Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content


Poster Session 8


Chat is not available.

ARTEMIS: Attention-based Retrieval with Text-Explicit Matching and Implicit Similarity

Ginger Delmas · Rafael S Rezende · Gabriela Csurka · Diane Larlus

An intuitive way to search for images is to use queries composed of an example image and a complementary text. While the first provides rich and implicit context for the search, the latter explicitly calls for new traits, or specifies how some elements of the example image should be changed to retrieve the desired target image. Current approaches typically combine the features of each of the two elements of the query into a single representation, which can then be compared to the ones of the potential target images. Our work aims at shedding new light on the task by looking at it through the prism of two familiar and related frameworks: text-to-image and image-to-image retrieval. Taking inspiration from them, we exploit the specific relation of each query element with the targeted image and derive light-weight attention mechanisms which enable to mediate between the two complementary modalities. We validate our approach on several retrieval benchmarks, querying with images and their associated free-form text modifiers. Our method obtains state-of-the-art results without resorting to side information, multi-level features, heavy pre-training nor large architectures as in previous works.

Heteroscedastic Temporal Variational Autoencoder For Irregularly Sampled Time Series

Satya Narayan Shukla · Benjamin M Marlin

Irregularly sampled time series commonly occur in several domains where they present a significant challenge to standard deep learning models. In this paper, we propose a new deep learning framework for probabilistic interpolation of irregularly sampled time series that we call the Heteroscedastic Temporal Variational Autoencoder (HeTVAE). HeTVAE includes a novel input layer to encode information about input observation sparsity, a temporal VAE architecture to propagate uncertainty due to input sparsity, and a heteroscedastic output layer to enable variable uncertainty in the output interpolations. Our results show that the proposed architecture is better able to reflect variable uncertainty through time due to sparse and irregular sampling than a range of baseline and traditional models, as well as recently proposed deep latent variable models that use homoscedastic output layers.

A Comparison of Hamming Errors of Representative Variable Selection Methods

Tracy Ke · Longlin Wang

Lasso is a celebrated method for variable selection in linear models, but it faces challenges when the covariates are moderately or strongly correlated. This motivates alternative approaches such as using a non-convex penalty, adding a ridge regularization, or conducting a post-Lasso thresholding. In this paper, we compare Lasso with 5 other methods: Elastic net, SCAD, forward selection, thresholded Lasso, and forward backward selection. We measure their performances theoretically by the expected Hamming error, assuming that the regression coefficients are ${\it iid}$ drawn from a two-point mixture and that the Gram matrix is block-wise diagonal. By deriving the rates of convergence of Hamming errors and the phase diagrams, we obtain useful conclusions about the pros and cons of different methods.

Neural Methods for Logical Reasoning over Knowledge Graphs

Alfonso Amayuelas · Shuai Zhang · Xi Rao · Ce Zhang

Reasoning is a fundamental problem for computers and deeply studied in Artificial Intelligence. In this paper, we specifically focus on answering multi-hop logical queries on Knowledge Graphs (KGs). This is a complicated task because, in real world scenarios, the graphs tend to be large and incomplete. Most previous works have been unable to create models that accept full First-Order Logical (FOL) queries, which includes negative queries, and have only been able to process a limited set of query structures. Additionally, most methods present logic operators that can only perform the logical operation they are made for. We introduce a set of models that use Neural Networks to create one-point vector embeddings to answer the queries. The versatility of neural networks allows the framework to handle FOL queries with Conjunction, Disjunction and Negation operators. We demonstrate experimentally the performance of our models through extensive experimentation on well-known benchmarking datasets. Besides having more versatile operators, the models achieve a 10% relative increase over best performing state of the art and more than 30% over the original method based on single-point vector embeddings.

Auto-scaling Vision Transformers without Training

Wuyang Chen · Wei Huang · Xianzhi Du · Xiaodan Song · Zhangyang Wang · Dengyong Zhou

This work targets automated designing and scaling of Vision Transformers (ViTs). The motivation comes from two pain spots: 1) the lack of efficient and principled methods for designing and scaling ViTs; 2) the tremendous computational cost of training ViT that is much heavier than its convolution counterpart. To tackle these issues, we propose As-ViT, an auto-scaling framework for ViTs without training, which automatically discovers and scales up ViTs in an efficient and principled manner. Specifically, we first design a "seed" ViT topology by leveraging a training-free search process. This extremely fast search is fulfilled by a comprehensive study of ViT's network complexity, yielding a strong Kendall-tau correlation with ground-truth accuracies. Second, starting from the "seed" topology, we automate the scaling rule for ViTs by growing widths/depths to different ViT layers. This results in a series of architectures with different numbers of parameters in a single run. Finally, based on the observation that ViTs can tolerate coarse tokenization in early training stages, we propose a progressive tokenization strategy to train ViTs faster and cheaper. As a unified framework, As-ViT achieves strong performance on classification (83.5% top1 on ImageNet-1k) and detection (52.7% mAP on COCO) without any manual crafting nor scaling of ViT architectures: the end-to-end model design and scaling process costs only 12 hours on one V100 GPU. Our code is available at

Topologically Regularized Data Embeddings

Robin Vandaele · Bo Kang · Jefrey Lijffijt · Tijl De Bie · Yvan Saeys

Unsupervised feature learning often finds low-dimensional embeddings that capture the structure of complex data. For tasks for which prior expert topological knowledge is available, incorporating this into the learned representation may lead to higher quality embeddings. For example, this may help one to embed the data into a given number of clusters, or to accommodate for noise that prevents one from deriving the distribution of the data over the model directly, which can then be learned more effectively. However, a general tool for integrating different prior topological knowledge into embeddings is lacking. Although differentiable topology layers have been recently developed that can (re)shape embeddings into prespecified topological models, they have two important limitations for representation learning, which we address in this paper. First, the currently suggested topological losses fail to represent simple models such as clusters and flares in a natural manner. Second, these losses neglect all original structural (such as neighborhood) information in the data that is useful for learning. We overcome these limitations by introducing a new set of topological losses, and proposing their usage as a way for topologically regularizing data embeddings to naturally represent a prespecified model. We include thorough experiments on synthetic and real data that highlight the usefulness and versatility of this approach, with applications ranging from modeling high-dimensional single-cell data, to graph embedding.

Assessing Generalization of SGD via Disagreement

Yiding Jiang · Vaishnavh Nagarajan · Christina Baek · Zico Kolter

We empirically show that the test error of deep networks can be estimated by training the same architecture on the same training set but with two different runs of Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD), and then measuring the disagreement rate between the two networks on unlabeled test data. This builds on -- and is a stronger version of -- the observation in Nakkiran&Bansal 20, which requires the runs to be on separate training sets. We further theoretically show that this peculiar phenomenon arises from the well-calibrated nature of ensembles of SGD-trained models. This finding not only provides a simple empirical measure to directly predict the test error using unlabeled test data, but also establishes a new conceptual connection between generalization and calibration.

Variational autoencoders in the presence of low-dimensional data: landscape and implicit bias

Frederic Koehler · Viraj Mehta · Chenghui Zhou · Andrej Risteski

Variational Autoencoders (VAEs) are one of the most commonly used generative models, particularly for image data. A prominent difficulty in training VAEs is data that is supported on a lower dimensional manifold. Recent work by Dai and Wipf (2020) proposes a two-stage training algorithm for VAEs, based on a conjecture that in standard VAE training the generator will converge to a solution with 0 variance which is correctly supported on the ground truth manifold. They gave partial support for this conjecture by showing that some optima of the VAE loss do satisfy this property, but did not analyze the training dynamics. In this paper, we show that for linear encoders/decoders, the conjecture is true—that is the VAE training does recover a generator with support equal to the ground truth manifold—and does so due to an implicit bias of gradient descent rather than merely the VAE loss itself. In the nonlinear case, we show that VAE training frequently learns a higher-dimensional manifold which is a superset of the ground truth manifold.

Supervision Exists Everywhere: A Data Efficient Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training Paradigm

Yangguang Li · Feng Liang · Lichen Zhao · Yufeng Cui · Wanli Ouyang · Jing Shao · fengwei yu · Junjie Yan

Recently, large-scale Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training (CLIP) has attracted unprecedented attention for its impressive zero-shot recognition ability and excellent transferability to downstream tasks. However, CLIP is quite data-hungry and requires 400M image-text pairs for pre-training, thereby restricting its adoption. This work proposes a novel training paradigm, Data efficient CLIP (DeCLIP), to alleviate this limitation. We demonstrate that by carefully utilizing the widespread supervision among the image-text pairs, our De-CLIP can learn generic visual features more efficiently. Instead of using the single image-text contrastive supervision, we fully exploit data potential through the use of (1) self-supervision within each modality; (2) multi-view supervision across modalities; (3) nearest-neighbor supervision from other similar pairs. Benefiting from intrinsic supervision, our DeCLIP-ResNet50 can achieve 60.4% zero-shot top1 accuracy on ImageNet, which is 0.8% above the CLIP-ResNet50 while using 7.1×fewer data. Our DeCLIP-ResNet50 outperforms its counterpart in 8 out of 11 visual datasets when transferred to downstream tasks. Moreover, Scaling up the model and computing also works well in our framework.

Learning Fast Samplers for Diffusion Models by Differentiating Through Sample Quality

Daniel Watson · William Chan · Jonathan Ho · Mohammad Norouzi

Diffusion models have emerged as an expressive family of generative models rivaling GANs in sample quality and autoregressive models in likelihood scores. Standard diffusion models typically require hundreds of forward passes through the model to generate a single high-fidelity sample. We introduce Differentiable Diffusion Sampler Search (DDSS): a method that optimizes fast samplers for any pre-trained diffusion model by differentiating through sample quality scores. We also present Generalized Gaussian Diffusion Models (GGDM), a family of flexible non-Markovian samplers for diffusion models. We show that optimizing the degrees of freedom of GGDM samplers by maximizing sample quality scores via gradient descent leads to improved sample quality. Our optimization procedure backpropagates through the sampling process using the reparametrization trick and gradient rematerialization. DDSS achieves strong results on unconditional image generation across various datasets (e.g., FID scores on LSUN church 128x128 of 11.6 with only 10 inference steps, and 4.82 with 20 steps, compared to 51.1 and 14.9 with strongest DDPM/DDIM baselines). Our method is compatible with any pre-trained diffusion model without fine-tuning or re-training required.

Adversarial Unlearning of Backdoors via Implicit Hypergradient

Yi Zeng · Si Chen · Won Park · Zhuoqing Mao · Ming Jin · Ruoxi Jia

We propose a minimax formulation for removing backdoors from a given poisoned model based on a small set of clean data. This formulation encompasses much of prior work on backdoor removal. We propose the Implicit Backdoor Adversarial Unlearning (I-BAU) algorithm to solve the minimax. Unlike previous work, which breaks down the minimax into separate inner and outer problems, our algorithm utilizes the implicit hypergradient to account for the interdependence between inner and outer optimization. We theoretically analyze its convergence and the generalizability of the robustness gained by solving minimax on clean data to unseen test data. In our evaluation, we compare I-BAU with six state-of-art backdoor defenses on eleven backdoor attacks over two datasets and various attack settings, including the common setting where the attacker targets one class as well as important but underexplored settings where multiple classes are targeted. I-BAU's performance is comparable to and most often significantly better than the best baseline. Particularly, its performance is more robust to the variation on triggers, attack settings, poison ratio, and clean data size. Moreover, I-BAU requires less computation to take effect; particularly, it is more than $13\times$ faster than the most efficient baseline in the single-target attack setting. Furthermore, it can remain effective in the extreme case where the defender can only access 100 clean samples---a setting where all the baselines fail to produce acceptable results.

How Attentive are Graph Attention Networks?

Shaked Brody · Uri Alon · Eran Yahav

Graph Attention Networks (GATs) are one of the most popular GNN architectures and are considered as the state-of-the-art architecture for representation learning with graphs. In GAT, every node attends to its neighbors given its own representation as the query.However, in this paper we show that GAT computes a very limited kind of attention: the ranking of the attention scores is unconditioned on the query node. We formally define this restricted kind of attention as static attention and distinguish it from a strictly more expressive dynamic attention.Because GATs use a static attention mechanism, there are simple graph problems that GAT cannot express: in a controlled problem, we show that static attention hinders GAT from even fitting the training data. To remove this limitation, we introduce a simple fix by modifying the order of operations and propose GATv2: a dynamic graph attention variant that is strictly more expressive than GAT. We perform an extensive evaluation and show that GATv2 outperforms GAT across 12 OGB and other benchmarks while we match their parametric costs. Our code is available at . GATv2 is available as part of the PyTorch Geometric library, the Deep Graph Library, and the TensorFlow GNN library.

Linking Emergent and Natural Languages via Corpus Transfer

Shunyu Yao · Mo Yu · Yang Zhang · Karthik Narasimhan · Joshua B Tenenbaum · Chuang Gan

The study of language emergence aims to understand how human languages are shaped by perceptual grounding and communicative intent. Computational approaches to emergent communication (EC) predominantly consider referential games in limited domains and analyze the learned protocol within the game framework. As a result, it remains unclear how the emergent languages from these settings connect to natural languages or provide benefits in real-world language processing tasks, where statistical models trained on large text corpora dominate. In this work, we propose a novel way to establish such a link by corpus transfer, i.e. pretraining on a corpus of emergent language for downstream natural language tasks, which is in contrast to prior work that directly transfers speaker and listener parameters. Our approach showcases non-trivial transfer benefits for two different tasks – language modeling and image captioning. For example, in a low-resource setup (modeling 2 million natural language tokens), pre-training on an emergent language corpus with just 2 million tokens reduces model perplexity by 24.6% on average across ten natural languages. We also introduce a novel metric to predict the transferability of an emergent language by translating emergent messages to natural language captions grounded on the same images. We find that our translation-based metric highly correlates with the downstream performance on modeling natural languages (for instance $\rho = 0.83$ on Hebrew), while topographic similarity, a popular metric in previous works, shows surprisingly low correlation ($\rho = 0.003$), hinting that simple properties like attribute disentanglement from synthetic domains might not capture the full complexities of natural language. Our findings also indicate potential benefits of moving language emergence forward with natural language resources and models.

Multimeasurement Generative Models

Saeed Saremi · Rupesh K Srivastava

We formally map the problem of sampling from an unknown distribution with a density in $\mathbb{R}^d$ to the problem of learning and sampling a smoother density in $\mathbb{R}^{Md}$ obtained by convolution with a fixed factorial kernel: the new density is referred to as M-density and the kernel as multimeasurement noise model (MNM). The M-density in $\mathbb{R}^{Md}$ is smoother than the original density in $\mathbb{R}^d$, easier to learn and sample from, yet for large $M$ the two problems are mathematically equivalent since clean data can be estimated exactly given a multimeasurement noisy observation using the Bayes estimator. To formulate the problem, we derive the Bayes estimator for Poisson and Gaussian MNMs in closed form in terms of the unnormalized M-density. This leads to a simple least-squares objective for learning parametric energy and score functions. We present various parametrization schemes of interest including one in which studying Gaussian M-densities directly leads to multidenoising autoencoders—this is the first theoretical connection made between denoising autoencoders and empirical Bayes in the literature. Samples in $\mathbb{R}^d$ are obtained by walk-jump sampling (Saremi & Hyvarinen, 2019) via underdamped Langevin MCMC (walk) to sample from M-density and the multimeasurement Bayes estimation (jump). We study permutation invariant Gaussian M-densities on MNIST, CIFAR-10, and FFHQ-256 datasets, and demonstrate the effectiveness of this framework for realizing fast-mixing stable Markov chains in high dimensions.

