graph Mechanics Network (GMN) which is combinatorially efficient, equivariant and constraint-aware. The core of GMN is that it represents, by generalized coordinates, the forward kinematics information (positions and velocities) of a structural object. In this manner, the geometrical constraints are implicitly and naturally encoded in the forward kinematics. Moreover, to allow equivariant message passing in GMN, we have developed a general form of orthogonality-equivariant functions, given that the dynamics of constrained systems are more complicated than the unconstrained counterparts. Theoretically, the proposed equivariant formulation is proved to be universally expressive under certain conditions. Extensive experiments support the advantages of GMN compared to the state-of-the-art GNNs in terms of prediction accuracy, constraint satisfaction and data efficiency on the simulated systems consisting of particles, sticks and hinges, as well as two real-world datasets for molecular dynamics prediction and human motion capture.

Invariant Causal Representation Learning for Out-of-Distribution Generalization

Chaochao Lu · Yuhuai Wu · José Miguel Hernández Lobato · Bernhard Schoelkopf

Due to spurious correlations, machine learning systems often fail to generalize to environments whose distributions differ from the ones used at training time. Prior work addressing this, either explicitly or implicitly, attempted to find a data representation that has an invariant relationship with the target. This is done by leveraging a diverse set of training environments to reduce the effect of spurious features and build an invariant predictor. However, these methods have generalization guarantees only when both data representation and classifiers come from a linear model class. We propose invariant Causal Representation Learning (iCaRL), an approach that enables out-of-distribution (OOD) generalization in the nonlinear setting (i.e., nonlinear representations and nonlinear classifiers). It builds upon a practical and general assumption: the prior over the data representation (i.e., a set of latent variables encoding the data) given the target and the environment belongs to general exponential family distributions, i.e., a more flexible conditionally non-factorized prior that can actually capture complicated dependences between the latent variables. Based on this, we show that it is possible to identify the data representation up to simple transformations. We also show that all direct causes of the target can be fully discovered, which further enables us to obtain generalization guarantees in the nonlinear setting. Experiments on both synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate that our approach outperforms a variety of baseline methods.

Adaptive Wavelet Transformer Network for 3D Shape Representation Learning

Hao Huang · Yi Fang

We present a novel method for 3D shape representation learning using multi-scale wavelet decomposition. Distinct from previous works that either decompose 3D shapes into complementary components at a single scale, or naively adopt up-/down-sampling to build hierarchies and treat all points or local regions equally, we decompose 3D shapes into sub-bands components at multiple scales and all scales form a decomposition tree in a principled manner rooted in multi-resolution wavelet analysis. Specifically, we propose Adaptive Wavelet Transformer Network (AWT-Net) that firstly generates approximation or detail wavelet coefficients per point, classifying each point into high or low sub bands components, using lifting scheme at multiple scales recursively and hierarchically. Then, AWT-Net exploits Transformer that treats the features from different but complementary components as two integrated representations, and fuses them with the original shape features with different attentions. The wavelet coefficients can be learned without direct supervision on coefficients, and AWT-Net is fully differentiable and can be learned in an end-to-end fashion. Extensive experiments demonstrate that AWT-Net achieves competitive performance on 3D shape classification and segmentation benchmarks.

An Autoregressive Flow Model for 3D Molecular Geometry Generation from Scratch

Youzhi Luo · Shuiwang Ji

We consider the problem of generating 3D molecular geometries from scratch. While multiple methods have been developed for generating molecular graphs, generating 3D molecular geometries from scratch is largely under-explored. In this work, we propose G-SphereNet, a novel autoregressive flow model for generating 3D molecular geometries. G-SphereNet employs a flexible sequential generation scheme by placing atoms in 3D space step-by-step. Instead of generating 3D coordinates directly, we propose to determine 3D positions of atoms by generating distances, angles and torsion angles, thereby ensuring both invariance and equivariance properties. In addition, we propose to use spherical message passing and attention mechanism for conditional information extraction. Experimental results show that G-SphereNet outperforms previous methods on random molecular geometry generation and targeted molecule discovery tasks. Our code is publicly available as part of the DIG package (

Maximum n-times Coverage for Vaccine Design

Ge Liu · Alexander Dimitrakakis · Brandon Carter · David Gifford

We introduce the maximum $n$-times coverage problem that selects $k$ overlays to maximize the summed coverage of weighted elements, where each element must be covered at least $n$ times. We also define the min-cost $n$-times coverage problem where the objective is to select the minimum set of overlays such that the sum of the weights of elements that are covered at least $n$ times is at least $\tau$. Maximum $n$-times coverage is a generalization of the multi-set multi-cover problem, is NP-complete, and is not submodular. We introduce two new practical solutions for $n$-times coverage based on integer linear programming and sequential greedy optimization. We show that maximum $n$-times coverage is a natural way to frame peptide vaccine design, and find that it produces a pan-strain COVID-19 vaccine design that is superior to 29 other published designs in predicted population coverage and the expected number of peptides displayed by each individual's HLA molecules.

Recursive Disentanglement Network

Yixuan Chen · Yubin Shi · Dongsheng Li · Yujiang Wang · Mingzhi Dong · Yingying Zhao · Robert Dick · Qin Lv · Fan Yang · Li Shang

Disentangled feature representation is essential for data-efficient learning. The feature space of deep models is inherently compositional. Existing $\beta$-VAE-based methods, which only apply disentanglement regularization to the resulting embedding space of deep models, cannot effectively regularize such compositional feature space, resulting in unsatisfactory disentangled results. In this paper, we formulate the compositional disentanglement learning problem from an information-theoretic perspective and propose a recursive disentanglement network (RecurD) that propagates regulatory inductive bias recursively across the compositional feature space during disentangled representation learning. Experimental studies demonstrate that RecurD outperforms $\beta$-VAE and several of its state-of-the-art variants on disentangled representation learning and enables more data-efficient downstream machine learning tasks.

Bandit Learning with Joint Effect of Incentivized Sampling, Delayed Sampling Feedback, and Self-Reinforcing User Preferences

Tianchen Zhou · Jia Liu · Chaosheng Dong · Yi Sun

In this paper, we consider a new multi-armed bandit (MAB) framework motivated by three common complications in online recommender systems in practice: (i) the platform (learning agent) cannot sample an intended product directly and has to incentivize customers to select this product (e.g., promotions and coupons); (ii) customer feedbacks are often received later than their selection times; and (iii) customer preferences among products are influenced and reinforced by historical feedbacks. From the platform's perspective, the goal of the MAB framework is to maximize total reward without incurring excessive incentive costs. A major challenge of this MAB framework is that the loss of information caused by feedback delay complicates both user preference evolution and arm incentivizing decisions, both of which are already highly non-trivial even by themselves. Toward this end, we first propose a policy called ``UCB-Filtering-with-Delayed-Feedback'' (UCB-FDF) policy for this new MAB framework. In our analysis, we consider delayed feedbacks that can have either arm-independent or arm-dependent distributions. In both cases, we allow unbounded support for the random delays, i.e., the random delay can be infinite. We show that the delay impacts in both cases can still be upper bounded by an additive penalty on both the regret and total incentive costs. This further implies that logarithmic regret and incentive cost growth rates are achievable under this new MAB framework. Experimental results corroborate our theoretical analysis on both regret and incentive costs.