Generative Planning for Temporally Coordinated Exploration in Reinforcement Learning

Haichao Zhang · Wei Xu · Haonan Yu

Standard model-free reinforcement learning algorithms optimize a policy that generates the action to be taken in the current time step in order to maximize expected future return. While flexible, it faces difficulties arising from the inefficient exploration due to its single step nature. In this work, we present Generative Planning method (GPM), which can generate actions not only for the current step, but also for a number of future steps (thus termed as generative planning). This brings several benefits to GPM. Firstly, since GPM is trained by maximizing value, the plans generated from it can be regarded as intentional action sequences for reaching high value regions. GPM can therefore leverage its generated multi-step plans for temporally coordinated exploration towards high value regions, which is potentially more effective than a sequence of actions generated by perturbing each action at single step level, whose consistent movement decays exponentially with the number of exploration steps. Secondly, starting from a crude initial plan generator, GPM can refine it to be adaptive to the task, which, in return, benefits future explorations. This is potentially more effective than commonly used action-repeat strategy, which is non-adaptive in its form of plans. Additionally, since the multi-step plan can be interpreted as the intent of the agent from now to a span of time period into the future, it offers a more informative and intuitive signal for interpretation. Experiments are conducted on several benchmark environments and the results demonstrated its effectiveness compared with several baseline methods.

Graph-Relational Domain Adaptation

Zihao Xu · Hao He · Guang-He Lee · Bernie Wang · Hao Wang

Existing domain adaptation methods tend to treat every domain equally and align them all perfectly. Such uniform alignment ignores topological structures among different domains; therefore it may be beneficial for nearby domains, but not necessarily for distant domains. In this work, we relax such uniform alignment by using a domain graph to encode domain adjacency, e.g., a graph of states in the US with each state as a domain and each edge indicating adjacency, thereby allowing domains to align flexibly based on the graph structure. We generalize the existing adversarial learning framework with a novel graph discriminator using encoding-conditioned graph embeddings. Theoretical analysis shows that at equilibrium, our method recovers classic domain adaptation when the graph is a clique, and achieves non-trivial alignment for other types of graphs. Empirical results show that our approach successfully generalizes uniform alignment, naturally incorporates domain information represented by graphs, and improves upon existing domain adaptation methods on both synthetic and real-world datasets.

Value Function Spaces: Skill-Centric State Abstractions for Long-Horizon Reasoning

Dhruv Shah · Peng Xu · Yao Lu · Ted Xiao · Alexander Toshev · Sergey Levine · brian ichter

Reinforcement learning can train policies that effectively perform complex tasks. However for long-horizon tasks, the performance of these methods degrades with horizon, often necessitating reasoning over and chaining lower-level skills. Hierarchical reinforcement learning aims to enable this by providing a bank of low-level skills as action abstractions. Hierarchies can further improve on this by abstracting the space states as well. We posit that a suitable state abstraction should depend on the capabilities of the available lower-level policies. We propose Value Function Spaces: a simple approach that produces such a representation by using the value functions corresponding to each lower-level skill. These value functions capture the affordances of the scene, thus forming a representation that compactly abstracts task relevant information and robustly ignores distractors. Empirical evaluations for maze-solving and robotic manipulation tasks demonstrate that our approach improves long-horizon performance and enables better zero-shot generalization than alternative model-free and model-based methods.

Memorizing Transformers

Yuhuai Wu · Markus Rabe · DeLesley Hutchins · Christian Szegedy

Language models typically need to be trained or finetuned in order to acquire new knowledge, which involves updating their weights. We instead envision language models that can simply read and memorize new data at inference time, thus acquiring new knowledge immediately. In this work, we extend language models with the ability to memorize the internal representations of past inputs. We demonstrate that an approximate $k$NN lookup into a non-differentiable memory of recent (key, value) pairs improves language modeling across various benchmarks and tasks, including generic webtext (C4), math papers (arXiv), books (PG-19), code (Github), as well as formal theorems (Isabelle). We show that the performance steadily improves when we increase the size of memory up to 262K tokens. On benchmarks including code and mathematics, we find that the model is capable of making use of newly defined functions and theorems during test time.

Pseudo Numerical Methods for Diffusion Models on Manifolds

Luping Liu · Yi Ren · Zhijie Lin · Zhou Zhao

Denoising Diffusion Probabilistic Models (DDPMs) can generate high-quality samples such as image and audio samples. However, DDPMs require hundreds to thousands of iterations to produce a sample. Several prior works have successfully accelerated DDPMs through adjusting the variance schedule (e.g., Improved Denoising Diffusion Probabilistic Models) or the denoising equation (e.g., Denoising Diffusion Implicit Models (DDIMs)). However, these acceleration methods cannot maintain the quality of samples and even introduce new noise at high speedup rate, which limit their practicability. To accelerate the inference process while keeping the sample quality, we provide a new perspective that DDPMs should be treated as solving differential equations on manifolds. Under such a perspective, we propose pseudo numerical methods for diffusion models (PNDMs). Specifically, we figure out how to solve differential equations on manifolds and show that DDIMs are simple cases of pseudo numerical methods. We change several classical numerical methods to corresponding pseudo numerical methods and find that pseudo linear multi-step method is the best method in most situations. According to our experiments, by directly using pre-trained models on Cifar10, CelebA and LSUN, PNDMs can generate higher quality synthetic images with only 50 steps compared with 1000-step DDIMs (20x speedup), significantly outperform DDIMs with 250 steps (by around 0.4 in FID) and have good generalization on different variance schedules.

Capturing Structural Locality in Non-parametric Language Models

Frank F Xu · Junxian He · Graham Neubig · Vincent Hellendoorn

Structural locality is a ubiquitous feature of real-world datasets, wherein data points are organized into local hierarchies. Some examples include topical clusters in text or project hierarchies in source code repositories. In this paper, we explore utilizing this structural locality within non-parametric language models, which generate sequences that reference retrieved examples from an external source. We propose a simple yet effective approach for adding locality information into such models by adding learned parameters that improve the likelihood of retrieving examples from local neighborhoods. Experiments on two different domains, Java source code and Wikipedia text, demonstrate that locality features improve model efficacy over models without access to these features, with interesting differences. We also perform an analysis of how and where locality features contribute to improving performance and why the traditionally used contextual similarity metrics alone are not enough to grasp the locality structure.

Learning Prototype-oriented Set Representations for Meta-Learning

Dandan Guo · Long Tian · Minghe Zhang · Mingyuan Zhou · Hongyuan Zha

Learning from set-structured data is a fundamental problem that has recently attracted increasing attention, where a series of summary networks are introduced to deal with the set input. In fact, many meta-learning problems can be treated as set-input tasks. Most existing summary networks aim to design different architectures for the input set in order to enforce permutation invariance. However, scant attention has been paid to the common cases where different sets in a meta distribution are closely related and share certain statistical properties. Viewing each set as a distribution over a set of global prototypes, this paper provides a novel prototype-oriented optimal transport (POT) framework to improve existing summary networks. To learn the distribution over the global prototypes, we minimize its regularized optimal transport distance to the set empirical distribution over data points, providing a natural unsupervised way to improve the summary network. Since our plug-and-play framework can be applied to many meta learning problems, we further instantiate it to the cases of few-shot classification and implicit meta generative modeling. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our framework significantly improves the existing summary networks on learning more powerful summary statistics from sets and can be successfully integrated into metric-based few-shot classification and generative modeling applications, providing a promising tool for addressing set-input and meta-learning problems.

Sample Efficient Deep Reinforcement Learning via Uncertainty Estimation

Vincent Mai · Kaustubh Mani · Liam Paull

In model-free deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms, using noisy value estimates to supervise policy evaluation and optimization is detrimental to the sample efficiency. As this noise is heteroscedastic, its effects can be mitigated using uncertainty-based weights in the optimization process. Previous methods rely on sampled ensembles, which do not capture all aspects of uncertainty. We provide a systematic analysis of the sources of uncertainty in the noisy supervision that occurs in RL, and introduce inverse-variance RL, a Bayesian framework which combines probabilistic ensembles and Batch Inverse Variance weighting. We propose a method whereby two complementary uncertainty estimation methods account for both the Q-value and the environment stochasticity to better mitigate the negative impacts of noisy supervision. Our results show significant improvement in terms of sample efficiency on discrete and continuous control tasks.

Implicit Bias of Projected Subgradient Method Gives Provable Robust Recovery of Subspaces of Unknown Codimension

Paris Giampouras · Benjamin Haeffele · Rene Vidal

Robust subspace recovery (RSR) is the problem of learning a subspace from sample data points corrupted by outliers. Dual Principal Component Pursuit (DPCP) is a robust subspace recovery method that aims to find a basis for the orthogonal complement of the subspace by minimizing the sum of the distances of the points to the subspaces subject to orthogonality constraints on the basis. Prior work has shown that DPCP can provably recover the correct subspace in the presence of outliers as long as the true dimension of the subspace is known. In this paper, we show that if the orthogonality constraints --adopted in previous DPCP formulations-- are relaxed and random initialization is used instead of spectral one, DPCP can provably recover a subspace of \emph{unknown dimension}. Specifically, we propose a very simple algorithm based on running multiple instances of a projected sub-gradient descent method (PSGM), with each problem instance seeking to find one vector in the null space of the subspace. We theoretically prove that under mild conditions this approach succeeds with high probability. In particular, we show that 1) all of the problem instances will converge to a vector in the nullspace of the subspace and 2) the ensemble of problem instance solutions will be sufficiently diverse to fully span the nullspace of the subspace thus also revealing its true unknown codimension. We provide empirical results that corroborate our theoretical results and showcase the remarkable implicit rank regularization behavior of the PSGM algorithm that allows us to perform RSR without knowing the subspace dimension

SphereFace2: Binary Classification is All You Need for Deep Face Recognition

Yandong Wen · Weiyang Liu · Adrian Weller · Bhiksha Raj · Rita Singh

State-of-the-art deep face recognition methods are mostly trained with a softmax-based multi-class classification framework. Despite being popular and effective, these methods still have a few shortcomings that limit empirical performance. In this paper, we start by identifying the discrepancy between training and evaluation in the existing multi-class classification framework and then discuss the potential limitations caused by the "competitive" nature of softmax normalization. Motivated by these limitations, we propose a novel binary classification training framework, termed SphereFace2. In contrast to existing methods, SphereFace2 circumvents the softmax normalization, as well as the corresponding closed-set assumption. This effectively bridges the gap between training and evaluation, enabling the representations to be improved individually by each binary classification task. Besides designing a specific well-performing loss function, we summarize a few general principles for this "one-vs-all" binary classification framework so that it can outperform current competitive methods. Our experiments on popular benchmarks demonstrate that SphereFace2 can consistently outperform state-of-the-art deep face recognition methods.

Label Leakage and Protection in Two-party Split Learning

Oscar Li · Jiankai Sun · Xin Yang · Weihao Gao · Hongyi Zhang · Junyuan Xie · Virginia Smith · Chong Wang

Two-party split learning is a popular technique for learning a model across feature-partitioned data. In this work, we explore whether it is possible for one party to steal the private label information from the other party during split training, and whether there are methods that can protect against such attacks. Specifically, we first formulate a realistic threat model and propose a privacy loss metric to quantify label leakage in split learning. We then show that there exist two simple yet effective methods within the threat model that can allow one party to accurately recover private ground-truth labels owned by the other party. To combat these attacks, we propose several random perturbation techniques, including $\texttt{Marvell}$, an approach that strategically finds the structure of the noise perturbation by minimizing the amount of label leakage (measured through our quantification metric) of a worst-case adversary. We empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of our protection techniques against the identified attacks, and show that $\texttt{Marvell}$ in particular has improved privacy-utility tradeoffs relative to baseline approaches.

Fortuitous Forgetting in Connectionist Networks

Hattie Zhou · Ankit Vani · Hugo Larochelle · Aaron Courville

Forgetting is often seen as an unwanted characteristic in both human and machine learning. However, we propose that forgetting can in fact be favorable to learning. We introduce forget-and-relearn as a powerful paradigm for shaping the learning trajectories of artificial neural networks. In this process, the forgetting step selectively removes undesirable information from the model, and the relearning step reinforces features that are consistently useful under different conditions. The forget-and-relearn framework unifies many existing iterative training algorithms in the image classification and language emergence literature, and allows us to understand the success of these algorithms in terms of the disproportionate forgetting of undesirable information. We leverage this understanding to improve upon existing algorithms by designing more targeted forgetting operations. Insights from our analysis provide a coherent view on the dynamics of iterative training in neural networks and offer a clear path towards performance improvements.

PAC-Bayes Information Bottleneck

Zifeng Wang · Shao-Lun Huang · Ercan Kuruoglu · Jimeng Sun · Xi Chen · Yefeng Zheng

Understanding the source of the superior generalization ability of NNs remains one of the most important problems in ML research. There have been a series of theoretical works trying to derive non-vacuous bounds for NNs. Recently, the compression of information stored in weights (IIW) is proved to play a key role in NNs generalization based on the PAC-Bayes theorem. However, no solution of IIW has ever been provided, which builds a barrier for further investigation of the IIW's property and its potential in practical deep learning. In this paper, we propose an algorithm for the efficient approximation of IIW. Then, we build an IIW-based information bottleneck on the trade-off between accuracy and information complexity of NNs, namely PIB. From PIB, we can empirically identify the fitting to compressing phase transition during NNs' training and the concrete connection between the IIW compression and the generalization. Besides, we verify that IIW is able to explain NNs in broad cases, e.g., varying batch sizes, over-parameterization, and noisy labels. Moreover, we propose an MCMC-based algorithm to sample from the optimal weight posterior characterized by PIB, which fulfills the potential of IIW in enhancing NNs in practice.

Bayesian Framework for Gradient Leakage

Mislav Balunovic · Dimitar I. Dimitrov · Robin Staab · Martin Vechev

Federated learning is an established method for training machine learning models without sharing training data. However, recent work has shown that it cannot guarantee data privacy as shared gradients can still leak sensitive information. To formalize the problem of gradient leakage, we propose a theoretical framework that enables, for the first time, analysis of the Bayes optimal adversary phrased as an optimization problem. We demonstrate that existing leakage attacks can be seen as approximations of this optimal adversary with different assumptions on the probability distributions of the input data and gradients. Our experiments confirm the effectiveness of the Bayes optimal adversary when it has knowledge of the underlying distribution. Further, our experimental evaluation shows that several existing heuristic defenses are not effective against stronger attacks, especially early in the training process. Thus, our findings indicate that the construction of more effective defenses and their evaluation remains an open problem.

Plant 'n' Seek: Can You Find the Winning Ticket?

Jonas Fischer · Rebekka Burkholz

The lottery ticket hypothesis has sparked the rapid development of pruning algorithms that aim to reduce the computational costs associated with deep learning during training and model deployment. Currently, such algorithms are primarily evaluated on imaging data, for which we lack ground truth information and thus the understanding of how sparse lottery tickets could be. To fill this gap, we develop a framework that allows us to plant and hide winning tickets with desirable properties in randomly initialized neural networks. To analyze the ability of state-of-the-art pruning to identify tickets of extreme sparsity, we design and hide such tickets solving four challenging tasks. In extensive experiments, we observe similar trends as in imaging studies, indicating that our framework can provide transferable insights into realistic problems. Additionally, we can now see beyond such relative trends and highlight limitations of current pruning methods. Based on our results, we conclude that the current limitations in ticket sparsity are likely of algorithmic rather than fundamental nature. We anticipate that comparisons to planted tickets will facilitate future developments of efficient pruning algorithms.

Large Learning Rate Tames Homogeneity: Convergence and Balancing Effect

Yuqing Wang · Minshuo Chen · Tuo Zhao · Molei Tao

Recent empirical advances show that training deep models with large learning rate often improves generalization performance. However, theoretical justifications on the benefits of large learning rate are highly limited, due to challenges in analysis. In this paper, we consider using Gradient Descent (GD) with a large learning rate on a homogeneous matrix factorization problem, i.e., $\min_{X, Y} \|A - XY^\top\|_{\sf F}^2$. We prove a convergence theory for constant large learning rates well beyond $2/L$, where $L$ is the largest eigenvalue of Hessian at the initialization. Moreover, we rigorously establish an implicit bias of GD induced by such a large learning rate, termed `balancing', meaning that magnitudes of $X$ and $Y$ at the limit of GD iterations will be close even if their initialization is significantly unbalanced. Numerical experiments are provided to support our theory.

Differentiable DAG Sampling

Bertrand Charpentier · Simon Kibler · Stephan Günnemann

We propose a new differentiable probabilistic model over DAGs (DP-DAG). DP-DAG allows fast and differentiable DAG sampling suited to continuous optimization. To this end, DP-DAG samples a DAG by successively (1) sampling a linear ordering of the node and (2) sampling edges consistent with the sampled linear ordering. We further propose VI-DP-DAG, a new method for DAG learning from observational data which combines DP-DAG with variational inference. Hence,VI-DP-DAG approximates the posterior probability over DAG edges given the observed data. VI-DP-DAG is guaranteed to output a valid DAG at any time during training and does not require any complex augmented Lagrangian optimization scheme in contrast to existing differentiable DAG learning approaches. In our extensive experiments, we compare VI-DP-DAG to other differentiable DAG learning baselines on synthetic and real datasets. VI-DP-DAG significantly improves DAG structure and causal mechanism learning while training faster than competitors.

Anomaly Transformer: Time Series Anomaly Detection with Association Discrepancy

Jiehui Xu · haixu wu · Jianmin Wang · Mingsheng Long

Unsupervised detection of anomaly points in time series is a challenging problem, which requires the model to derive a distinguishable criterion. Previous methods tackle the problem mainly through learning pointwise representation or pairwise association, however, neither is sufficient to reason about the intricate dynamics. Recently, Transformers have shown great power in unified modeling of pointwise representation and pairwise association, and we find that the self-attention weight distribution of each time point can embody rich association with the whole series. Our key observation is that due to the rarity of anomalies, it is extremely difficult to build nontrivial associations from abnormal points to the whole series, thereby, the anomalies' associations shall mainly concentrate on their adjacent time points. This adjacent-concentration bias implies an association-based criterion inherently distinguishable between normal and abnormal points, which we highlight through the Association Discrepancy. Technically, we propose the Anomaly Transformer with a new Anomaly-Attention mechanism to compute the association discrepancy. A minimax strategy is devised to amplify the normal-abnormal distinguishability of the association discrepancy. The Anomaly Transformer achieves state-of-the-art results on six unsupervised time series anomaly detection benchmarks of three applications: service monitoring, space & earth exploration, and water treatment.

Knowledge Infused Decoding

Ruibo Liu · Guoqing Zheng · Shashank Gupta · Radhika Gaonkar · CHONGYANG GAO · Soroush Vosoughi · Milad Shokouhi · Ahmed H Awadallah

Pre-trained language models (LMs) have been shown to memorize a substantial amount of knowledge from the pre-training corpora; however, they are still limited in recalling factually correct knowledge given a certain context. Hence. they tend to suffer from counterfactual or hallucinatory generation when used in knowledge-intensive natural language generation (NLG) tasks. Recent remedies to this problem focus on modifying either the pre-training or task fine-tuning objectives to incorporate knowledge, which normally require additional costly training or architecture modification of LMs for practical applications.We present Knowledge Infused Decoding (KID)---a novel decoding algorithm for generative LMs, which dynamically infuses external knowledge into each step of the LM decoding. Specifically, we maintain a local knowledge memory based on the current context, interacting with a dynamically created external knowledge trie, and continuously update the local memory as a knowledge-aware constraint to guide decoding via reinforcement learning. On six diverse knowledge-intensive NLG tasks, task-agnostic LMs (e.g., GPT-2 and BART) armed with KID outperform many task-optimized state-of-the-art models, and show particularly strong performance in few-shot scenarios over seven related knowledge-infusion techniques. Human evaluation confirms KID's ability to generate more relevant and factual language for the input context when compared with multiple baselines. Finally, KID also alleviates exposure bias and provides stable generation quality when generating longer sequences.

The Information Geometry of Unsupervised Reinforcement Learning

Benjamin Eysenbach · Ruslan Salakhutdinov · Sergey Levine

How can a reinforcement learning (RL) agent prepare to solve downstream tasks if those tasks are not known a priori? One approach is unsupervised skill discovery, a class of algorithms that learn a set of policies without access to a reward function. Such algorithms bear a close resemblance to representation learning algorithms (e.g., contrastive learning) in supervised learning, in that both are pretraining algorithms that maximize some approximation to a mutual information objective. While prior work has shown that the set of skills learned by such methods can accelerate downstream RL tasks, prior work offers little analysis into whether these skill learning algorithms are optimal, or even what notion of optimality would be appropriate to apply to them. In this work, we show that unsupervised skill discovery algorithms based on mutual information maximization do not learn skills that are optimal for every possible reward function. However, we show that the distribution over skills provides an optimal initialization minimizing regret against adversarially-chosen reward functions, assuming a certain type of adaptation procedure. Our analysis also provides a geometric perspective on these skill learning methods.

Learnability Lock: Authorized Learnability Control Through Adversarial Invertible Transformations

Weiqi Peng · Jinghui Chen

Owing much to the revolution of information technology, recent progress of deep learning benefits incredibly from the vastly enhanced access to data available in various digital formats. Yet those publicly accessible information also raises a fundamental issue concerning Intellectual Property, that is, how to precisely control legal or illegal exploitation of a dataset for training commercial models. To tackle this issue, this paper introduces and investigates a new concept called ''learnability lock'' for securing the process of data authorization. In particular, we propose adversarial invertible transformation, that can be viewed as a mapping from image to image, to encrypt data samples so that they become ''unlearnable'' by machine learning models with negligible loss of visual features. Meanwhile, authorized clients can use a specific key to unlock the learnability of the protected dataset and train models normally. The proposed learnability lock leverages class-wise perturbation that applies a universal transformation function on data samples of the same label. This ensures that the learnability can be easily restored with a simple inverse transformation while remaining difficult to be detected or reverse-engineered. We empirically demonstrate the success and practicability of our method on visual classification tasks.

CrossMatch: Cross-Classifier Consistency Regularization for Open-Set Single Domain Generalization

Ronghang Zhu · Sheng Li

Single domain generalization (SDG) is a challenging scenario of domain generalization, where only one source domain is available to train the model. Typical SDG methods are based on the adversarial data augmentation strategy, which complements the diversity of source domain to learn a robust model. Existing SDG methods require the source and target domains to have the same label space. However, as target domains may contain novel categories unseen in source label space, this assumption is not practical in many real-world applications. In this paper, we propose a challenging and untouched problem: \textit{Open-Set Single Domain Generalization} (OS-SDG), where target domains include unseen categories out of source label space. The goal of OS-SDG is to learn a model, with only one source domain, to classify a target sample with correct class if it belongs to source label space, or assign it to unknown classes. We design a \textit{CrossMatch} approach to improve the performance of SDG methods on identifying unknown classes by leveraging a multi-binary classifier. CrossMatch generates auxiliary samples out of source label space by using an adversarial data augmentation strategy. We also adopt a consistency regularization on generated auxiliary samples between multi-binary classifiers and the model trained by SDG methods, to improve the model’s capability on unknown class identification. Experimental results on benchmark datasets prove the effectiveness of CrossMatch on enhancing the performance of SDG methods in the OS-SDG setting.

Offline Reinforcement Learning with Value-based Episodic Memory

Xiaoteng Ma · Yiqin Yang · Hao Hu · Jun Yang · Chongjie Zhang · Qianchuan Zhao · Bin Liang · Qihan Liu

Offline reinforcement learning (RL) shows promise of applying RL to real-world problems by effectively utilizing previously collected data. Most existing offline RL algorithms use regularization or constraints to suppress extrapolation error for actions outside the dataset. In this paper, we adopt a different framework, which learns the V-function instead of the Q-function to naturally keep the learning procedure within the support of an offline dataset. To enable effective generalization while maintaining proper conservatism in offline learning, we propose Expectile V-Learning (EVL), which smoothly interpolates between the optimal value learning and behavior cloning. Further, we introduce implicit planning along offline trajectories to enhance learned V-values and accelerate convergence. Together, we present a new offline method called Value-based Episodic Memory (VEM). We provide theoretical analysis for the convergence properties of our proposed VEM method, and empirical results in the D4RL benchmark show that our method achieves superior performance in most tasks, particularly in sparse-reward tasks.

Towards Understanding the Robustness Against Evasion Attack on Categorical Data

Hongyan Bao · Yufei Han · Yujun Zhou · Yun Shen · Xiangliang Zhang

Characterizing and assessing the adversarial vulnerability of classification models with categorical input has been a practically important, while rarely explored research problem. Our work echoes the challenge by first unveiling the impact factors of adversarial vulnerability of classification models with categorical data based on an information-theoretic adversarial risk analysis about the targeted classifier. Though certifying the robustness of such classification models is intrinsically an NP-hard combinatorial problem, our study shows that the robustness certification can be solved via an efficient greedy exploration of the discrete attack space for any measurable classifiers with a mild smoothness constraint. Our proposed robustness certification framework is instantiated with deep neural network models applied on real-world safety-critic data sources. Our empirical observations confirm the impact of the key adversarial risk factors with categorical input.

Reward Uncertainty for Exploration in Preference-based Reinforcement Learning

Xinran Liang · Katherine Shu · Kimin Lee · Pieter Abbeel

Conveying complex objectives to reinforcement learning (RL) agents often requires meticulous reward engineering. Preference-based RL methods are able to learn a more flexible reward model based on human preferences by actively incorporating human feedback, i.e. teacher's preferences between two clips of behaviors. However, poor feedback-efficiency still remains as a problem in current preference-based RL algorithms, as tailored human feedback is very expensive. To handle this issue, previous methods have mainly focused on improving query selection and policy initialization. At the same time, recent exploration methods have proven to be a recipe for improving sample-efficiency in RL. We present an exploration method specifically for preference-based RL algorithms. Our main idea is to design an intrinsic reward by measuring the novelty based on learned reward. Specifically, we utilize disagreement across ensemble of learned reward models. Our intuition is that disagreement in learned reward model reflects uncertainty in tailored human feedback and could be useful for exploration. Our experiments show that reward uncertainty exploration improves both feedback- and sample-efficiency of preference-based RL algorithms on complex robot manipulation tasks from Meta-World benchmarks, compared with other existing exploration methods that measure the novelty of state visitation.

Cross-Domain Imitation Learning via Optimal Transport

Arnaud Fickinger · samuel cohen · Stuart Russell · Brandon Amos

Cross-domain imitation learning studies how to leverage expert demonstrations of one agent to train an imitation agent with a different embodiment or morphology. Comparing trajectories and stationary distributions between the expert and imitation agents is challenging because they live on different systems that may not even have the same dimensionality. We propose Gromov-Wasserstein Imitation Learning (GWIL), a method for cross-domain imitation that uses the Gromov-Wasserstein distance to align and compare states between the different spaces of the agents. Our theory formally characterizes the scenarios where GWIL preserves optimality, revealing its possibilities and limitations. We demonstrate the effectiveness of GWIL in non-trivial continuous control domains ranging from simple rigid transformation of the expert domain to arbitrary transformation of the state-action space.

Poisoning and Backdooring Contrastive Learning

Nicholas Carlini · Andreas Terzis

Multimodal contrastive learning methods like CLIP train on noisy and uncurated training datasets. This is cheaper than labeling datasets manually, and even improves out-of-distribution robustness. We show that this practice makes backdoor and poisoning attacks a significant threat. By poisoning just 0.01% of a dataset (e.g., just 300 images of the 3 million-example Conceptual Captions dataset), we can cause the model to misclassify test images by overlaying a small patch. Targeted poisoning attacks, whereby the model misclassifies a particular test input with an adversarially-desired label, are even easier requiring control of 0.0001% of the dataset (e.g., just three out of the 3 million images). Our attacks call into question whether training on noisy and uncurated Internet scrapes is desirable.

Space-Time Graph Neural Networks

Samar Hadou · Charilaos Kanatsoulis · Alejandro Ribeiro

We introduce space-time graph neural network (ST-GNN), a novel GNN architecture, tailored to jointly process the underlying space-time topology of time-varying network data. The cornerstone of our proposed architecture is the composition of time and graph convolutional filters followed by pointwise nonlinear activation functions. We introduce a generic definition of convolution operators that mimic the diffusion process of signals over its underlying support. On top of this definition, we propose space-time graph convolutions that are built upon a composition of time and graph shift operators. We prove that ST-GNNs with multivariate integral Lipschitz filters are stable to small perturbations in the underlying graphs as well as small perturbations in the time domain caused by time warping. Our analysis shows that small variations in the network topology and time evolution of a system does not significantly affect the performance of ST-GNNs. Numerical experiments with decentralized control systems showcase the effectiveness and stability of the proposed ST-GNNs.

On the Certified Robustness for Ensemble Models and Beyond

Zhuolin Yang · Linyi Li · Xiaojun Xu · Bhavya Kailkhura · Tao Xie · Bo Li

Recent studies show that deep neural networks (DNN) are vulnerable to adversarial examples, which aim to mislead DNNs by adding perturbations with small magnitude. To defend against such attacks, both empirical and theoretical defense approaches have been extensively studied for a single ML model. In this work, we aim to analyze and provide the certified robustness for ensemble ML models, together with the sufficient and necessary conditions of robustness for different ensemble protocols. Although ensemble models are shown more robust than a single model empirically; surprisingly, we find that in terms of the certified robustness the standard ensemble models only achieve marginal improvement compared to a single model. Thus, to explore the conditions that guarantee to provide certifiably robust ensemble ML models, we first prove that diversified gradient and large confidence margin are sufficient and necessary conditions for certifiably robust ensemble models under the model-smoothness assumption. We then provide the bounded model-smoothness analysis based on the proposed Ensemble-before-Smoothing strategy. We also prove that an ensemble model can always achieve higher certified robustness than a single base model under mild conditions. Inspired by the theoretical findings, we propose the lightweight Diversity Regularized Training (DRT) to train certifiably robust ensemble ML models. Extensive experiments show that our DRT enhanced ensembles can consistently achieve higher certified robustness than existing single and ensemble ML models, demonstrating the state-of-the-art certified $L_2$-robustness on MNIST, CIFAR-10, and ImageNet datasets.

Gaussian Mixture Convolution Networks

Adam Celarek · Pedro Hermosilla Casajus · Bernhard Kerbl · Timo Ropinski · Michael Wimmer

This paper proposes a novel method for deep learning based on the analytical convolution of multidimensional Gaussian mixtures.In contrast to tensors, these do not suffer from the curse of dimensionality and allow for a compact representation, as data is only stored where details exist.Convolution kernels and data are Gaussian mixtures with unconstrained weights, positions, and covariance matrices.Similar to discrete convolutional networks, each convolution step produces several feature channels, represented by independent Gaussian mixtures.Since traditional transfer functions like ReLUs do not produce Gaussian mixtures, we propose using a fitting of these functions instead.This fitting step also acts as a pooling layer if the number of Gaussian components is reduced appropriately.We demonstrate that networks based on this architecture reach competitive accuracy on Gaussian mixtures fitted to the MNIST and ModelNet data sets.

Discovering Nonlinear PDEs from Scarce Data with Physics-encoded Learning

Chengping Rao · Pu Ren · Yang Liu · Hao Sun

There have been growing interests in leveraging experimental measurements to discover the underlying partial differential equations (PDEs) that govern complex physical phenomena. Although past research attempts have achieved great success in data-driven PDE discovery, the robustness of the existing methods cannot be guaranteed when dealing with low-quality measurement data. To overcome this challenge, we propose a novel physics-encoded discrete learning framework for discovering spatiotemporal PDEs from scarce and noisy data. The general idea is to (1) firstly introduce a novel deep convolutional-recurrent networks, which can encode prior physics knowledge (e.g., known terms, assumed PDE structure, initial/boundary conditions, etc.) while remaining flexible on representation capability, to accurately reconstruct high-fidelity data, and (2) then perform sparse regression with the reconstructed data to identify the analytical form of the governing PDEs. We validate our proposed framework on three high-dimensional PDE systems. The effectiveness and superiority of the proposed method over baselines are demonstrated.