When Can We Learn General-Sum Markov Games with a Large Number of Players Sample-Efficiently?

Ziang Song · Song Mei · Yu Bai

Multi-agent reinforcement learning has made substantial empirical progresses in solving games with a large number of players. However, theoretically, the best known sample complexity for finding a Nash equilibrium in general-sum games scales exponentially in the number of players due to the size of the joint action space, and there is a matching exponential lower bound. This paper investigates what learning goals admit better sample complexities in the setting of $m$-player general-sum Markov games with $H$ steps, $S$ states, and $A_i$ actions per player. First, we design algorithms for learning an $\epsilon$-Coarse Correlated Equilibrium (CCE) in $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(H^5S\max_{i\le m} A_i / \epsilon^2)$ episodes, and an $\epsilon$-Correlated Equilibrium (CE) in $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(H^6S\max_{i\le m} A_i^2 / \epsilon^2)$ episodes. This is the first line of results for learning CCE and CE with sample complexities polynomial in $\max_{i\le m} A_i$. Our algorithm for learning CE integrates an adversarial bandit subroutine which minimizes a weighted swap regret, along with several novel designs in the outer loop. Second, we consider the important special case of Markov Potential Games, and design an algorithm that learns an $\epsilon$-approximate Nash equilibrium within $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(S\sum_{i\le m} A_i / \epsilon^3)$ episodes (when only highlighting the dependence on $S$, $A_i$, and $\epsilon$), which only depends linearly in $\sum_{i\le m} A_i$ and significantly improves over the existing efficient algorithm in the $\epsilon$ dependence. Overall, our results shed light on what equilibria or structural assumptions on the game may enable sample-efficient learning with many players.

Pareto Policy Pool for Model-based Offline Reinforcement Learning

Yijun Yang · Jing Jiang · Tianyi Zhou · Jie Ma · Yuhui Shi

Online reinforcement learning (RL) can suffer from poor exploration, sparse reward, insufficient data, and overhead caused by inefficient interactions between an immature policy and a complicated environment. Model-based offline RL instead trains an environment model using a dataset of pre-collected experiences so online RL methods can learn in an offline manner by solely interacting with the model. However, the uncertainty and accuracy of the environment model can drastically vary across different state-action pairs so the RL agent may achieve high model return but perform poorly in the true environment. Unlike previous works that need to carefully tune the trade-off between the model return and uncertainty in a single objective, we study a bi-objective formulation for model-based offline RL that aims at producing a pool of diverse policies on the Pareto front performing different levels of trade-offs, which provides the flexibility to select the best policy for each realistic environment from the pool. Our method, ''Pareto policy pool (P3)'', does not need to tune the trade-off weight but can produce policies allocated at different regions of the Pareto front. For this purpose, we develop an efficient algorithm that solves multiple bi-objective optimization problems with distinct constraints defined by reference vectors targeting diverse regions of the Pareto front. We theoretically prove that our algorithm can converge to the targeted regions. In order to obtain more Pareto optimal policies without linearly increasing the cost, we leverage the achieved policies as initialization to find more Pareto optimal policies in their neighborhoods. On the D4RL benchmark for offline RL, P3 substantially outperforms several recent baseline methods over multiple tasks, especially when the quality of pre-collected experiences is low.

VOS: Learning What You Don't Know by Virtual Outlier Synthesis

Xuefeng Du · Zhaoning Wang · Mu Cai · Yixuan Li

Out-of-distribution (OOD) detection has received much attention lately due to its importance in the safe deployment of neural networks. One of the key challenges is that models lack supervision signals from unknown data, and as a result, can produce overconfident predictions on OOD data. Previous approaches rely on real outlier datasets for model regularization, which can be costly and sometimes infeasible to obtain in practice. In this paper, we present VOS, a novel framework for OOD detection by adaptively synthesizing virtual outliers that can meaningfully regularize the model's decision boundary during training. Specifically, VOS samples virtual outliers from the low-likelihood region of the class-conditional distribution estimated in the feature space. Alongside, we introduce a novel unknown-aware training objective, which contrastively shapes the uncertainty space between the ID data and synthesized outlier data. VOS achieves competitive performance on both object detection and image classification models, reducing the FPR95 by up to 7.87% compared to the previous best method on object detectors. Code is available at

SURF: Semi-supervised Reward Learning with Data Augmentation for Feedback-efficient Preference-based Reinforcement Learning

Jongjin Park · Younggyo Seo · Jinwoo Shin · Honglak Lee · Pieter Abbeel · Kimin Lee

Preference-based reinforcement learning (RL) has shown potential for teaching agents to perform the target tasks without a costly, pre-defined reward function by learning the reward with a supervisor’s preference between the two agent behaviors. However, preference-based learning often requires a large amount of human feedback, making it difficult to apply this approach to various applications. This data-efficiency problem, on the other hand, has been typically addressed by using unlabeled samples or data augmentation techniques in the context of supervised learning. Motivated by the recent success of these approaches, we present SURF, a semi-supervised reward learning framework that utilizes a large amount of unlabeled samples with data augmentation. In order to leverage unlabeled samples for reward learning, we infer pseudo-labels of the unlabeled samples based on the confidence of the preference predictor. To further improve the label-efficiency of reward learning, we introduce a new data augmentation that temporally crops consecutive subsequences from the original behaviors. Our experiments demonstrate that our approach significantly improves the feedback-efficiency of the state-of-the-art preference-based method on a variety of locomotion and robotic manipulation tasks.

Open-World Semi-Supervised Learning

Kaidi Cao · Maria Brbic · Jure Leskovec

A fundamental limitation of applying semi-supervised learning in real-world settings is the assumption that unlabeled test data contains only classes previously encountered in the labeled training data. However, this assumption rarely holds for data in-the-wild, where instances belonging to novel classes may appear at testing time. Here, we introduce a novel open-world semi-supervised learning setting that formalizes the notion that novel classes may appear in the unlabeled test data. In this novel setting, the goal is to solve the class distribution mismatch problem between labeled and unlabeled data, where at the test time every input instance either needs to be classified into one of the existing classes or a new unseen class needs to be initialized and the instance assigned to it. To tackle this challenging problem, we propose ORCA, an end-to-end approach that assigns instances to previously seen classes or forms novel classes by grouping similar instances without assuming any prior knowledge. The key idea in ORCA is to utilize uncertainty adaptive margin to circumvent the bias towards seen classes caused by learning seen classes faster than the novel classes. In this way, ORCA gradually increases the discriminability of the model during the training and reduces the gap between intra-class variance of seen with respect to novel classes. Extensive experiments on image classification datasets and a single-cell dataset demonstrate that ORCA consistently outperforms alternative baselines, achieving 25% improvement on seen and 96% improvement on novel classes of the ImageNet dataset.