Provably Filtering Exogenous Distractors using Multistep Inverse Dynamics

Yonathan Efroni · Dipendra Kumar Misra · Akshay Krishnamurthy · Alekh Agarwal · John Langford

Many real-world applications of reinforcement learning (RL) require the agent to deal with high-dimensional observations such as those generated from a megapixel camera. Prior work has addressed such problems with representation learning, through which the agent can provably extract endogenous, latent state information from raw observations and subsequently plan efficiently. However, such approaches can fail in the presence of temporally correlated noise in the observations, a phenomenon that is common in practice. We initiate the formal study of latent state discovery in the presence of such exogenous noise sources by proposing a new model, the Exogenous Block MDP (EX-BMDP), for rich observation RL. We start by establishing several negative results, by highlighting failure cases of prior representation learning based approaches. Then, we introduce the Predictive Path Elimination (PPE) algorithm, that learns a generalization of inverse dynamics and is provably sample and computationally efficient in EX-BMDPs when the endogenous state dynamics are near deterministic. The sample complexity of PPE depends polynomially on the size of the latent endogenous state space while not directly depending on the size of the observation space, nor the exogenous state space. We provide experiments on challenging exploration problems which show that our approach works empirically.

CLEVA-Compass: A Continual Learning Evaluation Assessment Compass to Promote Research Transparency and Comparability

Martin Mundt · Steven Lang · Quentin Delfosse · Kristian Kersting

What is the state of the art in continual machine learning? Although a natural question for predominant static benchmarks, the notion to train systems in a lifelong manner entails a plethora of additional challenges with respect to set-up and evaluation. The latter have recently sparked a growing amount of critiques on prominent algorithm-centric perspectives and evaluation protocols being too narrow, resulting in several attempts at constructing guidelines in favor of specific desiderata or arguing against the validity of prevalent assumptions. In this work, we depart from this mindset and argue that the goal of a precise formulation of desiderata is an ill-posed one, as diverse applications may always warrant distinct scenarios. Instead, we introduce the Continual Learning EValuation Assessment Compass: the CLEVA-Compass. The compass provides the visual means to both identify how approaches are practically reported and how works can simultaneously be contextualized in the broader literature landscape. In addition to promoting compact specification in the spirit of recent replication trends, it thus provides an intuitive chart to understand the priorities of individual systems, where they resemble each other, and what elements are missing towards a fair comparison.

Phenomenology of Double Descent in Finite-Width Neural Networks

Sidak Pal Singh · Aurelien Lucchi · Thomas Hofmann · Bernhard Schoelkopf

`Double descent' delineates the generalization behaviour of models depending on the regime they belong to: under- or over-parameterized. The current theoretical understanding behind the occurrence of this phenomenon is primarily based on linear and kernel regression models --- with informal parallels to neural networks via the Neural Tangent Kernel. Therefore such analyses do not adequately capture the mechanisms behind double descent in finite-width neural networks, as well as, disregard crucial components --- such as the choice of the loss function. We address these shortcomings by leveraging influence functions in order to derive suitable expressions of the population loss and its lower bound, while imposing minimal assumptions on the form of the parametric model. Our derived bounds bear an intimate connection with the spectrum of the Hessian at the optimum, and importantly, exhibit a double descent behaviour at the interpolation threshold. Building on our analysis, we further investigate how the loss function affects double descent --- and thus uncover interesting properties of neural networks and their Hessian spectra near the interpolation threshold.

Transformer-based Transform Coding

Yinhao Zhu · Yang Yang · Taco Cohen

Neural data compression based on nonlinear transform coding has made great progress over the last few years, mainly due to improvements in prior models, quantization methods and nonlinear transforms. A general trend in many recent works pushing the limit of rate-distortion performance is to use ever more expensive prior models that can lead to prohibitively slow decoding. Instead, we focus on more expressive transforms that result in a better rate-distortion-computation trade-off. Specifically, we show that nonlinear transforms built on Swin-transformers can achieve better compression efficiency than transforms built on convolutional neural networks (ConvNets), while requiring fewer parameters and shorter decoding time. Paired with a compute-efficient Channel-wise Auto-Regressive Model prior, our SwinT-ChARM model outperforms VTM-12.1 by $3.68\%$ in BD-rate on Kodak with comparable decoding speed. In P-frame video compression setting, we are able to outperform the popular ConvNet-based scale-space-flow model by $12.35\%$ in BD-rate on UVG. We provide model scaling studies to verify the computational efficiency of the proposed solutions and conduct several analyses to reveal the source of coding gain of transformers over ConvNets, including better spatial decorrelation, flexible effective receptive field, and more localized response of latent pixels during progressive decoding.

Orchestrated Value Mapping for Reinforcement Learning

Mehdi Fatemi · Arash Tavakoli

We present a general convergent class of reinforcement learning algorithms that is founded on two distinct principles: (1) mapping value estimates to a different space using arbitrary functions from a broad class, and (2) linearly decomposing the reward signal into multiple channels. The first principle enables incorporating specific properties into the value estimator that can enhance learning. The second principle, on the other hand, allows for the value function to be represented as a composition of multiple utility functions. This can be leveraged for various purposes, e.g. dealing with highly varying reward scales, incorporating a priori knowledge about the sources of reward, and ensemble learning. Combining the two principles yields a general blueprint for instantiating convergent algorithms by orchestrating diverse mapping functions over multiple reward channels. This blueprint generalizes and subsumes algorithms such as Q-Learning, Log Q-Learning, and Q-Decomposition. In addition, our convergence proof for this general class relaxes certain required assumptions in some of these algorithms. Based on our theory, we discuss several interesting configurations as special cases. Finally, to illustrate the potential of the design space that our theory opens up, we instantiate a particular algorithm and evaluate its performance on the Atari suite.

Information Prioritization through Empowerment in Visual Model-based RL

Homanga Bharadhwaj · Mohammad Babaeizadeh · Dumitru Erhan · Sergey Levine

Model-based reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms designed for handling complex visual observations typically learn some sort of latent state representation, either explicitly or implicitly. Standard methods of this sort do not distinguish between functionally relevant aspects of the state and irrelevant distractors, instead aiming to represent all available information equally. We propose a modified objective for model-based RL that, in combination with mutual information maximization, allows us to learn representations and dynamics for visual model-based RL without reconstruction in a way that explicitly prioritizes functionally relevant factors. The key principle behind our design is to integrate a term inspired by variational empowerment into a state-space learning model based on mutual information. This term prioritizes information that is correlated with action, thus ensuring that functionally relevant factors are captured first. Furthermore, the same empowerment term also promotes faster exploration during the RL process, especially for sparse-reward tasks where the reward signal is insufficient to drive exploration in the early stages of learning. We evaluate the approach on a suite of vision-based robot control tasks with natural video backgrounds, and show that the proposed prioritized information objective outperforms state-of-the-art model based RL approaches by an average of 20\% in terms of episodic returns at 1M environment interactions with 30\% higher sample efficiency at 100k interactions.

GeneDisco: A Benchmark for Experimental Design in Drug Discovery

Arash Mehrjou · Ashkan Soleymani · Andrew Jesson · Pascal Notin · Yarin Gal · Stefan Bauer · Patrick Schwab

In vitro cellular experimentation with genetic interventions, using for example CRISPR technologies, is an essential step in early-stage drug discovery and target validation that serves to assess initial hypotheses about causal associations between biological mechanisms and disease pathologies. With billions of potential hypotheses to test, the experimental design space for in vitro genetic experiments is extremely vast, and the available experimental capacity - even at the largest research institutions in the world - pales in relation to the size of this biological hypothesis space. Machine learning methods, such as active and reinforcement learning, could aid in optimally exploring the vast biological space by integrating prior knowledge from various information sources as well as extrapolating to yet unexplored areas of the experimental design space based on available data. However, there exist no standardised benchmarks and data sets for this challenging task and little research has been conducted in this area to date. Here, we introduce GeneDisco, a benchmark suite for evaluating active learning algorithms for experimental design in drug discovery. GeneDisco contains a curated set of multiple publicly available experimental data sets as well as open-source implementations of state-of-the-art active learning policies for experimental design and exploration.

Constructing a Good Behavior Basis for Transfer using Generalized Policy Updates

Safa Alver · Doina Precup

We study the problem of learning a good set of policies, so that when combined together, they can solve a wide variety of unseen reinforcement learning tasks with no or very little new data. Specifically, we consider the framework of generalized policy evaluation and improvement, in which the rewards for all tasks of interest are assumed to be expressible as a linear combination of a fixed set of features. We show theoretically that, under certain assumptions, having access to a specific set of diverse policies, which we call a set of independent policies, can allow for instantaneously achieving high-level performance on all possible downstream tasks which are typically more complex than the ones on which the agent was trained. Based on this theoretical analysis, we propose a simple algorithm that iteratively constructs this set of policies. In addition to empirically validating our theoretical results, we compare our approach with recently proposed diverse policy set construction methods and show that, while others fail, our approach is able to build a behavior basis that enables instantaneous transfer to all possible downstream tasks. We also show empirically that having access to a set of independent policies can better bootstrap the learning process on downstream tasks where the new reward function cannot be described as a linear combination of the features. Finally, we demonstrate how this policy set can be useful in a lifelong reinforcement learning setting.

Better Supervisory Signals by Observing Learning Paths

YI REN · Shangmin Guo · Danica J Sutherland

Better-supervised models might have better performance. In this paper, we first clarify what makes for good supervision for a classification problem, and then explain two existing label refining methods, label smoothing and knowledge distillation, in terms of our proposed criterion. To further answer why and how better supervision emerges, we observe the learning path, i.e., the trajectory of the model's predictions during training, for each training sample. We find that the model can spontaneously refine "bad" labels through a "zig-zag" learning path, which occurs on both toy and real datasets. Observing the learning path not only provides a new perspective for understanding knowledge distillation, overfitting, and learning dynamics, but also reveals that the supervisory signal of a teacher network can be very unstable near the best points in training on real tasks. Inspired by this, we propose a new knowledge distillation scheme, Filter-KD, which improves downstream classification performance in various settings.

Exposing the Implicit Energy Networks behind Masked Language Models via Metropolis--Hastings

Kartik Goyal · Chris Dyer · Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick

While recent work has shown that scores from models trained by the ubiquitous masked language modeling (MLM) objective effectively discriminate probable from improbable sequences, it is still an open question if these MLMs specify a principled probability distribution over the space of possible sequences. In this paper, we interpret MLMs as energy-based sequence models and propose two energy parametrizations derivable from the trained MLMs. In order to draw samples correctly from these models, we develop a tractable sampling scheme based on the Metropolis--Hastings Monte Carlo algorithm. In our approach, samples are proposed from the same masked conditionals used for training the masked language models, and they are accepted or rejected based on their energy values according to the target distribution. We validate the effectiveness of the proposed parametrizations by exploring the quality of samples drawn from these energy-based models for both open-ended unconditional generation and a conditional generation task of machine translation. We theoretically and empirically justify our sampling algorithm by showing that the masked conditionals on their own do not yield a Markov chain whose stationary distribution is that of our target distribution, and our approach generates higher quality samples than other recently proposed undirected generation approaches (Wang et al., 2019, Ghazvininejad et al., 2019).

Learning Distributionally Robust Models at Scale via Composite Optimization

Farzin Haddadpour · Mohammad Mahdi Kamani · Mehrdad Mahdavi · Amin Karbasi

To train machine learning models that are robust to distribution shifts in the data, distributionally robust optimization (DRO) has been proven very effective. However, the existing approaches to learning a distributionally robust model either require solving complex optimization problems such as semidefinite programming or a first-order method whose convergence scales linearly with the number of data samples-- which hinders their scalability to large datasets. In this paper, we show how different variants of DRO are simply instances of a finite-sum composite optimization for which we provide scalable methods. We also provide empirical results that demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed algorithm with respect to the prior art in order to learn robust models from very large datasets.

No One Representation to Rule Them All: Overlapping Features of Training Methods

Raphael Gontijo Lopes · Yann Dauphin · Ekin Cubuk

Despite being able to capture a range of features of the data, high accuracy models trained with supervision tend to make similar predictions. This seemingly implies that high-performing models share similar biases regardless of training methodology, which would limit ensembling benefits and render low-accuracy models as having little practical use. Against this backdrop, recent work has developed quite different training techniques, such as large-scale contrastive learning, yielding competitively high accuracy on generalization and robustness benchmarks. This motivates us to revisit the assumption that models necessarily learn similar functions. We conduct a large-scale empirical study of models across hyper-parameters, architectures, frameworks, and datasets. We find that model pairs that diverge more in training methodology display categorically different generalization behavior, producing increasingly uncorrelated errors. We show these models specialize in subdomains of the data, leading to higher ensemble performance: with just 2 models (each with ImageNet accuracy \~76.5\%), we can create ensembles with 83.4\% (+7\% boost). Surprisingly, we find that even significantly low-accuracy models can be used to improve high-accuracy models. Finally, we show diverging training methodology yield representations that capture overlapping (but not supersetting) feature sets which, when combined, lead to increased downstream performance.

Value Gradient weighted Model-Based Reinforcement Learning

Claas Voelcker · Victor Liao · Animesh Garg · Amir-massoud Farahmand

Model-based reinforcement learning (MBRL) is a sample efficient technique to obtain control policies, yet unavoidable modeling errors often lead performance deterioration. The model in MBRL is often solely fitted to reconstruct dynamics, state observations in particular, while the impact of model error on the policy is not captured by the training objective. This leads to a mismatch between the intended goal of MBRL, enabling good policy and value learning, and the target of the loss function employed in practice, future state prediction. Naive intuition would suggest that value-aware model learning would fix this problem and, indeed, several solutions to this objective mismatch problem have been proposed based on theoretical analysis. However, they tend to be inferior in practice to commonly used maximum likelihood (MLE) based approaches. In this paper we propose the Value-gradient weighted Model Learning (VaGraM), a novel method for value-aware model learning which improves the performance of MBRL in challenging settings, such as small model capacity and the presence of distracting state dimensions. We analyze both MLE and value-aware approaches and demonstrate how they fail to account for exploration and the behavior of function approximation when learning value-aware models and highlight the additional goals that must be met to stabilize optimization in the deep learning setting. We verify our analysis by showing that our loss function is able to achieve high returns on the Mujoco benchmark suite while being more robust than maximum likelihood based approaches.

Data Poisoning Won’t Save You From Facial Recognition

Evani Radiya-Dixit · Sanghyun Hong · Nicholas Carlini · Florian Tramer

Data poisoning has been proposed as a compelling defense against facial recognition models trained on Web-scraped pictures. Users can perturb images they post online, so that models will misclassify future (unperturbed) pictures. We demonstrate that this strategy provides a false sense of security, as it ignores an inherent asymmetry between the parties: users' pictures are perturbed once and for all before being published (at which point they are scraped) and must thereafter fool all future models---including models trained adaptively against the users' past attacks, or models that use new technologies discovered after the attack. We evaluate two systems for poisoning attacks against large-scale facial recognition, Fawkes (500,000+ downloads) and LowKey. We demonstrate how an "oblivious" model trainer can simply wait for future developments in computer vision to nullify the protection of pictures collected in the past. We further show that an adversary with black-box access to the attack can (i) train a robust model that resists the perturbations of collected pictures and (ii) detect poisoned pictures uploaded online. We caution that facial recognition poisoning will not admit an "arms race" between attackers and defenders. Once perturbed pictures are scraped, the attack cannot be changed so any future successful defense irrevocably undermines users' privacy.

Amortized Tree Generation for Bottom-up Synthesis Planning and Synthesizable Molecular Design

Wenhao Gao · Rocío Mercado · Connor Coley

Molecular design and synthesis planning are two critical steps in the process of molecular discovery that we propose to formulate as a single shared task of conditional synthetic pathway generation. We report an amortized approach to generate synthetic pathways as a Markov decision process conditioned on a target molecular embedding. This approach allows us to conduct synthesis planning in a bottom-up manner and design synthesizable molecules by decoding from optimized conditional codes, demonstrating the potential to solve both problems of design and synthesis simultaneously. The approach leverages neural networks to probabilistically model the synthetic trees, one reaction step at a time, according to reactivity rules encoded in a discrete action space of reaction templates. We train these networks on hundreds of thousands of artificial pathways generated from a pool of purchasable compounds and a list of expert-curated templates. We validate our method with (a) the recovery of molecules using conditional generation, (b) the identification of synthesizable structural analogs, and (c) the optimization of molecular structures given oracle functions relevant to bioactivity and drug discovery.

Task-Induced Representation Learning

Jun Yamada · Karl Pertsch · Anisha Gunjal · Joseph Lim

In this work, we evaluate the effectiveness of representation learning approaches for decision making in visually complex environments. Representation learning is essential for effective reinforcement learning (RL) from high-dimensional in- puts. Unsupervised representation learning approaches based on reconstruction, prediction or contrastive learning have shown substantial learning efficiency gains. Yet, they have mostly been evaluated in clean laboratory or simulated settings. In contrast, real environments are visually complex and contain substantial amounts of clutter and distractors. Unsupervised representations will learn to model such distractors, potentially impairing the agent’s learning efficiency. In contrast, an alternative class of approaches, which we call task-induced representation learning, leverages task information such as rewards or demonstrations from prior tasks to focus on task-relevant parts of the scene and ignore distractors. We investi- gate the effectiveness of unsupervised and task-induced representation learning approaches on four visually complex environments, from Distracting DMControl to the CARLA driving simulator. For both, RL and imitation learning, we find that representation learning generally improves sample efficiency on unseen tasks even in visually complex scenes and that task-induced representations can double learning efficiency compared to unsupervised alternatives.

HyperDQN: A Randomized Exploration Method for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Ziniu Li · Yingru Li · Yushun Zhang · Tong Zhang · Zhi-Quan Luo

Randomized least-square value iteration (RLSVI) is a provably efficient exploration method. However, it is limited to the case where (1) a good feature is known in advance and (2) this feature is fixed during the training. If otherwise, RLSVI suffers an unbearable computational burden to obtain the posterior samples. In this work, we present a practical algorithm named HyperDQN to address the above issues under deep RL. In addition to a non-linear neural network (i.e., base model) that predicts Q-values, our method employs a probabilistic hypermodel (i.e., meta model), which outputs the parameter of the base model. When both models are jointly optimized under a specifically designed objective, three purposes can be achieved. First, the hypermodel can generate approximate posterior samples regarding the parameter of the Q-value function. As a result, diverse Q-value functions are sampled to select exploratory action sequences. This retains the punchline of RLSVI for efficient exploration. Second, a good feature is learned to approximate Q-value functions. This addresses limitation (1). Third, the posterior samples of the Q-value function can be obtained in a more efficient way than the existing methods, and the changing feature does not affect the efficiency. This deals with limitation (2). On the Atari suite, HyperDQN with 20M frames outperforms DQN with 200M frames in terms of the maximum human-normalized score. For SuperMarioBros, HyperDQN outperforms several exploration bonus and randomized exploration methods on 5 out of 9 games.

Understanding and Leveraging Overparameterization in Recursive Value Estimation

Chenjun Xiao · Bo Dai · Jincheng Mei · Oscar Ramirez · Ramki Gummadi · Chris Harris · Dale Schuurmans

The theory of function approximation in reinforcement learning (RL) typically considers low capacity representations that incur a tradeoff between approximation error, stability and generalization. Current deep architectures, however, operate in an overparameterized regime where approximation error is not necessarily a bottleneck. To better understand the utility of deep models in RL we present an analysis of recursive value estimation using \emph{overparameterized} linear representations that provides useful, transferable findings. First, we show that classical updates such as temporal difference (TD) learning or fitted-value-iteration (FVI) converge to \emph{different} fixed points than residual minimization (RM) in the overparameterized linear case. We then develop a unified interpretation of overparameterized linear value estimation as minimizing the Euclidean norm of the weights subject to alternative constraints. A practical consequence is that RM can be modified by a simple alteration of the backup targets to obtain the same fixed points as FVI and TD (when they converge), while universally ensuring stability. Further, we provide an analysis of the generalization error of these methods, demonstrating per iterate bounds on the value prediction error of FVI, and fixed point bounds for TD and RM. Given this understanding, we then develop new algorithmic tools for improving recursive value estimation with deep models. In particular, we extract two regularizers that penalize out-of-span top-layer weights and co-linearity in top-layer features respectively. Empirically we find that these regularizers dramatically improve the stability of TD and FVI, while allowing RM to match and even sometimes surpass their generalization performance with assured stability.

Fast Regression for Structured Inputs

Raphael Meyer · Cameron Musco · Christopher Musco · David Woodruff · Samson Zhou

We study the $\ell_p$ regression problem, which requires finding $\mathbf{x}\in\mathbb R^{d}$ that minimizes $\|\mathbf{A}\mathbf{x}-\mathbf{b}\|_p$ for a matrix $\mathbf{A}\in\mathbb R^{n \times d}$ and response vector $\mathbf{b}\in\mathbb R^{n}$. There has been recent interest in developing subsampling methods for this problem that can outperform standard techniques when $n$ is very large. However, all known subsampling approaches have run time that depends exponentially on $p$, typically, $d^{\mathcal{O}(p)}$, which can be prohibitively expensive. We improve on this work by showing that for a large class of common \emph{structured matrices}, such as combinations of low-rank matrices, sparse matrices, and Vandermonde matrices, there are subsampling based methods for $\ell_p$ regression that depend polynomially on $p$. For example, we give an algorithm for $\ell_p$ regression on Vandermonde matrices that runs in time $\mathcal{O}(n\log^3 n+(dp^2)^{0.5+\omega}\cdot\text{polylog}\,n)$, where $\omega$ is the exponent of matrix multiplication. The polynomial dependence on $p$ crucially allows our algorithms to extend naturally to efficient algorithms for $\ell_\infty$ regression, via approximation of $\ell_\infty$ by $\ell_{\mathcal{O}(\log n)}$. Of practical interest, we also develop a new subsampling algorithm for $\ell_p$ regression for arbitrary matrices, which is simpler than previous approaches for $p \ge 4$.

Practical Conditional Neural Process Via Tractable Dependent Predictions

Stratis Markou · James Requeima · Wessel Bruinsma · Anna Vaughan · Richard E Turner

Conditional Neural Processes (CNPs; Garnelo et al., 2018a) are meta-learning models which leverage the flexibility of deep learning to produce well-calibrated predictions and naturally handle off-the-grid and missing data. CNPs scale to large datasets and train with ease. Due to these features, CNPs appear well-suited to tasks from environmental sciences or healthcare. Unfortunately, CNPs do not produce correlated predictions, making them fundamentally inappropriate for many estimation and decision making tasks. Predicting heat waves or floods, for example, requires modelling dependencies in temperature or precipitation over time and space. Existing approaches which model output dependencies, such as Neural Processes (NPs; Garnelo et al., 2018b) or the FullConvGNP (Bruinsma et al., 2021), are either complicated to train or prohibitively expensive. What is needed is an approach which provides dependent predictions, but is simple to train and computationally tractable. In this work, we present a new class of Neural Process models that make correlated predictions and support exact maximum likelihood training that is simple and scalable. We extend the proposed models by using invertible output transformations, to capture non-Gaussian output distributions. Our models can be used in downstream estimation tasks which require dependent function samples. By accounting for output dependencies, our models show improved predictive performance on a range of experiments with synthetic and real data.

On the Importance of Firth Bias Reduction in Few-Shot Classification

Saba Ghaffari · Ehsan Saleh · David Forsyth · Yu-Xiong Wang

Learning accurate classifiers for novel categories from very few examples, known as few-shot image classification, is a challenging task in statistical machine learning and computer vision. The performance in few-shot classification suffers from the bias in the estimation of classifier parameters; however, an effective underlying bias reduction technique that could alleviate this issue in training few-shot classifiers has been overlooked. In this work, we demonstrate the effectiveness of Firth bias reduction in few-shot classification. Theoretically, Firth bias reduction removes the $O(N^{-1})$ first order term from the small-sample bias of the Maximum Likelihood Estimator. Here we show that the general Firth bias reduction technique simplifies to encouraging uniform class assignment probabilities for multinomial logistic classification, and almost has the same effect in cosine classifiers. We derive an easy-to-implement optimization objective for Firth penalized multinomial logistic and cosine classifiers, which is equivalent to penalizing the cross-entropy loss with a KL-divergence between the predictions and the uniform label distribution. Then, we empirically evaluate that it is consistently effective across the board for few-shot image classification, regardless of (1) the feature representations from different backbones, (2) the number of samples per class, and (3) the number of classes. Finally, we show the robustness of Firth bias reduction, in the case of imbalanced data distribution. Our implementation is available at

DARA: Dynamics-Aware Reward Augmentation in Offline Reinforcement Learning

Jinxin Liu · Hongyin Zhang · Donglin Wang

Offline reinforcement learning algorithms promise to be applicable in settings where a fixed dataset is available and no new experience can be acquired. However, such formulation is inevitably offline-data-hungry and, in practice, collecting a large offline dataset for one specific task over one specific environment is also costly and laborious. In this paper, we thus 1) formulate the offline dynamics adaptation by using (source) offline data collected from another dynamics to relax the requirement for the extensive (target) offline data, 2) characterize the dynamics shift problem in which prior offline methods do not scale well, and 3) derive a simple dynamics-aware reward augmentation (DARA) framework from both model-free and model-based offline settings. Specifically, DARA emphasizes learning from those source transition pairs that are adaptive for the target environment and mitigates the offline dynamics shift by characterizing state-action-next-state pairs instead of the typical state-action distribution sketched by prior offline RL methods. The experimental evaluation demonstrates that DARA, by augmenting rewards in the source offline dataset, can acquire an adaptive policy for the target environment and yet significantly reduce the requirement of target offline data. With only modest amounts of target offline data, our performance consistently outperforms the prior offline RL methods in both simulated and real-world tasks.

Contact Points Discovery for Soft-Body Manipulations with Differentiable Physics

Sizhe Li · Zhiao Huang · Tao Du · Hao Su · Joshua B Tenenbaum · Chuang Gan

Differentiable physics has recently been shown as a powerful tool for solving soft-body manipulation tasks. However, the differentiable physics solver often gets stuck when the initial contact points of the end effectors are sub-optimal or when performing multi-stage tasks that require contact point switching, which often leads to local minima.To address this challenge, we propose a contact point discovery approach (CPDeform) that guides the stand-alone differentiable physics solver to deform various soft-body plasticines. The key idea of our approach is to integrate optimal transport-based contact points discovery into the differentiable physics solver to overcome the local minima from initial contact points or contact switching.On single-stage tasks, our method can automatically find suitable initial contact points based on transport priorities. On complex multi-stage tasks, we can iteratively switch the contact points of end-effectors based on transport priorities. To evaluate the effectiveness of our method, we introduce PlasticineLab-M that extends the existing differentiable physics benchmark PlasticineLab to seven new challenging multi-stage soft-body manipulation tasks. Extensive experimental results suggest that: 1) on multi-stage tasks that are infeasible for the vanilla differentiable physics solver, our approach discovers contact points that efficiently guide the solver to completion; 2) on tasks where the vanilla solver performs sub-optimally or near-optimally, our contact point discovery method performs better than or on par with the manipulation performance obtained with handcrafted contact points.

Generalized rectifier wavelet covariance models for texture synthesis

Antoine Brochard · Sixin Zhang · Stéphane Mallat

State-of-the-art maximum entropy models for texture synthesis are built from statistics relying on image representations defined by convolutional neural networks (CNN). Such representations capture rich structures in texture images, outperforming wavelet-based representations in this regard. However, conversely to neural networks, wavelets offer meaningful representations, as they are known to detect structures at multiple scales (e.g. edges) in images. In this work, we propose a family of statistics built upon non-linear wavelet based representations, that can be viewed as a particular instance of a one-layer CNN, using a generalized rectifier non-linearity. These statistics significantly improve the visual quality of previous classical wavelet-based models, and allow one to produce syntheses of similar quality to state-of-the-art models, on both gray-scale and color textures.

Deep Learning without Shortcuts: Shaping the Kernel with Tailored Rectifiers

Guodong Zhang · Aleksandar Botev · James Martens

Training very deep neural networks is still an extremely challenging task. The common solution is to use shortcut connections and normalization layers, which are both crucial ingredients in the popular ResNet architecture. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that ResNets behave more like ensembles of shallower networks than truly deep ones. Recently, it was shown that deep vanilla networks (i.e.~networks without normalization layers or shortcut connections) can be trained as fast as ResNets by applying certain transformations to their activation functions. However, this method (called Deep Kernel Shaping) isn't fully compatible with ReLUs, and produces networks that overfit significantly more than ResNets on ImageNet. In this work, we rectify this situation by developing a new type of transformation that is fully compatible with a variant of ReLUs -- Leaky ReLUs. We show in experiments that our method, which introduces negligible extra computational cost, achieves validation accuracies with deep vanilla networks that are competitive with ResNets (of the same width/depth), and significantly higher than those obtained with the Edge of Chaos (EOC) method. And unlike with EOC, the validation accuracies we obtain do not get worse with depth.

ExT5: Towards Extreme Multi-Task Scaling for Transfer Learning

Vamsi Aribandi · Yi Tay · Tal Schuster · Jinfeng Rao · Huaixiu Steven Zheng · Sanket Vaibhav Mehta · Honglei Zhuang · Vinh Tran · Dara Bahri · Jianmo Ni · Jai Gupta · Kai Hui · Sebastian Ruder · Donald Metzler

Despite the recent success of multi-task learning and transfer learning for natural language processing (NLP), few works have systematically studied the effect of scaling up the number of tasks during pre-training. Towards this goal, this paper introduces ExMix (Extreme Mixture): a massive collection of 107 supervised NLP tasks across diverse domains and task-families. Using ExMix, we study the effect of multi-task pre-training at the largest scale to date, and analyze co-training transfer amongst common families of tasks. Through this analysis, we show that manually curating an ideal set of tasks for multi-task pre-training is not straightforward, and that multi-task scaling can vastly improve models on its own. Finally, we propose ExT5: a model pre-trained using a multi-task objective of self-supervised span denoising and supervised ExMix. Via extensive experiments, we show that ExT5 outperforms strong T5 baselines on SuperGLUE, GEM, Rainbow, Closed-Book QA tasks, and several tasks outside of ExMix. ExT5 also significantly improves sample efficiency while pre-training.

FILIP: Fine-grained Interactive Language-Image Pre-Training

Lewei Yao · Runhui Huang · LU HOU · Guansong Lu · Minzhe Niu · Hang Xu · Xiaodan Liang · Zhenguo Li · Xin Jiang · Chunjing Xu

Unsupervised large-scale vision-language pre-training has shown promising advances on various downstream tasks. Existing methods often model the cross-modal interaction either via the similarity of the global feature of each modality which misses sufficient information, or finer-grained interactions using cross/self-attention upon visual and textual tokens. However, cross/self-attention suffers from inferior efficiency in both training and inference. In this paper, we introduce a large-scale Fine-grained Interactive Language-Image Pre-training (FILIP) to achieve finer-level alignment through a cross-modal late interaction mechanism, which uses a token-wise maximum similarity between visual and textual tokens to guide the contrastive objective. FILIP successfully leverages the finer-grained expressiveness between image patches and textual words by modifying only contrastive loss, while simultaneously gaining the ability to pre-compute image and text representations offline at inference, keeping both large-scale training and inference efficient. Furthermore, we construct a new large-scale image-text pair dataset called FILIP300M for pre-training. Experiments show that FILIP achieves state-of-the-art performance on multiple downstream vision-language tasks including zero-shot image classification and image-text retrieval. The visualization on word-patch alignment further shows that FILIP can learn meaningful fine-grained features with promising localization ability.