Why Propagate Alone? Parallel Use of Labels and Features on Graphs

Yangkun Wang · Jiarui Jin · Weinan Zhang · Yang Yongyi · Jiuhai Chen · Quan Gan · Yong Yu · Zheng Zhang · Zengfeng Huang · David Wipf

One of the challenges of graph-based semi-supervised learning over ordinary supervised learning for classification tasks lies in label utilization. The direct use of ground-truth labels in graphs for training purposes can result in a parametric model learning trivial degenerate solutions (e.g., an identity mapping from input to output). In addressing this issue, a label trick has recently been proposed in the literature and applied to a wide range of graph neural network (GNN) architectures, achieving state-of-the-art results on various datasets. The essential idea is to randomly split the observed labels on the graph and use a fraction of them as input to the model (along with original node features), and predict the remaining fraction. Despite its success in enabling GNNs to propagate features and labels simultaneously, this approach has never been analyzed from a theoretical perspective, nor fully explored across certain natural use cases. In this paper, we demonstrate that under suitable settings, this stochastic trick can be reduced to a more interpretable deterministic form, allowing us to better explain its behavior, including an emergent regularization effect, and motivate broader application scenarios. Our experimental results corroborate these analyses while also demonstrating improved node classification performance applying the label trick in new domains.

Neural Structured Prediction for Inductive Node Classification

Meng Qu · Huiyu Cai · Jian Tang

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

Dynamics-Aware Comparison of Learned Reward Functions

Blake W Wulfe · Logan Ellis · Jean Mercat · Rowan T McAllister · Adrien Gaidon

The ability to learn reward functions plays an important role in enabling the deployment of intelligent agents in the real world. However, $\textit{comparing}$ reward functions, for example as a means of evaluating reward learning methods, presents a challenge. Reward functions are typically compared by considering the behavior of optimized policies, but this approach conflates deficiencies in the reward function with those of the policy search algorithm used to optimize it. To address this challenge, Gleave et al. (2020) propose the Equivalent-Policy Invariant Comparison (EPIC) distance. EPIC avoids policy optimization, but in doing so requires computing reward values at transitions that may be impossible under the system dynamics. This is problematic for learned reward functions because it entails evaluating them outside of their training distribution, resulting in inaccurate reward values that we show can render EPIC ineffective at comparing rewards. To address this problem, we propose the Dynamics-Aware Reward Distance (DARD), a new reward pseudometric. DARD uses an approximate transition model of the environment to transform reward functions into a form that allows for comparisons that are invariant to reward shaping while only evaluating reward functions on transitions close to their training distribution. Experiments in simulated physical domains demonstrate that DARD enables reliable reward comparisons without policy optimization and is significantly more predictive than baseline methods of downstream policy performance when dealing with learned reward functions.

Learning Features with Parameter-Free Layers

Dongyoon Han · YoungJoon Yoo · Beomyoung Kim · Byeongho Heo

Trainable layers such as convolutional building blocks are the standard network design choices by learning parameters to capture the global context through successive spatial operations. When designing an efficient network, trainable layers such as the depthwise convolution is the source of efficiency in the number of parameters and FLOPs, but there was little improvement to the model speed in practice. This paper argues that simple built-in parameter-free operations can be a favorable alternative to the efficient trainable layers replacing spatial operations in a network architecture. We aim to break the stereotype of organizing the spatial operations of building blocks into trainable layers. Extensive experimental analyses based on layer-level studies with fully-trained models and neural architecture searches are provided to investigate whether parameter-free operations such as the max-pool are functional. The studies eventually give us a simple yet effective idea for redesigning network architectures, where the parameter-free operations are heavily used as the main building block without sacrificing the model accuracy as much. Experimental results on the ImageNet dataset demonstrate that the network architectures with parameter-free operations could enjoy the advantages of further efficiency in terms of model speed, the number of the parameters, and FLOPs. Code and ImageNet pretrained models are available at

PoNet: Pooling Network for Efficient Token Mixing in Long Sequences

Chao-Hong Tan · Qian Chen · Wen Wang · Qinglin Zhang · Siqi Zheng · Zhen-Hua Ling

Transformer-based models have achieved great success in various NLP, vision, and speech tasks. However, the core of Transformer, the self-attention mechanism, has a quadratic time and memory complexity with respect to the sequence length, which hinders applications of Transformer-based models to long sequences. Many approaches have been proposed to mitigate this problem, such as sparse attention mechanisms, low-rank matrix approximations and scalable kernels, and token mixing alternatives to self-attention. We propose a novel Pooling Network (PoNet) for token mixing in long sequences with linear complexity. We design multi-granularity pooling and pooling fusion to capture different levels of contextual information and combine their interactions with tokens. On the Long Range Arena benchmark, PoNet significantly outperforms Transformer and achieves competitive accuracy, while being only slightly slower than the fastest model, FNet, across all sequence lengths measured on GPUs. We also conduct systematic studies on the transfer learning capability of PoNet and observe that PoNet achieves 95.7 percent of the accuracy of BERT on the GLUE benchmark, outperforming FNet by 4.5 percent relative. Comprehensive ablation analysis demonstrates effectiveness of the designed multi-granularity pooling and pooling fusion for token mixing in long sequences and efficacy of the designed pre-training tasks for PoNet to learn transferable contextualized language representations.

On feature learning in neural networks with global convergence guarantees

Zhengdao Chen · Eric Vanden-Eijnden · Joan Bruna

We study the gradient flow optimization of over-parameterized neural networks (NNs) in a setup that allows feature learning while admitting non-asymptotic global convergence guarantees. First, we prove that for wide shallow NNs under the mean-field (MF) scaling and with a general class of activation functions, when the input dimension is at least the size of the training set, the training loss converges to zero at a linear rate under gradient flow. Building upon this analysis, we study a model of wide multi-layer NNs with random and untrained weights in earlier layers, and also prove a linear-rate convergence of the training loss to zero, regardless of the input dimension. We also show empirically that, unlike in the Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK) regime, our multi-layer model exhibits feature learning and can achieve better generalization performance than its NTK counterpart.

A Unified Wasserstein Distributional Robustness Framework for Adversarial Training

Anh Bui · Trung Le · Quan Tran · He Zhao · Dinh Phung

It is well-known that deep neural networks (DNNs) are susceptible to adversarial attacks, exposing a severe fragility of deep learning systems. As the result, adversarial training (AT) method, by incorporating adversarial examples during training, represents a natural and effective approach to strengthen the robustness of a DNN-based classifier. However, most AT-based methods, notably PGD-AT and TRADES, typically seek a pointwise adversary that generates the worst-case adversarial example by independently perturbing each data sample, as a way to ``probe'' the vulnerability of the classifier. Arguably, there are unexplored benefits in considering such adversarial effects from an entire distribution. To this end, this paper presents a unified framework that connects Wasserstein distributional robustness with current state-of-the-art AT methods. We introduce a new Wasserstein cost function and a new series of risk functions, with which we show that standard AT methods are special cases of their counterparts in our framework. This connection leads to an intuitive relaxation and generalization of existing AT methods and facilitates the development of a new family of distributional robustness AT-based algorithms. Extensive experiments show that our distributional robustness AT algorithms robustify further their standard AT counterparts in various settings.