Outstanding Paper
Comparing Distributions by Measuring Differences that Affect Decision Making

Shengjia Zhao · Abhishek Sinha · Yutong He · Aidan Perreault · Jiaming Song · Stefano Ermon

Measuring the discrepancy between two probability distributions is a fundamental problem in machine learning and statistics. We propose a new class of discrepancies based on the optimal loss for a decision task -- two distributions are different if the optimal decision loss is higher on their mixture than on each individual distribution. By suitably choosing the decision task, this generalizes the Jensen-Shannon divergence and the maximum mean discrepancy family. We apply our approach to two-sample tests, and on various benchmarks, we achieve superior test power compared to competing methods. In addition, a modeler can directly specify their preferences when comparing distributions through the decision loss. We apply this property to understanding the effects of climate change on different social and economic activities, evaluating sample quality, and selecting features targeting different decision tasks.

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

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

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

The Effects of Invertibility on the Representational Complexity of Encoders in Variational Autoencoders

Divyansh Pareek · Andrej Risteski

Training and using modern neural-network based latent-variable generative models (like Variational Autoencoders) often require simultaneously training a generative direction along with an inferential (encoding) direction, which approximates the posterior distribution over the latent variables. Thus, the question arises: how complex does the inferential model need to be, in order to be able to accurately model the posterior distribution of a given generative model? In this paper, we identify an important property of the generative map impacting the required size of the encoder. We show that if the generative map is ``strongly invertible" (in a sense we suitably formalize), the inferential model need not be much more complex. Conversely, we prove that there exist non-invertible generative maps, for which the encoding direction needs to be exponentially larger (under standard assumptions in computational complexity). Importantly, we do not require the generative model to be layerwise invertible, which a lot of the related literature assumes and isn't satisfied by many architectures used in practice (e.g. convolution and pooling based networks). Thus, we provide theoretical support for the empirical wisdom that learning deep generative models is harder when data lies on a low-dimensional manifold.

Implicit Bias of MSE Gradient Optimization in Underparameterized Neural Networks

Benjamin Bowman · Guido Montufar

We study the dynamics of a neural network in function space when optimizing the mean squared error via gradient flow. We show that in the underparameterized regime the network learns eigenfunctions of an integral operator $T_K$ determined by the Neural Tangent Kernel at rates corresponding to their eigenvalues. For example, for uniformly distributed data on the sphere $S^{d - 1}$ and rotation invariant weight distributions, the eigenfunctions of $T_K$ are the spherical harmonics. Our results can be understood as describing a spectral bias in the underparameterized regime. The proofs use the concept of ``Damped Deviations'' where deviations of the NTK matter less for eigendirections with large eigenvalues. Aside from the underparameterized regime, the damped deviations point-of-view allows us to extend certain results in the literature in the overparameterized setting.

Hindsight Foresight Relabeling for Meta-Reinforcement Learning

Michael Wan · Jian Peng · Tanmay Gangwani

Meta-reinforcement learning (meta-RL) algorithms allow for agents to learn new behaviors from small amounts of experience, mitigating the sample inefficiency problem in RL. However, while meta-RL agents can adapt quickly to new tasks at test time after experiencing only a few trajectories, the meta-training process is still sample-inefficient. Prior works have found that in the multi-task RL setting, relabeling past transitions and thus sharing experience among tasks can improve sample efficiency and asymptotic performance. We apply this idea to the meta-RL setting and devise a new relabeling method called Hindsight Foresight Relabeling (HFR). We construct a relabeling distribution using the combination of "hindsight", which is used to relabel trajectories using reward functions from the training task distribution, and "foresight", which takes the relabeled trajectories and computes the utility of each trajectory for each task. HFR is easy to implement and readily compatible with existing meta-RL algorithms. We find that HFR improves performance when compared to other relabeling methods on a variety of meta-RL tasks.

Missingness Bias in Model Debugging

Saachi Jain · Hadi Salman · Eric Wong · Pengchuan Zhang · Vibhav Vineet · Sai Vemprala · Aleksander Madry

Missingness, or the absence of features from an input, is a concept fundamental to many model debugging tools. However, in computer vision, pixels cannot simply be removed from an image. One thus tends to resort to heuristics such as blacking out pixels, which may in turn introduce bias into the debugging process. We study such biases and, in particular, show how transformer-based architectures can enable a more natural implementation of missingness, which side-steps these issues and improves the reliability of model debugging in practice.

Relational Multi-Task Learning: Modeling Relations between Data and Tasks

Kaidi Cao · Jiaxuan You · Jure Leskovec

A key assumption in multi-task learning is that at the inference time the multi-task model only has access to a given data point but not to the data point’s labels from other tasks. This presents an opportunity to extend multi-task learning to utilize data point’s labels from other auxiliary tasks, and this way improves performance on the new task. Here we introduce a novel relational multi-task learning setting where we leverage data point labels from auxiliary tasks to make more accurate predictions on the new task. We develop MetaLink, where our key innovation is to build a knowledge graph that connects data points and tasks and thus allows us to leverage labels from auxiliary tasks. The knowledge graph consists of two types of nodes: (1) data nodes, where node features are data embeddings computed by the neural network, and (2) task nodes, with the last layer’s weights for each task as node features. The edges in this knowledge graph capture data-task relationships, and the edge label captures the label of a data point on a particular task. Under MetaLink, we reformulate the new task as a link label prediction problem between a data node and a task node. The MetaLink framework provides flexibility to model knowledge transfer from auxiliary task labels to the task of interest. We evaluate MetaLink on 6 benchmark datasets in both biochemical and vision domains. Experiments demonstrate that MetaLink can successfully utilize the relations among different tasks, outperforming the state-of-the-art methods under the proposed relational multi-task learning setting, with up to 27% improvement in ROC AUC.

Hidden Parameter Recurrent State Space Models For Changing Dynamics Scenarios

Vaisakh Shaj · Dieter Büchler · Rohit Sonker · Philipp Becker · Gerhard Neumann

Recurrent State-space models (RSSMs) are highly expressive models for learning patterns in time series data and for system identification. However, these models are often based on the assumption that the dynamics are fixed and unchanging, which is rarely the case in real-world scenarios. Many control applications often exhibit tasks with similar, but not identical dynamics, that can be modelled as having a common latent structure. We introduce the Hidden Parameter Recurrent State Space Models (HiP-RSSMs), a framework that parametrizes a family of related state-space models with a low-dimensional set of latent factors. We present a simple and effective way of performing learning and inference over this Gaussian graphical model that avoids approximations like variational inference. We show that HiP-RSSMs outperforms RSSMs and competing multi-task models on several challenging robotic benchmarks both on real systems and simulations.

Non-Transferable Learning: A New Approach for Model Ownership Verification and Applicability Authorization

Lixu Wang · Shichao Xu · Ruiqi Xu · Xiao Wang · Qi Zhu

As Artificial Intelligence as a Service gains popularity, protecting well-trained models as intellectual property is becoming increasingly important. There are two common types of protection methods: ownership verification and usage authorization. In this paper, we propose Non-Transferable Learning (NTL), a novel approach that captures the exclusive data representation in the learned model and restricts the model generalization ability to certain domains. This approach provides effective solutions to both model verification and authorization. Specifically: 1) For ownership verification, watermarking techniques are commonly used but are often vulnerable to sophisticated watermark removal methods. By comparison, our NTL-based ownership verification provides robust resistance to state-of-the-art watermark removal methods, as shown in extensive experiments with 6 removal approaches over the digits, CIFAR10 & STL10, and VisDA datasets. 2) For usage authorization, prior solutions focus on authorizing specific users to access the model, but authorized users can still apply the model to any data without restriction. Our NTL-based authorization approach instead provides data-centric protection, which we call applicability authorization, by significantly degrading the performance of the model on unauthorized data. Its effectiveness is also shown through experiments on aforementioned datasets.

Scene Transformer: A unified architecture for predicting future trajectories of multiple agents

Jiquan Ngiam · Vijay Vasudevan · Benjamin Caine · Zhengdong Zhang · Hao-Tien (Lewis) Chiang · Jeffrey Ling · Rebecca Roelofs · Alex Bewley · Chenxi Liu · Ashish Venugopal · David Weiss · Ben Sapp · Zhifeng Chen · Jonathon Shlens

Predicting the motion of multiple agents is necessary for planning in dynamic environments. This task is challenging for autonomous driving since agents (e.g., vehicles and pedestrians) and their associated behaviors may be diverse and influence one another. Most prior work have focused on predicting independent futures for each agent based on all past motion, and planning against these independent predictions. However, planning against independent predictions can make it challenging to represent the future interaction possibilities between different agents, leading to sub-optimal planning. In this work, we formulate a model for predicting the behavior of all agents jointly, producing consistent futures that account for interactions between agents. Inspired by recent language modeling approaches, we use a masking strategy as the query to our model, enabling one to invoke a single model to predict agent behavior in many ways, such as potentially conditioned on the goal or full future trajectory of the autonomous vehicle or the behavior of other agents in the environment. Our model architecture employs attention to combine features across road elements, agent interactions, and time steps. We evaluate our approach on autonomous driving datasets for both marginal and joint motion prediction, and achieve state of the art performance across two popular datasets. Through combining a scene-centric approach, agent permutation equivariant model, and a sequence masking strategy, we show that our model can unify a variety of motion prediction tasks from joint motion predictions to conditioned prediction.

Learning to Dequantise with Truncated Flows

Shawn Tan · Chin-Wei Huang · Alessandro Sordoni · Aaron Courville

Dequantisation is a general technique used for transforming data described by a discrete random variable $x$ into a continuous (latent) random variable $z$, for the purpose of it being modeled by likelihood-based density models. Dequantisation was first introduced in the context of ordinal data, such as image pixel values. However, when the data is categorical, the dequantisation scheme is not obvious.We learn such a dequantisation scheme $q(z | x)$, using variational inference with TRUncated FLows (TRUFL) --- a novel flow-based model that allows the dequantiser to have a learnable truncated support. Unlike previous work, the TRUFL dequantiser is (i) capable of embedding the data losslessly in certain cases, since the truncation allows the conditional distributions $q(z | x)$ to have non-overlapping bounded supports, while being (ii) trainable with back-propagation. Addtionally, since the support of the marginal $q(z)$ is bounded and the support of prior $p(z)$ is not, we propose renormalising the prior distribution over the support of $q(z)$. We derive a lower bound for training, and propose a rejection sampling scheme to account for the invalid samples during generation.Experimentally, we benchmark TRUFL on constrained generation tasks, and find that it outperforms prior approaches. In addition, we find that rejection sampling results in higher validity for the constrained problems.

From Intervention to Domain Transportation: A Novel Perspective to Optimize Recommendation

Da Xu · Yuting Ye · Chuanwei Ruan · evren korpeoglu · Sushant Kumar · kannan achan

The interventional nature of recommendation has attracted increasing attention in recent years. It particularly motivates researchers to formulate learning and evaluating recommendation as causal inference and data missing-not-at-random problems. However, few take seriously the consequence of violating the critical assumption of overlapping, which we prove can significantly threaten the validity and interpretation of the outcome. We find a critical piece missing in the current understanding of information retrieval (IR) systems: as interventions, recommendation not only affects the already observed data, but it also interferes with the target domain (distribution) of interest. We then rephrase optimizing recommendation as finding an intervention that best transports the patterns it learns from the observed domain to its intervention domain. Towards this end, we use domain transportation to characterize the learning-intervention mechanism of recommendation. We design a principled transportation-constraint risk minimization objective and convert it to a two-player minimax game.We prove the consistency, generalization, and excessive risk bounds for the proposed objective, and elaborate how they compare to the current results. Finally, we carry out extensive real-data and semi-synthetic experiments to demonstrate the advantage of our approach, and launch online testing with a real-world IR system.

Memory Augmented Optimizers for Deep Learning

Paul-Aymeric McRae · Prasanna Parthasarathi · Mido Assran · Sarath Chandar

Popular approaches for minimizing loss in data-driven learning often involve an abstraction or an explicit retention of the history of gradients for efficient parameter updates. The aggregated history of gradients nudges the parameter updates in the right direction even when the gradients at any given step are not informative. Although the history of gradients summarized in meta-parameters or explicitly stored in memory has been shown effective in theory and practice, the question of whether $all$ or only a subset of the gradients in the history are sufficient in deciding the parameter updates remains unanswered. In this paper, we propose a framework of memory-augmented gradient descent optimizers that retain a limited view of their gradient history in their internal memory. Such optimizers scale well to large real-life datasets, and our experiments show that the memory augmented extensions of standard optimizers enjoy accelerated convergence and improved performance on a majority of computer vision and language tasks that we considered.Additionally, we prove that the proposed class of optimizers with fixed-size memory converge under assumptions of strong convexity, regardless of which gradients are selected or how they are linearly combined to form the update step.

RvS: What is Essential for Offline RL via Supervised Learning?

Scott Emmons · Benjamin Eysenbach · Ilya Kostrikov · Sergey Levine

Recent work has shown that supervised learning alone, without temporal difference (TD) learning, can be remarkably effective for offline RL. When does this hold true, and which algorithmic components are necessary? Through extensive experiments, we boil supervised learning for offline RL down to its essential elements. In every environment suite we consider, simply maximizing likelihood with a two-layer feedforward MLP is competitive with state-of-the-art results of substantially more complex methods based on TD learning or sequence modeling with Transformers. Carefully choosing model capacity (e.g., via regularization or architecture) and choosing which information to condition on (e.g., goals or rewards) are critical for performance. These insights serve as a field guide for practitioners doing Reinforcement Learning via Supervised Learning (which we coin RvS learning). They also probe the limits of existing RvS methods, which are comparatively weak on random data, and suggest a number of open problems.

A Statistical Framework for Efficient Out of Distribution Detection in Deep Neural Networks

Matan Haroush · Tzviel Frostig · Ruth Heller · Daniel Soudry

Background.Commonly, Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) generalize well on samples drawn from a distribution similar to that of the training set. However, DNNs' predictions are brittle and unreliable when the test samples are drawn from a dissimilar distribution.This is a major concern for deployment in real-world applications, where such behavior may come at a considerable cost, such as industrial production lines, autonomous vehicles, or healthcare applications.Contributions.We frame Out Of Distribution (OOD) detection in DNNs as a statistical hypothesis testing problem. Tests generated within our proposed framework combine evidence from the entire network.Unlike previous OOD detection heuristics, this framework returns a $p$-value for each test sample. It is guaranteed to maintain the Type I Error (T1E - incorrectly predicting OOD for an actual in-distribution sample) for test data. Moreover, this allows to combine several detectors while maintaining the T1E.Building on this framework, we suggest a novel OOD procedure based on low-order statistics. Our method achieves comparable or better results than state-of-the-art methods on well-accepted OOD benchmarks, without retraining the network parameters or assuming prior knowledge on the test distribution --- and at a fraction of the computational cost.

Step-unrolled Denoising Autoencoders for Text Generation

Nikolay Savinov · Junyoung Chung · Mikolaj Binkowski · Erich Elsen · Aaron v den

In this paper we propose a new generative model of text, Step-unrolled Denoising Autoencoder (SUNDAE), that does not rely on autoregressive models. Similarly to denoising diffusion techniques, SUNDAE is repeatedly applied on a sequence of tokens, starting from random inputs and improving them each time until convergence. We present a simple new improvement operator that converges in fewer iterations than diffusion methods, while qualitatively producing better samples on natural language datasets. SUNDAE achieves state-of-the-art results (among non-autoregressive methods) on the WMT'14 English-to-German translation task and good qualitative results on unconditional language modeling on the Colossal Cleaned Common Crawl dataset and a dataset of Python code from GitHub. The non-autoregressive nature of SUNDAE opens up possibilities beyond left-to-right prompted generation, by filling in arbitrary blank patterns in a template.

DR3: Value-Based Deep Reinforcement Learning Requires Explicit Regularization

Aviral Kumar · Rishabh Agarwal · Tengyu Ma · Aaron Courville · George Tucker · Sergey Levine

Despite overparameterization, deep networks trained via supervised learning are surprisingly easy to optimize and exhibit excellent generalization. One hypothesis to explain this is that overparameterized deep networks enjoy the benefits of implicit regularization induced by stochastic gradient descent, which favors parsimonious solutions that generalize well on test inputs. It is reasonable to surmise that deep reinforcement learning (RL) methods could also benefit from this effect. In this paper, we discuss how the implicit regularization effect of SGD seen in supervised learning could in fact be harmful in the offline deep RL setting, leading to poor generalization and degenerate feature representations. Our theoretical analysis shows that when existing models of implicit regularization are applied to temporal difference learning, the resulting derived regularizer favors degenerate solutions with excessive aliasing, in stark contrast to the supervised learning case. We back up these findings empirically, showing that feature representations learned by a deep network value function trained via bootstrapping can indeed become degenerate, aliasing the representations for state-action pairs that appear on either side of the Bellman backup. To address this issue, we derive the form of this implicit regularizer and, inspired by this derivation, propose a simple and effective explicit regularizer, called DR3, that counteracts the undesirable effects of this implicit regularizer. When combined with existing offline RL methods, DR3 substantially improves performance and stability, alleviating unlearning in Atari 2600 games, D4RL domains and robotic manipulation from images.

CoMPS: Continual Meta Policy Search

Glen Berseth · Zhiwei Zhang · Grace Zhang · Chelsea Finn · Sergey Levine

We develop a new continual meta-learning method to address challenges in sequential multi-task learning. In this setting, the agent's goal is to achieve high reward over any sequence of tasks quickly. Prior meta-reinforcement learning algorithms have demonstrated promising results in accelerating the acquisition of new tasks. However, they require access to all tasks during training. Beyond simply transferring past experience to new tasks, our goal is to devise continual reinforcement learning algorithms that learn to learn, using their experience on previous tasks to learn new tasks more quickly. We introduce a new method, continual meta-policy search (CoMPS), that removes this limitation by meta-training in an incremental fashion, over each task in a sequence, without revisiting prior tasks. CoMPS continuously repeats two subroutines: learning a new task using RL and using the experience from RL to perform completely offline meta-learning to prepare for subsequent task learning. We find that CoMPS outperforms prior continual learning and off-policy meta-reinforcement methods on several sequences of challenging continuous control tasks.

The Boltzmann Policy Distribution: Accounting for Systematic Suboptimality in Human Models

Cassidy Laidlaw · Anca Dragan

Models of human behavior for prediction and collaboration tend to fall into two categories: ones that learn from large amounts of data via imitation learning, and ones that assume human behavior to be noisily-optimal for some reward function. The former are very useful, but only when it is possible to gather a lot of human data in the target environment and distribution. The advantage of the latter type, which includes Boltzmann rationality, is the ability to make accurate predictions in new environments without extensive data when humans are actually close to optimal. However, these models fail when humans exhibit systematic suboptimality, i.e. when their deviations from optimal behavior are not independent, but instead consistent over time. Our key insight is that systematic suboptimality can be modeled by predicting policies, which couple action choices over time, instead of trajectories. We introduce the Boltzmann policy distribution (BPD), which serves as a prior over human policies and adapts via Bayesian inference to capture systematic deviations by observing human actions during a single episode. The BPD is difficult to compute and represent because policies lie in a high-dimensional continuous space, but we leverage tools from generative and sequence modeling to enable efficient sampling and inference. We show that the BPD enables prediction of human behavior and human-AI collaboration equally as well as imitation learning-based human models while using far less data.

Decentralized Learning for Overparameterized Problems: A Multi-Agent Kernel Approximation Approach

Prashant Khanduri · Haibo Yang · Mingyi Hong · Jia Liu · Hoi To Wai · Sijia Liu

This work develops a novel framework for communication-efficient distributed learning where the models to be learned are overparameterized. We focus on a class of kernel learning problems (which includes the popular neural tangent kernel (NTK) learning as a special case) and propose a novel {\it multi-agent kernel approximation} technique that allows the agents to distributedly estimate the full kernel function, and subsequently perform decentralized optimization, without directly exchanging any local data or parameters. The proposed framework is a significant departure from the classical consensus-based approaches, because the agents do not exchange problem parameters, and no consensus is required. We analyze the optimization and the generalization performance of the proposed framework for the $\ell_2$ loss. We show that with $M$ agents and $N$ total samples when certain generalized inner-product kernels (resp. the random features kernel) are used, each agent needs to communicate $\mathcal{O}\big({N^2}/{M}\big)$ bits (resp. $\mathcal{O}\big(N \sqrt{N}/M \big)$ real values) to achieve minimax optimal generalization performance. We validate the theoretical results on 90 UCI benchmarking datasets (with average data size $N \approx 1000$) and show that each agent needs to share a total of $200N/M$ bits (resp. $3N/M$ real values) to closely match the performance of the centralized algorithms, and these numbers are independent of parameter and feature dimensions.

Learning State Representations via Retracing in Reinforcement Learning

Changmin Yu · Dong Li · Jianye HAO · Jun Wang · Neil Burgess

We propose learning via retracing, a novel self-supervised approach for learning the state representation (and the associated dynamics model) for reinforcement learning tasks. In addition to the predictive (reconstruction) supervision in the forward direction, we propose to include "retraced" transitions for representation/model learning, by enforcing the cycle-consistency constraint between the original and retraced states, hence improve upon the sample efficiency of learning. Moreover, learning via retracing explicitly propagates information about future transitions backward for inferring previous states, thus facilitates stronger representation learning for the downstream reinforcement learning tasks. We introduce Cycle-Consistency World Model (CCWM), a concrete model-based instantiation of learning via retracing. Additionally we propose a novel adaptive "truncation" mechanism for counteracting the negative impacts brought by "irreversible" transitions such that learning via retracing can be maximally effective. Through extensive empirical studies on visual-based continuous control benchmarks, we demonstrate that CCWM achieves state-of-the-art performance in terms of sample efficiency and asymptotic performance, whilst exhibiting behaviours that are indicative of stronger representation learning.

Graph Auto-Encoder via Neighborhood Wasserstein Reconstruction

Mingyue Tang · Pan Li · Carl Yang

Graph neural networks (GNNs) have drawn significant research attention recently, mostly under the setting of semi-supervised learning. When task-agnostic representations are preferred or supervision is simply unavailable, the auto-encoder framework comes in handy with a natural graph reconstruction objective for unsupervised GNN training. However, existing graph auto-encoders are designed to reconstruct the direct links, so GNNs trained in this way are only optimized towards proximity-oriented graph mining tasks, and will fall short when the topological structures matter. In this work, we revisit the graph encoding process of GNNs which essentially learns to encode the neighborhood information of each node into an embedding vector, and propose a novel graph decoder to reconstruct the entire neighborhood information regarding both proximity and structure via Neighborhood Wasserstein Reconstruction (NWR). Specifically, from the GNN embedding of each node, NWR jointly predicts its node degree and neighbor feature distribution, where the distribution prediction adopts an optimal-transport loss based on the Wasserstein distance. Extensive experiments on both synthetic and real-world network datasets show that the unsupervised node representations learned with NWR have much more advantageous in structure-oriented graph mining tasks, while also achieving competitive performance in proximity-oriented ones.

Churn Reduction via Distillation

Heinrich Jiang · Harikrishna Narasimhan · Dara Bahri · Andrew Cotter · Afshin Rostamizadeh

In real-world systems, models are frequently updated as more data becomes available, and in addition to achieving high accuracy, the goal is to also maintain a low difference in predictions compared to the base model (i.e. predictive churn). If model retraining results in vastly different behavior, then it could cause negative effects in downstream systems, especially if this churn can be avoided with limited impact on model accuracy. In this paper, we show an equivalence between training with distillation using the base model as the teacher and training with an explicit constraint on the predictive churn. We then show that distillation performs strongly for low churn training against a number of recent baselines on a wide range of datasets and model architectures, including fully-connected networks, convolutional networks, and transformers.

On the role of population heterogeneity in emergent communication

Mathieu Rita · Florian Strub · Jean-Bastien Grill · Olivier Pietquin · Emmanuel Dupoux

Populations have often been perceived as a structuring component for language to emerge and evolve: the larger the population, the more systematic the language. While this observation is widespread in the sociolinguistic literature, it has not been reproduced in computer simulations with neural agents. In this paper, we thus aim to clarify this apparent contradiction. We explore emergent language properties by varying agent population size in the speaker-listener Lewis Game. After reproducing the experimental paradox, we challenge the simulation assumption that the agent community is homogeneous. We first investigate how speaker-listener asymmetry alters language structure to examine two potential diversity factors: training speed and network capacity. We find out that emergent language properties are only altered by the relative difference of factors between speaker and listener, and not by their absolute values. From then, we leverage this observation to control population heterogeneity without introducing confounding factors. We finally show that introducing such training speed heterogeneities naturally sort out the initial paradox: larger simulated communities start developing more systematic and structured languages.

AdaMatch: A Unified Approach to Semi-Supervised Learning and Domain Adaptation

David Berthelot · Rebecca Roelofs · Kihyuk Sohn · Nicholas Carlini · Alexey Kurakin

We extend semi-supervised learning to the problem of domain adaptation to learn significantly higher-accuracy models that train on one data distribution and test on a different one. With the goal of generality, we introduce AdaMatch, a unified solution for unsupervised domain adaptation (UDA), semi-supervised learning (SSL), and semi-supervised domain adaptation (SSDA). In an extensive experimental study, we compare its behavior with respective state-of-the-art techniques from SSL, SSDA, and UDA and find that AdaMatch either matches or significantly exceeds the state-of-the-art in each case using the same hyper-parameters regardless of the dataset or task. For example, AdaMatch nearly doubles the accuracy compared to that of the prior state-of-the-art on the UDA task for DomainNet and even exceeds the accuracy of the prior state-of-the-art obtained with pre-training by 6.4% when AdaMatch is trained completely from scratch. Furthermore, by providing AdaMatch with just one labeled example per class from the target domain (i.e., the SSDA setting), we increase the target accuracy by an additional 6.1%, and with 5 labeled examples, by 13.6%.

EE-Net: Exploitation-Exploration Neural Networks in Contextual Bandits

Yikun Ban · Yuchen Yan · Arindam Banerjee · Jingrui He

In this paper, we propose a novel neural exploration strategy in contextual bandits, EE-Net, distinct from the standard UCB-based and TS-based approaches. Contextual multi-armed bandits have been studied for decades with various applications. To solve the exploitation-exploration tradeoff in bandits, there are three main techniques: epsilon-greedy, Thompson Sampling (TS), and Upper Confidence Bound (UCB). In recent literature, linear contextual bandits have adopted ridge regression to estimate the reward function and combine it with TS or UCB strategies for exploration. However, this line of works explicitly assumes the reward is based on a linear function of arm vectors, which may not be true in real-world datasets. To overcome this challenge, a series of neural bandit algorithms have been proposed, where a neural network is used to learn the underlying reward function and TS or UCB are adapted for exploration. Instead of calculating a large-deviation based statistical bound for exploration like previous methods, we propose "EE-Net", a novel neural-based exploration strategy. In addition to using a neural network (Exploitation network) to learn the reward function, EE-Net uses another neural network (Exploration network) to adaptively learn potential gains compared to the currently estimated reward for exploration. Then, a decision-maker is constructed to combine the outputs from the Exploitation and Exploration networks. We prove that EE-Net can achieve $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{T\log T})$ regret, which is tighter than existing state-of-the-art neural bandit algorithms. Through extensive experiments on four real-world datasets, we show that EE-Net outperforms existing linear and neural contextual bandit approaches.

Consistent Counterfactuals for Deep Models

Emily Black · Zifan Wang · Matt Fredrikson

Counterfactual examples are one of the most commonly-cited methods for explaining the predictions of machine learning models in key areas such as finance and medical diagnosis. Counterfactuals are often discussed under the assumption that the model on which they will be used is static, but in deployment models may be periodically retrained or fine-tuned. This paper studies the consistency of model prediction on counterfactual examples in deep networks under small changes to initial training conditions, such as weight initialization and leave-one-out variations in data, as often occurs during model deployment. We demonstrate experimentally that counterfactual examples for deep models are often inconsistent across such small changes, and that increasing the cost of the counterfactual, a stability-enhancing mitigation suggested by prior work in the context of simpler models, is not a reliable heuristic in deep networks. Rather, our analysis shows that a model's Lipschitz continuity around the counterfactual, along with confidence of its prediction, is key to its consistency across related models. To this end, we propose Stable Neighbor Search as a way to generate more consistent counterfactual explanations, and illustrate the effectiveness of this approach on several benchmark datasets.

Connectome-constrained Latent Variable Model of Whole-Brain Neural Activity

Lu Mi · Richard Xu · Sridhama Prakhya · Albert Lin · Nir Shavit · Aravinthan Samuel · Srinivas C Turaga

The availability of both anatomical connectivity and brain-wide neural activity measurements in C. elegans make the worm a promising system for learning detailed, mechanistic models of an entire nervous system in a data-driven way. However, one faces several challenges when constructing such a model. We often do not have direct experimental access to important modeling details such as single-neuron dynamics and the signs and strengths of the synaptic connectivity. Further, neural activity can only be measured in a subset of neurons, often indirectly via calcium imaging, and significant trial-to-trial variability has been observed. To address these challenges, we introduce a connectome-constrained latent variable model (CC-LVM) of the unobserved voltage dynamics of the entire C. elegans nervous system and the observed calcium signals. We used the framework of variational autoencoders to fit parameters of the mechanistic simulation constituting the generative model of the LVM to calcium imaging observations. A variational approximate posterior distribution over latent voltage traces for all neurons is efficiently inferred using an inference network, and constrained by a prior distribution given by the biophysical simulation of neural dynamics. We applied this model to an experimental whole-brain dataset, and found that connectomic constraints enable our LVM to predict the activity of neurons whose activity were withheld significantly better than models unconstrained by a connectome. We explored models with different degrees of biophysical detail, and found that models with realistic conductance-based synapses provide markedly better predictions than current-based synapses for this system.

Towards Building A Group-based Unsupervised Representation Disentanglement Framework

Tao Yang · Xuanchi Ren · Yuwang Wang · Wenjun Zeng · Nanning Zheng

Disentangled representation learning is one of the major goals of deep learning, and is a key step for achieving explainable and generalizable models. The key idea of the state-of-the-art VAE-based unsupervised representation disentanglement methods is to minimize the total correlation of the joint distribution of the latent variables. However, it has been proved that their goal can not be achieved without introducing other inductive biases. The Group Theory based definition of representation disentanglement mathematically connects the data transformations to the representations using the formalism of group. In this paper, built on the group-based definition and inspired by the \emph{n-th dihedral group}, we first propose a theoretical framework towards achieving unsupervised representation disentanglement. We then propose a model based on existing VAE-based methods to tackle the unsupervised learning problem of the framework. In the theoretical framework, we prove three sufficient conditions on model, group structure, and data respectively in an effort to achieve, in an unsupervised way, disentangled representation per group-based definition. With these conditions, we offer an option, from the perspective of the group-based definition, for the inductive bias that existing VAE-based models lack. Experimentally, we train 1800 models covering the most prominent VAE-based methods on five datasets to verify the effectiveness of our theoretical framework. Compared to the original VAE-based methods, these Groupified VAEs consistently achieve better mean performance with smaller variances.

DIVA: Dataset Derivative of a Learning Task

Yonatan Dukler · Alessandro Achille · Giovanni Paolini · Avinash Ravichandran · Marzia Polito · Stefano Soatto

We present a method to compute the derivative of a learning task with respect to a dataset. A learning task is a function from a training set to the validation error, which can be represented by a trained deep neural network (DNN). The ``dataset derivative'' is a linear operator, computed around the trained model, that informs how perturbations of the weight of each training sample affect the validation error, usually computed on a separate validation dataset. Our method, DIVA (Differentiable Validation) hinges on a closed-form differentiable expression of the leave-one-out cross-validation error around a pre-trained DNN. Such expression constitutes the dataset derivative. DIVA could be used for dataset auto-curation, for example removing samples with faulty annotations, augmenting a dataset with additional relevant samples, or rebalancing. More generally, DIVA can be used to optimize the dataset, along with the parameters of the model, as part of the training process without the need for a separate validation dataset, unlike bi-level optimization methods customary in AutoML. To illustrate the flexibility of DIVA, we report experiments on sample auto-curation tasks such as outlier rejection, dataset extension, and automatic aggregation of multi-modal data.