A Theoretical Analysis on Feature Learning in Neural Networks: Emergence from Inputs and Advantage over Fixed Features

Zhenmei Shi · Junyi Wei · Yingyu Liang

An important characteristic of neural networks is their ability to learn representations of the input data with effective features for prediction, which is believed to be a key factor to their superior empirical performance. To better understand the source and benefit of feature learning in neural networks, we consider learning problems motivated by practical data, where the labels are determined by a set of class relevant patterns and the inputs are generated from these along with some background patterns. We prove that neural networks trained by gradient descent can succeed on these problems. The success relies on the emergence and improvement of effective features, which are learned among exponentially many candidates efficiently by exploiting the data (in particular, the structure of the input distribution). In contrast, no linear models on data-independent features of polynomial sizes can learn to as good errors. Furthermore, if the specific input structure is removed, then no polynomial algorithm in the Statistical Query model can learn even weakly. These results provide theoretical evidence showing that feature learning in neural networks depends strongly on the input structure and leads to the superior performance. Our preliminary experimental results on synthetic and real data also provide positive support.

Learning to Annotate Part Segmentation with Gradient Matching

Yu Yang · Xiaotian Cheng · Hakan Bilen · Xiangyang Ji

The success of state-of-the-art deep neural networks heavily relies on the presence of large-scale labelled datasets, which are extremely expensive and time-consuming to annotate. This paper focuses on tackling semi-supervised part segmentation tasks by generating high-quality images with a pre-trained GAN and labelling the generated images with an automatic annotator. In particular, we formulate the annotator learning as a learning-to-learn problem. Given a pre-trained GAN, the annotator learns to label object parts in a set of randomly generated images such that a part segmentation model trained on these synthetic images with their predicted labels obtains low segmentation error on a small validation set of manually labelled images. We further reduce this nested-loop optimization problem to a simple gradient matching problem and efficiently solve it with an iterative algorithm. We show that our method can learn annotators from a broad range of labelled images including real images, generated images, and even analytically rendered images. Our method is evaluated with semi-supervised part segmentation tasks and significantly outperforms other semi-supervised competitors when the amount of labelled examples is extremely limited.

Strength of Minibatch Noise in SGD

Liu Ziyin · Kangqiao Liu · Takashi Mori · Masahito Ueda

The noise in stochastic gradient descent (SGD), caused by minibatch sampling, is poorly understood despite its practical importance in deep learning. This work presents the first systematic study of the SGD noise and fluctuations close to a local minimum. We first analyze the SGD noise in linear regression in detail and then derive a general formula for approximating SGD noise in different types of minima. For application, our results (1) provide insight into the stability of training a neural network, (2) suggest that a large learning rate can help generalization by introducing an implicit regularization, (3) explain why the linear learning rate-batchsize scaling law fails at a large learning rate or at a small batchsize and (4) can provide an understanding of how discrete-time nature of SGD affects the recently discovered power-law phenomenon of SGD.

Optimal Representations for Covariate Shift

Yangjun Ruan · Yann Dubois · Chris Maddison

Machine learning systems often experience a distribution shift between training and testing. In this paper, we introduce a simple variational objective whose optima are exactly the set of all representations on which risk minimizers are guaranteed to be robust to any distribution shift that preserves the Bayes predictor, e.g., covariate shifts. Our objective has two components. First, a representation must remain discriminative for the task, i.e., some predictor must be able to simultaneously minimize the source and target risk. Second, the representation's marginal support needs to be the same across source and target. We make this practical by designing self-supervised objectives that only use unlabelled data and augmentations to train robust representations. Our objectives give insights into the robustness of CLIP, and further improve CLIP's representations to achieve SOTA results on DomainBed.

Discovering Invariant Rationales for Graph Neural Networks

Ying-Xin Wu · Xiang Wang · An Zhang · Xiangnan He · Tat-Seng Chua

Intrinsic interpretability of graph neural networks (GNNs) is to find a small subset of the input graph's features --- rationale --- which guides the model prediction. Unfortunately, the leading rationalization models often rely on data biases, especially shortcut features, to compose rationales and make predictions without probing the critical and causal patterns. Moreover, such data biases easily change outside the training distribution. As a result, these models suffer from a huge drop in interpretability and predictive performance on out-of-distribution data. In this work, we propose a new strategy of discovering invariant rationale (DIR) to construct intrinsically interpretable GNNs. It conducts interventions on the training distribution to create multiple interventional distributions. Then it approaches the causal rationales that are invariant across different distributions while filtering out the spurious patterns that are unstable. Experiments on both synthetic and real-world datasets validate the superiority of our DIR in terms of interpretability and generalization ability on graph classification over the leading baselines. Code and datasets are available at

Learning Pruning-Friendly Networks via Frank-Wolfe: One-Shot, Any-Sparsity, And No Retraining

Miao Lu · Xiaolong Luo · Tianlong Chen · Wuyang Chen · Dong Liu · Zhangyang Wang

We present a novel framework to train a large deep neural network (DNN) for only $\textit{once}$, which can then be pruned to $\textit{any sparsity ratio}$ to preserve competitive accuracy $\textit{without any re-training}$. Conventional methods often require (iterative) pruning followed by re-training, which not only incurs large overhead beyond the original DNN training but also can be sensitive to retraining hyperparameters. Our core idea is to re-cast the DNN training as an explicit $\textit{pruning-aware}$ process: that is formulated with an auxiliary $K$-sparse polytope constraint, to encourage network weights to lie in a convex hull spanned by $K$-sparse vectors, potentially resulting in more sparse weight matrices. We then leverage a stochastic Frank-Wolfe (SFW) algorithm to solve this new constrained optimization, which naturally leads to sparse weight updates each time. We further note an overlooked fact that existing DNN initializations were derived to enhance SGD training (e.g., avoid gradient explosion or collapse), but was unaligned with the challenges of training with SFW. We hence also present the first learning-based initialization scheme specifically for boosting SFW-based DNN training. Experiments on CIFAR-10 and Tiny-ImageNet datasets demonstrate that our new framework named $\textbf{SFW-pruning}$ consistently achieves the state-of-the-art performance on various benchmark DNNs over a wide range of pruning ratios. Moreover, SFW-pruning only needs to train once on the same model and dataset, for obtaining arbitrary ratios, while requiring neither iterative pruning nor retraining. All codes will be released to the public.

Knowledge Removal in Sampling-based Bayesian Inference

Shaopeng Fu · Fengxiang He · Dacheng Tao

The right to be forgotten has been legislated in many countries, but its enforcement in the AI industry would cause unbearable costs. When single data deletion requests come, companies may need to delete the whole models learned with massive resources. Existing works propose methods to remove knowledge learned from data for explicitly parameterized models, which however are not appliable to the sampling-based Bayesian inference, {\it i.e.}, Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC), as MCMC can only infer implicit distributions. In this paper, we propose the first machine unlearning algorithm for MCMC. We first convert the MCMC unlearning problem into an explicit optimization problem. Based on this problem conversion, an {\it MCMC influence function} is designed to provably characterize the learned knowledge from data, which then delivers the MCMC unlearning algorithm. Theoretical analysis shows that MCMC unlearning would not compromise the generalizability of the MCMC models. Experiments on Gaussian mixture models and Bayesian neural networks confirm the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm. The code is available at \url{}.

SDEdit: Guided Image Synthesis and Editing with Stochastic Differential Equations

Chenlin Meng · Yutong He · Yang Song · Jiaming Song · Jiajun Wu · Junyan Zhu · Stefano Ermon

Guided image synthesis enables everyday users to create and edit photo-realistic images with minimum effort. The key challenge is balancing faithfulness to the user inputs (e.g., hand-drawn colored strokes) and realism of the synthesized images. Existing GAN-based methods attempt to achieve such balance using either conditional GANs or GAN inversions, which are challenging and often require additional training data or loss functions for individual applications. To address these issues, we introduce a new image synthesis and editing method, Stochastic Differential Editing (SDEdit), based on a diffusion model generative prior, which synthesizes realistic images by iteratively denoising through a stochastic differential equation (SDE). Given an input image with user guide in a form of manipulating RGB pixels, SDEdit first adds noise to the input, then subsequently denoises the resulting image through the SDE prior to increase its realism. SDEdit does not require task-specific training or inversions and can naturally achieve the balance between realism and faithfulness. SDEdit outperforms state-of-the-art GAN-based methods by up to 98.09% on realism and 91.72% on overall satisfaction scores, according to a human perception study, on multiple tasks, including stroke-based image synthesis and editing as well as image compositing.

CoordX: Accelerating Implicit Neural Representation with a Split MLP Architecture

Ruofan Liang · Hongyi Sun · Nandita Vijaykumar

Implicit neural representations with multi-layer perceptrons (MLPs) have recently gained prominence for a wide variety of tasks such as novel view synthesis and 3D object representation and rendering. However, a significant challenge with these representations is that both training and inference with an MLP over a large number of input coordinates to learn and represent an image, video, or 3D object, require large amounts of computation and incur long processing times. In this work, we aim to accelerate inference and training of coordinate-based MLPs for implicit neural representations by proposing a new split MLP architecture, CoordX. With CoordX, the initial layers are split to learn each dimension of the input coordinates separately. The intermediate features are then fused by the last layers to generate the learned signal at the corresponding coordinate point. This significantly reduces the amount of computation required and leads to large speedups in training and inference, while achieving similar accuracy as the baseline MLP. This approach thus aims at first learning functions that are a decomposition of the original signal and then fusing them to generate the learned signal. Our proposed architecture can be generally used for many implicit neural representation tasks with no additional memory overheads. We demonstrate a speedup of up to 2.92x compared to the baseline model for image, video, and 3D shape representation and rendering tasks.

Fixed Neural Network Steganography: Train the images, not the network

Varsha Kishore · Xiangyu Chen · Yan Wang · Boyi Li · Kilian Weinberger

Recent attempts at image steganography make use of advances in deep learning to train an encoder-decoder network pair to hide and retrieve secret messages in images. These methods are able to hide large amounts of data, but they also incur high decoding error rates (around 20%). In this paper, we propose a novel algorithm for steganography that takes advantage of the fact that neural networks are sensitive to tiny perturbations. Our method, Fixed Neural Network Steganography (FNNS), yields significantly lower error rates when compared to prior state-of-the-art methods and achieves 0% error reliably for hiding up to 3 bits per pixel (bpp) of secret information in images. FNNS also successfully evades existing statistical steganalysis systems and can be modified to evade neural steganalysis systems as well. Recovering every bit correctly, up to 3 bpp, enables novel applications that requires encryption. We introduce one specific use case for facilitating anonymized and safe image sharing. Our code is available at

Inductive Relation Prediction Using Analogy Subgraph Embeddings

Jiarui Jin · Yangkun Wang · Kounianhua Du · Weinan Zhang · Zheng Zhang · David Wipf · Yong Yu · Quan Gan

Prevailing methods for relation prediction in heterogeneous graphs aim at learning latent representations (i.e., embeddings) of observed nodes and relations, and thus are limited to the transductive setting where the relation types must be known during training. Here, we propose ANalogy SubGraphEmbeddingLearning (GraphANGEL), a novel relation prediction framework that predicts relations5between each node pair based on the subgraphs containing the pair, as well as other (analogy) subgraphs with the same graph patterns. Each graph pattern explicitly represents a specific logical rule, which contributes to an inductive bias that facilitates generalization to unseen relations and leads to more explainable predictive models. Moreover, our method also removes the limited neighborhood constraint of graph neural networks. Our model consistently outperforms existing models on heterogeneous graph based recommendation as well as knowledge graph completion. We also empirically demonstrate our model’s capability in generalizing to new relations while producing explainable heat maps of attention scores across the discovered logic.

Accelerated Policy Learning with Parallel Differentiable Simulation

Jie Xu · Viktor Makoviychuk · Yashraj Narang · Fabio Ramos · Wojciech Matusik · Animesh Garg · Miles Macklin

Deep reinforcement learning can generate complex control policies, but requires large amounts of training data to work effectively. Recent work has attempted to address this issue by leveraging differentiable simulators. However, inherent problems such as local minima and exploding/vanishing numerical gradients prevent these methods from being generally applied to control tasks with complex contact-rich dynamics, such as humanoid locomotion in classical RL benchmarks. In this work we present a high-performance differentiable simulator and a new policy learning algorithm (SHAC) that can effectively leverage simulation gradients, even in the presence of non-smoothness. Our learning algorithm alleviates problems with local minima through a smooth critic function, avoids vanishing/exploding gradients through a truncated learning window, and allows many physical environments to be run in parallel. We evaluate our method on classical RL control tasks, and show substantial improvements in sample efficiency and wall-clock time over state-of-the-art RL and differentiable simulation-based algorithms. In addition, we demonstrate the scalability of our method by applying it to the challenging high-dimensional problem of muscle-actuated locomotion with a large action space, achieving a greater than $17\times$ reduction in training time over the best-performing established RL algorithm. More visual results are provided at:

Finding Biological Plausibility for Adversarially Robust Features via Metameric Tasks

Anne Harrington · Arturo Deza

Recent work suggests that feature constraints in the training datasets of deep neural networks (DNNs) drive robustness to adversarial noise (Ilyas et al., 2019). The representations learned by such adversarially robust networks have also been shown to be more human perceptually-aligned than non-robust networks via image manipulations (Santurkar et al., 2019, Engstrom et al., 2019). Despite appearing closer to human visual perception, it is unclear if the constraints in robust DNN representations match biological constraints found in human vision. Human vision seems to rely on texture-based/summary statistic representations in the periphery, which have been shown to explain phenomena such as crowding (Balas et al., 2009) and performance on visual search tasks (Rosenholtz et al., 2012). To understand how adversarially robust optimizations/representations compare to human vision, we performed a psychophysics experiment using a metamer task similar to Freeman \& Simoncelli, 2011, Wallis et al., 2016 and Deza et al., 2019 where we evaluated how well human observers could distinguish between images synthesized to match adversarially robust representations compared to non-robust representations and a texture synthesis model of peripheral vision (Texforms a la Long et al., 2018). We found that the discriminability of robust representation and texture model images decreased to near chance performance as stimuli were presented farther in the periphery. Moreover, performance on robust and texture-model images showed similar trends within participants, while performance on non-robust representations changed minimally across the visual field. These results together suggest that (1) adversarially robust representations capture peripheral computation better than non-robust representations and (2) robust representations capture peripheral computation similar to current state-of-the-art texture peripheral vision models. More broadly, our findings support the idea that localized texture summary statistic representations may drive human invariance to adversarial perturbations and that the incorporation of such representations in DNNs could give rise to useful properties like adversarial robustness.