$\pi$BO: Augmenting Acquisition Functions with User Beliefs for Bayesian Optimization

Carl Hvarfner · Danny Stoll · Artur Souza · Marius Lindauer · Frank Hutter · Luigi Nardi

Bayesian optimization (BO) has become an established framework and popular tool for hyperparameter optimization (HPO) of machine learning (ML) algorithms. While known for its sample-efficiency, vanilla BO can not utilize readily available prior beliefs the practitioner has on the potential location of the optimum. Thus, BO disregards a valuable source of information, reducing its appeal to ML practitioners. To address this issue, we propose $\pi$BO, an acquisition function generalization which incorporates prior beliefs about the location of the optimum in the form of a probability distribution, provided by the user. In contrast to previous approaches, $\pi$BO is conceptually simple and can easily be integrated with existing libraries and many acquisition functions. We provide regret bounds when $\pi$BO is applied to the common Expected Improvement acquisition function and prove convergence at regular rates independently of the prior. Further, our experiments show that $\pi$BO outperforms competing approaches across a wide suite of benchmarks and prior characteristics. We also demonstrate that $\pi$BO improves on the state-of-the-art performance for a popular deep learning task, with a $12.5\times$ time-to-accuracy speedup over prominent BO approaches.

Distribution Compression in Near-Linear Time

Abhishek Shetty · Raaz Dwivedi · Lester Mackey

In distribution compression, one aims to accurately summarize a probability distribution $\mathbb{P}$ using a small number of representative points. Near-optimal thinning procedures achieve this goal by sampling $n$ points from a Markov chain and identifying $\sqrt{n}$ points with $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(1/\sqrt{n})$ discrepancy to $\mathbb{P}$. Unfortunately, these algorithms suffer from quadratic or super-quadratic runtime in the sample size $n$. To address this deficiency, we introduce Compress++, a simple meta-procedure for speeding up any thinning algorithm while suffering at most a factor of $4$ in error. When combined with the quadratic-time kernel halving and kernel thinning algorithms of Dwivedi and Mackey (2021), Compress++ delivers $\sqrt{n}$ points with $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{\log n/n})$ integration error and better-than-Monte-Carlo maximum mean discrepancy in $\mathcal{O}(n \log^3 n)$ time and $\mathcal{O}( \sqrt{n} \log^2 n )$ space. Moreover, Compress++ enjoys the same near-linear runtime given any quadratic-time input and reduces the runtime of super-quadratic algorithms by a square-root factor. In our benchmarks with high-dimensional Monte Carlo samples and Markov chains targeting challenging differential equation posteriors, Compress++ matches or nearly matches the accuracy of its input algorithm in orders of magnitude less time.

Long Expressive Memory for Sequence Modeling

T. Konstantin Rusch · Siddhartha Mishra · N. Benjamin Erichson · Michael W Mahoney

We propose a novel method called Long Expressive Memory (LEM) for learning long-term sequential dependencies. LEM is gradient-based, it can efficiently process sequential tasks with very long-term dependencies, and it is sufficiently expressive to be able to learn complicated input-output maps. To derive LEM, we consider a system of multiscale ordinary differential equations, as well as a suitable time-discretization of this system. For LEM, we derive rigorous bounds to show the mitigation of the exploding and vanishing gradients problem, a well-known challenge for gradient-based recurrent sequential learning methods. We also prove that LEM can approximate a large class of dynamical systems to high accuracy. Our empirical results, ranging from image and time-series classification through dynamical systems prediction to speech recognition and language modeling, demonstrate that LEM outperforms state-of-the-art recurrent neural networks, gated recurrent units, and long short-term memory models.

Efficient Token Mixing for Transformers via Adaptive Fourier Neural Operators

John Guibas · Morteza Mardani · Zongyi Li · Andrew Tao · Anima Anandkumar · Bryan Catanzaro

Vision transformers have delivered tremendous success in representation learning. This is primarily due to effective token mixing through self attention. However, this scales quadratically with the number of pixels, which becomes infeasible for high-resolution inputs. To cope with this challenge, we propose Adaptive Fourier Neural Operator (AFNO) as an efficient token mixer that learns to mix in the Fourier domain. AFNO is based on a principled foundation of operator learning which allows us to frame token mixing as a continuous global convolution without any dependence on the input resolution. This principle was previously used to design FNO, which solves global convolution efficiently in the Fourier domain and has shown promise in learning challenging PDEs. To handle challenges in visual representation learning such as discontinuities in images and high resolution inputs, we propose principled architectural modifications to FNO which results in memory and computational efficiency. This includes imposing a block-diagonal structure on the channel mixing weights, adaptively sharing weights across tokens, and sparsifying the frequency modes via soft-thresholding and shrinkage. The resulting model is highly parallel with a quasi-linear complexity and has linear memory in the sequence size. AFNO outperforms self-attention mechanisms for few-shot segmentation in terms of both efficiency and accuracy. For Cityscapes segmentation with the Segformer-B3 backbone, AFNO can handle a sequence size of 65k and outperforms other efficient self-attention mechanisms.

Image BERT Pre-training with Online Tokenizer

Jinghao Zhou · Chen Wei · Huiyu Wang · Wei Shen · Cihang Xie · Alan Yuille · Tao Kong

The success of language Transformers is primarily attributed to the pretext task of masked language modeling (MLM), where texts are first tokenized into semantically meaningful pieces.In this work, we study masked image modeling (MIM) and indicate the necessity and challenges of using a semantically meaningful visual tokenizer.We present a self-supervised framework iBOT that can perform masked prediction with an online tokenizer. Specifically, we perform self-distillation on masked patch tokens and take the teacher network as the online tokenizer, along with self-distillation on the class token to acquire visual semantics.The online tokenizer is jointly learnable with the MIM objective and dispenses with a multi-stage training pipeline where the tokenizer needs to be pre-trained beforehand.We show the prominence of iBOT by achieving an 82.3% linear probing accuracy and an 87.8% fine-tuning accuracy evaluated on ImageNet-1K.Beyond the state-of-the-art image classification results, we underline emerging local semantic patterns, which helps the models to obtain strong robustness against common corruptions and achieve leading results on dense downstream tasks, e.g., object detection, instance segmentation, and semantic segmentation.

Pessimistic Model-based Offline Reinforcement Learning under Partial Coverage

Masatoshi Uehara · Wen Sun

We study model-based offline Reinforcement Learning with general function approximation without a full coverage assumption on the offline data distribution. We present an algorithm named Constrained Pessimistic Policy Optimization (CPPO) which leverages a general function class and uses a constraint over the models to encode pessimism. Under the assumption that the ground truth model belongs to our function class (i.e., realizability in the function class), CPPO has a PAC guarantee with offline data only providing partial coverage, i.e., it can learn a policy that competes against any policy covered by the offline data. We then demonstrate that this algorithmic framework can be applied to many specialized Markov Decision Processes where the additional structural assumptions can further refine the concept of partial coverage. Two notable examples are: (1) low- rank MDP with representation learning where the partial coverage condition is defined using a relative condition number measured by the unknown ground truth feature representation; (2) factored MDP where the partial coverage condition is defined using density-ratio based concentrability coefficients associated with individual factors.

Diverse Client Selection for Federated Learning via Submodular Maximization

Ravikumar Balakrishnan · Tian Li · Tianyi Zhou · Nageen Himayat · Virginia Smith · Jeff Bilmes

In every communication round of federated learning, a random subset of clients communicate their model updates back to the server which then aggregates them all. The optimal size of this subset is not known and several studies have shown that typically random selection does not perform very well in terms of convergence, learning efficiency and fairness. We, in this paper, propose to select a small diverse subset of clients, namely those carrying representative gradient information, and we transmit only these updates to the server. Our aim is for updating via only a subset to approximate updating via aggregating all client information. We achieve this by choosing a subset that maximizes a submodular facility location function defined over gradient space. We introduce “federated averaging with diverse client selection (DivFL)”. We provide a thorough analysis of its convergence in the heterogeneous setting and apply it both to synthetic and to real datasets. Empirical results show several benefits to our approach including improved learning efficiency, faster convergence and also more uniform (i.e., fair) performance across clients. We further show a communication-efficient version of DivFL that can still outperform baselines on the above metrics.

On Improving Adversarial Transferability of Vision Transformers

Muzammal Naseer · Kanchana Ranasinghe · Salman Khan · Fahad Khan · Fatih Porikli

Vision transformers (ViTs) process input images as sequences of patches via self-attention; a radically different architecture than convolutional neural networks (CNNs). This makes it interesting to study the adversarial feature space of ViT models and their transferability. In particular, we observe that adversarial patterns found via conventional adversarial attacks show very \emph{low} black-box transferability even for large ViT models. We show that this phenomenon is only due to the sub-optimal attack procedures that do not leverage the true representation potential of ViTs. A deep ViT is composed of multiple blocks, with a consistent architecture comprising of self-attention and feed-forward layers, where each block is capable of independently producing a class token. Formulating an attack using only the last class token (conventional approach) does not directly leverage the discriminative information stored in the earlier tokens, leading to poor adversarial transferability of ViTs.Using the compositional nature of ViT models, we enhance transferability of existing attacks by introducing two novel strategies specific to the architecture of ViT models. \emph{(i) Self-Ensemble:} We propose a method to find multiple discriminative pathways by dissecting a single ViT model into an ensemble of networks. This allows explicitly utilizing class-specific information at each ViT block. \emph{(ii) Token Refinement:} We then propose to refine the tokens to further enhance the discriminative capacity at each block of ViT.Our token refinement systematically combines the class tokens with structural information preserved within the patch tokens. An adversarial attack when applied to such refined tokens within the ensemble of classifiers found in a single vision transformer has significantly higher transferability and thereby brings out the true generalization potential of the ViT's adversarial space. Code:

The Convex Geometry of Backpropagation: Neural Network Gradient Flows Converge to Extreme Points of the Dual Convex Program

Yifei Wang · Mert Pilanci

We study non-convex subgradient flows for training two-layer ReLU neural networks from a convex geometry and duality perspective. We characterize the implicit bias of unregularized non-convex gradient flow as convex regularization of an equivalent convex model. We then show that the limit points of non-convex subgradient flows can be identified via primal-dual correspondence in this convex optimization problem. Moreover, we derive a sufficient condition on the dual variables which ensures that the stationary points of the non-convex objective are the KKT points of the convex objective, thus proving convergence of non-convex gradient flows to the global optimum. For a class of regular training data distributions such as orthogonal separable data, we show that this sufficient condition holds. Therefore, non-convex gradient flows in fact converge to optimal solutions of a convex optimization problem. We present numerical results verifying the predictions of our theory for non-convex subgradient descent.

The Hidden Convex Optimization Landscape of Regularized Two-Layer ReLU Networks: an Exact Characterization of Optimal Solutions

Yifei Wang · Jonathan Lacotte · Mert Pilanci

We prove that finding all globally optimal two-layer ReLU neural networks can be performed by solving a convex optimization program with cone constraints. Our analysis is novel, characterizes all optimal solutions, and does not leverage duality-based analysis which was recently used to lift neural network training into convex spaces. Given the set of solutions of our convex optimization program, we show how to construct exactly the entire set of optimal neural networks. We provide a detailed characterization of this optimal set and its invariant transformations. As additional consequences of our convex perspective, (i) we establish that Clarke stationary points found by stochastic gradient descent correspond to the global optimum of a subsampled convex problem (ii) we provide a polynomial-time algorithm for checking if a neural network is a global minimum of the training loss (iii) we provide an explicit construction of a continuous path between any neural network and the global minimum of its sublevel set and (iv) characterize the minimal size of the hidden layer so that the neural network optimization landscape has no spurious valleys.Overall, we provide a rich framework for studying the landscape of neural network training loss through convexity.

CrowdPlay: Crowdsourcing Human Demonstrations for Offline Learning

Matthias Gerstgrasser · Rakshit Trivedi · David Parkes

Crowdsourcing has been instrumental for driving AI advances that rely on large-scale data. At the same time, reinforcement learning has seen rapid progress through benchmark environments that strike a balance between tractability and real-world complexity, such as ALE and OpenAI Gym. In this paper, we aim to fill a gap at the intersection of these two: The use of crowdsourcing to generate large-scale human demonstration data in the support of advancing research into imitation learning and offline learning.To this end, we present CrowdPlay, a complete crowdsourcing pipeline for any standard RL environment including OpenAI Gym (made available under an open-source license); a large-scale publicly available crowdsourced dataset of human gameplay demonstrations in Atari 2600 games, including multimodal behavior and human-human and human-AI multiagent data; offline learning benchmarks with extensive human data evaluation; and a detailed study of incentives, including real-time feedback to drive high quality data.We hope that this will drive the improvement in design of algorithms that account for the complexity of human, behavioral data and thereby enable a step forward in direction of effective learning for real-world settings. Our code and dataset are available at

Sequence Approximation using Feedforward Spiking Neural Network for Spatiotemporal Learning: Theory and Optimization Methods

Xueyuan She · Saurabh Dash · Saibal Mukhopadhyay

A dynamical system of spiking neurons with only feedforward connections can classify spatiotemporal patterns without recurrent connections. However, the theoretical construct of a feedforward spiking neural network (SNN) for approximating a temporal sequence remains unclear, making it challenging to optimize SNN architectures for learning complex spatiotemporal patterns. In this work, we establish a theoretical framework to understand and improve sequence approximation using a feedforward SNN. Our framework shows that a feedforward SNN with one neuron per layer and skip-layer connections can approximate the mapping function between any arbitrary pairs of input and output spike train on a compact domain. Moreover, we prove that heterogeneous neurons with varying dynamics and skip-layer connections improve sequence approximation using feedforward SNN. Consequently, we propose SNN architectures incorporating the preceding constructs that are trained using supervised backpropagation-through-time (BPTT) and unsupervised spiking-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) algorithms for classification of spatiotemporal data. A dual-search-space Bayesian optimization method is developed to optimize architecture and parameters of the proposed SNN with heterogeneous neuron dynamics and skip-layer connections.

Learning Representation from Neural Fisher Kernel with Low-rank Approximation

Ruixiang Zhang · Shuangfei Zhai · Etai Littwin · Joshua Susskind

In this paper, we study the representation of neural networks from the view of kernels. We first define the Neural Fisher Kernel (NFK), which is the Fisher Kernel applied to neural networks. We show that NFK can be computed for both supervised and unsupervised learning models, which can serve as a unified tool for representation extraction. Furthermore, we show that practical NFKs exhibit low-rank structures. We then propose an efficient algorithm that computes a low-rank approximation of NFK, which scales to large datasets and networks. We show that the low-rank approximation of NFKs derived from unsupervised generative models and supervised learning models gives rise to high-quality compact representations of data, achieving competitive results on a variety of machine learning tasks.

The Efficiency Misnomer

Mostafa Dehghani · Yi Tay · Anurag Arnab · Lucas Beyer · Ashish Vaswani

Model efficiency is a critical aspect of developing and deploying machine learning models. Inference time and latency directly affect the user experience, and some applications have hard requirements. In addition to inference costs, model training also have direct financial and environmental impacts.Although there are numerous well-established metrics (cost indicators) for measuring model efficiency, researchers and practitioners often assume that these metrics are correlated with each other and report only a few of them.In this paper, we thoroughly discuss common cost indicators, their advantages and disadvantages, and how they can contradict each other.We demonstrate how incomplete reporting of cost indicators can lead to partial conclusions and a blurred or incomplete picture of the practical considerations of different models. We further present suggestions to improve reporting of efficiency metrics.