Sparse Attention with Learning to Hash

Zhiqing Sun · Yiming Yang · Shinjae Yoo

Transformer has become ubiquitous in sequence modeling tasks. As a key component of Transformer, self-attention does not scale to long sequences due to its quadratic time and space complexity with respect to the sequence length. To tackle this problem, recent work developed dynamic attention sparsification techniques based on Approximate Nearest Neighbor (ANN) methods, where similar queries and keys are allocated to the same hash bucket with high probability. However, the effectiveness of those ANN methods relies on the assumption that queries and keys should lie in the same space, which is not well justified. Besides, some of the ANN methods such as Locality-Sensitive Hashing (LSH) are randomized and cannot fully utilize the available real data distributions. To overcome these issues, this paper proposes a new strategy for sparse attention, namely LHA (Learning-to-Hash Attention), which directly learns separate parameterized hash functions for queries and keys, respectively. Another advantage of LHA is that it does not impose extra constraints for queries and keys, which makes it applicable to the wide range of pre-trained Transformer models. Our experiments on evaluation of the WikiText-103 dataset for language modeling, the GLUE benchmark for natural language understanding, and the Lang-Range-Arena benchmark for multiple tasks (text/image classification, retrieval, etc.) show the superior performance of LHA over other strong Transformer variants.

Is Homophily a Necessity for Graph Neural Networks?

Yao Ma · Xiaorui Liu · Neil Shah · Jiliang Tang

Graph neural networks (GNNs) have shown great prowess in learning representations suitable for numerous graph-based machine learning tasks. When applied to semi-supervised node classification, GNNs are widely believed to work well due to the homophily assumption (``like attracts like''), and fail to generalize to heterophilous graphs where dissimilar nodes connect. Recent works design new architectures to overcome such heterophily-related limitations, citing poor baseline performance and new architecture improvements on a few heterophilous graph benchmark datasets as evidence for this notion. In our experiments, we empirically find that standard graph convolutional networks (GCNs) can actually achieve better performance than such carefully designed methods on some commonly used heterophilous graphs. This motivates us to reconsider whether homophily is truly necessary for good GNN performance. We find that this claim is not quite true, and in fact, GCNs can achieve strong performance on heterophilous graphs under certain conditions. Our work carefully characterizes these conditions and provides supporting theoretical understanding and empirical observations. Finally, we examine existing heterophilous graphs benchmarks and reconcile how the GCN (under)performs on them based on this understanding.

DKM: Differentiable k-Means Clustering Layer for Neural Network Compression

Minsik Cho · Keivan Alizadeh-Vahid · Saurabh Adya · Mohammad Rastegari

Deep neural network (DNN) model compression for efficient on-device inference is becoming increasingly important to reduce memory requirements and keep user data on-device. To this end, we propose a novel differentiable k-means clustering layer (DKM) and its application to train-time weight clustering-based DNN model compression. DKM casts k-means clustering as an attention problem and enables joint optimization of the DNN parameters and clustering centroids. Unlike prior works that rely on additional regularizers and parameters, DKM-based compression keeps the original loss function and model architecture fixed. We evaluated DKM-based compression on various DNN models for computer vision and natural language processing (NLP) tasks. Our results demonstrate that DKM delivers superior compression and accuracy trade-off on ImageNet1k and GLUE benchmarks. For example, DKM-based compression can offer 74.5% top-1 ImageNet1k accuracy on ResNet50 DNN model with 3.3MB model size (29.4x model compression factor). For MobileNet-v1, which is a challenging DNN to compress, DKM delivers 63.9% top-1 ImageNet1k accuracy with 0.72 MB model size (22.4x model compression factor). This result is 6.8% higher top-1accuracy and 33% relatively smaller model size than the current state-of-the-art DNN compression algorithms. Additionally, DKM enables compression of DistilBERT model by 11.8x with minimal (1.1%) accuracy loss on GLUE NLP benchmarks.

Creating Training Sets via Weak Indirect Supervision

Jieyu Zhang · Bohan Wang · Xiangchen Song · Yujing Wang · Yaming Yang · Jing Bai · Alex Ratner

Creating labeled training sets has become one of the major roadblocks in machine learning. To address this, recent Weak Supervision (WS) frameworks synthesize training labels from multiple potentially noisy supervision sources. However, existing frameworks are restricted to supervision sources that share the same output space as the target task. To extend the scope of usable sources, we formulate Weak Indirect Supervision (WIS), a new research problem for automatically synthesizing training labels based on indirect supervision sources that have different output label spaces. To overcome the challenge of mismatched output spaces, we develop a probabilistic modeling approach, PLRM, which uses user-provided label relations to model and leverage indirect supervision sources. Moreover, we provide a theoretically-principled test of the distinguishability of PLRM for unseen labels, along with an generalization bound. On both image and text classification tasks as well as an industrial advertising application, we demonstrate the advantages of PLRM by outperforming baselines by a margin of 2%-9%.

Improving Federated Learning Face Recognition via Privacy-Agnostic Clusters

Qiang Meng · Feng Zhou · Hainan Ren · Tianshu Feng · Guochao Liu · Yuanqing Lin

The growing public concerns on data privacy in face recognition can be partly relieved by the federated learning (FL) paradigm. However, conventional FL methods usually perform poorly due to the particularity of the task, \textit{i.e.}, broadcasting class centers among clients is essential for recognition performances but leads to privacy leakage. To resolve the privacy-utility paradox, this work proposes PrivacyFace, a framework largely improves the federated learning face recognition via communicating auxiliary and privacy-agnostic information among clients. PrivacyFace mainly consists of two components: First, a practical Differentially Private Local Clustering (DPLC) mechanism is proposed to distill sanitized clusters from local class centers. Second, a consensus-aware recognition loss subsequently encourages global consensuses among clients, which ergo leads to more discriminative features. The proposed schemes are mathematically proved to be differential private, introduce a lightweight overhead as well as yield prominent performance boosts (\textit{e.g.}, +9.63\% and +10.26\% for TAR@FAR=1e-4 on IJB-B and IJB-C respectively). Extensive experiments and ablation studies on a large-scale dataset have demonstrated the efficacy and practicability of our method.

Neural Deep Equilibrium Solvers

Shaojie Bai · Vladlen Koltun · Zico Kolter

A deep equilibrium (DEQ) model abandons traditional depth by solving for the fixed point of a single nonlinear layer $f_\theta$. This structure enables decoupling the internal structure of the layer (which controls representational capacity) from how the fixed point is actually computed (which impacts inference-time efficiency), which is usually via classic techniques such as Broyden's method or Anderson acceleration. In this paper, we show that one can exploit such decoupling and substantially enhance this fixed point computation using a custom neural solver. Specifically, our solver uses a parameterized network to both guess an initial value of the optimization and perform iterative updates, in a method that generalizes a learnable form of Anderson acceleration and can be trained end-to-end in an unsupervised manner. Such a solution is particularly well suited to the implicit model setting, because inference in these models requires repeatedly solving for a fixed point of the same nonlinear layer for different inputs, a task at which our network excels. Our experiments show that these neural equilibrium solvers are fast to train (only taking an extra 0.9-1.1% over the original DEQ's training time), require few additional parameters (1-3% of the original model size), yet lead to a $2\times$ speedup in DEQ network inference without any degradation in accuracy across numerous domains and tasks.

SimVLM: Simple Visual Language Model Pretraining with Weak Supervision

Zirui Wang · Jiahui Yu · Wei Yu · Zihang Dai · Yulia Tsvetkov · Yuan Cao

With recent progress in joint modeling of visual and textual representations, Vision-Language Pretraining (VLP) has achieved impressive performance on many multimodal downstream tasks. However, the requirement for expensive annotations including clean image captions and regional labels limits the scalability of existing approaches, and complicates the pretraining procedure with the introduction of multiple dataset-specific objectives. In this work, we relax these constraints and present a minimalist pretraining framework, named Simple Visual Language Model (SimVLM). Unlike prior work, SimVLM reduces the training complexity by exploiting large-scale weak supervision, and is trained end-to-end with a single prefix language modeling objective. Without utilizing extra data or task-specific customization, the resulting model significantly outperforms previous pretraining methods and achieves new state-of-the-art results on a wide range of discriminative and generative vision-language benchmarks, including VQA (+3.74% vqa-score), NLVR2 (+1.17% accuracy), SNLI-VE (+1.37% accuracy) and image captioning tasks (+10.1% average CIDEr score). Furthermore, we demonstrate that SimVLM acquires strong generalization and transfer ability, enabling zero-shot behavior including open-ended visual question answering and cross-modality transfer.

A Class of Short-term Recurrence Anderson Mixing Methods and Their Applications

Fuchao Wei · Chenglong Bao · Yang Liu

Anderson mixing (AM) is a powerful acceleration method for fixed-point iterations, but its computation requires storing many historical iterations. The extra memory footprint can be prohibitive when solving high-dimensional problems in a resource-limited machine. To reduce the memory overhead, we propose a novel class of short-term recurrence AM methods (ST-AM). The ST-AM methods only store two previous iterations with cheap corrections. We prove that the basic version of ST-AM is equivalent to the full-memory AM in strongly convex quadratic optimization, and with minor changes it has local linear convergence for solving general nonlinear fixed-point problems. We further analyze the convergence properties of the regularized ST-AM for nonconvex (stochastic) optimization. Finally, we apply ST-AM to several applications including solving root-finding problems and training neural networks. Experimental results show that ST-AM is competitive with the long-memory AM and outperforms many existing optimizers.

How Well Does Self-Supervised Pre-Training Perform with Streaming Data?

Dapeng Hu · Shipeng Yan · Qizhengqiu Lu · Lanqing HONG · Hailin Hu · Yifan Zhang · Zhenguo Li · Xinchao Wang · Jiashi Feng

Prior works on self-supervised pre-training focus on the joint training scenario, where massive unlabeled data are assumed to be given as input all at once, and only then is a learner trained. Unfortunately, such a problem setting is often impractical if not infeasible since many real-world tasks rely on sequential learning, e.g., data are decentralized or collected in a streaming fashion. In this paper, we conduct the first thorough and dedicated investigation on self-supervised pre-training with streaming data, aiming to shed light on the model behavior under this overlooked setup. Specifically, we pre-train over 500 models on four categories of pre-training streaming data from ImageNet and DomainNet and evaluate them on three types of downstream tasks and 12 different downstream datasets. Our studies show that, somehow beyond our expectation, with simple data replay or parameter regularization, sequential self-supervised pre-training turns out to be an efficient alternative for joint pre-training, as the performances of the former are mostly on par with those of the latter. Moreover, catastrophic forgetting, a common issue in sequential supervised learning, is much alleviated in sequential self-supervised learning (SSL), which is well justified through our comprehensive empirical analysis on representations and the sharpness of minima in the loss landscape. Our findings, therefore, suggest that, in practice, for SSL, the cumbersome joint training can be replaced mainly by sequential learning, which in turn enables a much broader spectrum of potential application scenarios.

The Rich Get Richer: Disparate Impact of Semi-Supervised Learning

Zhaowei Zhu · Tianyi Luo · Yang Liu

Semi-supervised learning (SSL) has demonstrated its potential to improve the model accuracy for a variety of learning tasks when the high-quality supervised data is severely limited. Although it is often established that the average accuracy for the entire population of data is improved, it is unclear how SSL fares with different sub-populations. Understanding the above question has substantial fairness implications when different sub-populations are defined by the demographic groups that we aim to treat fairly. In this paper, we reveal the disparate impacts of deploying SSL: the sub-population who has a higher baseline accuracy without using SSL (the "rich" one) tends to benefit more from SSL; while the sub-population who suffers from a low baseline accuracy (the "poor" one) might even observe a performance drop after adding the SSL module. We theoretically and empirically establish the above observation for a broad family of SSL algorithms, which either explicitly or implicitly use an auxiliary "pseudo-label". Experiments on a set of image and text classification tasks confirm our claims. We introduce a new metric, Benefit Ratio, and promote the evaluation of the fairness of SSL (Equalized Benefit Ratio). We further discuss how the disparate impact can be mitigated. We hope our paper will alarm the potential pitfall of using SSL and encourage a multifaceted evaluation of future SSL algorithms.

Towards General Function Approximation in Zero-Sum Markov Games

Baihe Huang · Jason Lee · Zhaoran Wang · Zhuoran Yang

This paper considers two-player zero-sum finite-horizon Markov games with simultaneous moves. The study focuses on the challenging settings where the valuefunction or the model is parameterized by general function classes. Provably efficientalgorithms for both decoupled and coordinated settings are developed. In the decoupled setting where the agent controls a single player and plays against an arbitrary opponent, we propose a new model-free algorithm. The sample complexity is governed by the Minimax Eluder dimension—a new dimension of the function class in Markov games. As a special case, this method improves the state-of-the-art algorithmby a $\sqrt{d}$ factor in the regret when the reward function and transition kernel are parameterized with d-dimensional linear features. In the coordinated setting where bothplayers are controlled by the agent, we propose a model-based algorithm and a model-free algorithm. In the model-based algorithm, we prove that sample complexity canbe bounded by a generalization of Witness rank to Markov games. The model-freealgorithm enjoys a $\sqrt{K}$-regret upper bound where $K$ is the number of episodes. Ouralgorithms are based on new techniques of alternate optimism

Back2Future: Leveraging Backfill Dynamics for Improving Real-time Predictions in Future

Harshavardhan Kamarthi · Alexander Rodríguez · B. Aditya Prakash

For real-time forecasting in domains like public health and macroeconomics, data collection is a non-trivial and demanding task. Often after being initially released, it undergoes several revisions later (maybe due to human or technical constraints) - as a result, it may take weeks until the data reaches a stable value. This so-called ‘backfill’ phenomenon and its effect on model performance have been barely addressed in the prior literature. In this paper, we introduce the multi-variate backfill problem using COVID-19 as the motivating example. We construct a detailed dataset composed of relevant signals over the past year of the pandemic. We then systematically characterize several patterns in backfill dynamics and leverage our observations for formulating a novel problem and neural framework, Back2Future, that aims to refines a given model's predictions in real-time. Our extensive experiments demonstrate that our method refines the performance of the diverse set of top models for COVID-19 forecasting and GDP growth forecasting. Specifically, we show that Back2Future refined top COVID-19 models by 6.65% to 11.24% and yield an 18% improvement over non-trivial baselines. In addition, we show that our model improves model evaluation too; hence policy-makers can better understand the true accuracy of forecasting models in real-time.

Should We Be Pre-training? An Argument for End-task Aware Training as an Alternative

Lucio Dery · Paul Michel · Ameet Talwalkar · Graham Neubig

In most settings of practical concern, machine learning practitioners know in advance what end-task they wish to boost with auxiliary tasks. However, widely used methods for leveraging auxiliary data like pre-training and its continued-pretraining variant are end-task agnostic: they rarely, if ever, exploit knowledge of the target task. We study replacing end-task agnostic continued training of pre-trained language models with end-task aware training of said models. We argue that for sufficiently important end-tasks, the benefits of leveraging auxiliary data in a task-aware fashion can justify forgoing the traditional approach of obtaining generic, end-task agnostic representations as with (continued) pre-training. On three different low-resource NLP tasks from two domains, we demonstrate that multi-tasking the end-task and auxiliary objectives results in significantly better downstream task performance than the widely-used task-agnostic continued pre-training paradigm of Gururangan et al. (2020).We next introduce an online meta-learning algorithm that learns a set of multi-task weights to better balance among our multiple auxiliary objectives, achieving further improvements on end-task performance and data efficiency.

How Does SimSiam Avoid Collapse Without Negative Samples? A Unified Understanding with Self-supervised Contrastive Learning

Chaoning Zhang · Kang Zhang · Chenshuang Zhang · Trung X. Pham · Chang Yoo · In Kweon

To avoid collapse in self-supervised learning (SSL), a contrastive loss is widely used but often requires a large number of negative samples. Without negative samples yet achieving competitive performance, a recent work~\citep{chen2021exploring} has attracted significant attention for providing a minimalist simple Siamese (SimSiam) method to avoid collapse. However, the reason for how it avoids collapse without negative samples remains not fully clear and our investigation starts by revisiting the explanatory claims in the original SimSiam. After refuting their claims, we introduce vector decomposition for analyzing the collapse based on the gradient analysis of the $l_2$-normalized representation vector. This yields a unified perspective on how negative samples and SimSiam alleviate collapse. Such a unified perspective comes timely for understanding the recent progress in SSL.

Disentanglement Analysis with Partial Information Decomposition

Seiya Tokui · Issei Sato

We propose a framework to analyze how multivariate representations disentangle ground-truth generative factors. A quantitative analysis of disentanglement has been based on metrics designed to compare how one variable explains each generative factor. Current metrics, however, may fail to detect entanglement that involves more than two variables, e.g., representations that duplicate and rotate generative factors in high dimensional spaces. In this work, we establish a framework to analyze information sharing in a multivariate representation with Partial Information Decomposition and propose a new disentanglement metric. This framework enables us to understand disentanglement in terms of uniqueness, redundancy, and synergy. We develop an experimental protocol to assess how increasingly entangled representations are evaluated with each metric and confirm that the proposed metric correctly responds to entanglement. Through experiments on variational autoencoders, we find that models with similar disentanglement scores have a variety of characteristics in entanglement, for each of which a distinct strategy may be required to obtain a disentangled representation.

Bi-linear Value Networks for Multi-goal Reinforcement Learning

Ge Yang · Zhang-Wei Hong · Pulkit Agrawal

Universal value functions are a core component of off-policy multi-goal reinforcement learning. The de-facto paradigm is to approximate Q(s, a, g) using monolithic neural networks which lack inductive biases to produce complex interactions between the state s and the goal g. In this work, we propose a bilinear decomposition that represents the Q-value via a low-rank approximation in the form of a dot product between two vector fields. The first vector field, f(s, a), captures the environment's local dynamics at the state s; whereas the second component, ϕ(s, g), captures the global relationship between the current state and the goal.We show that our bilinear decomposition scheme improves sample efficiency over the original monolithic value approximators, and transfer better to unseen goals. We demonstrate significant learning speed-up over a variety of tasks on a simulated robot arm, and the challenging task of dexterous manipulation with a Shadow hand.

Towards Understanding Generalization via Decomposing Excess Risk Dynamics

Jiaye Teng · Jianhao Ma · Yang Yuan

Generalization is one of the fundamental issues in machine learning. However, traditional techniques like uniform convergence may be unable to explain generalization under overparameterization \citep{nagarajan2019uniform}. As alternative approaches, techniques based on stability analyze the training dynamics and derive algorithm-dependent generalization bounds. Unfortunately, the stability-based bounds are still far from explaining the surprising generalization in deep learning since neural networks usually suffer from unsatisfactory stability. This paper proposes a novel decomposition framework to improve the stability-based bounds via a more fine-grained analysis of the signal and noise, inspired by the observation that neural networks converge relatively slowly when fitting noise (which indicates better stability). Concretely, we decompose the excess risk dynamics and apply the stability-based bound only on the noise component. The decomposition framework performs well in both linear regimes (overparameterized linear regression) and non-linear regimes (diagonal matrix recovery). Experiments on neural networks verify the utility of the decomposition framework.

Neural Stochastic Dual Dynamic Programming

Hanjun Dai · Yuan Xue · Zia Syed · Dale Schuurmans · Bo Dai

Stochastic dual dynamic programming (SDDP) is a state-of-the-art method for solving multi-stage stochastic optimization, widely used for modeling real-world process optimization tasks. Unfortunately, SDDP has a worst-case complexity that scales exponentially in the number of decision variables, which severely limits applicability to only low dimensional problems. To overcome this limitation, we extend SDDP by introducing a trainable neural model that learns to map problem instances to a piece-wise linear value function within intrinsic low-dimension space, which is architected specifically to interact with a base SDDP solver, so that can accelerate optimization performance on new instances. The proposed Neural Stochastic Dual Dynamic Programming ($$\nu$$-SDDP) continually self-improves by solving successive problems. An empirical investigation demonstrates that $$\nu$$-SDDP can significantly reduce problem solving cost without sacrificing solution quality over competitors such as SDDP and reinforcement learning algorithms, across a range of synthetic and real-world process optimization problems.