Poster Session 11


Chat is not available.

Message Passing Neural PDE Solvers

Johannes Brandstetter · Daniel Worrall · Max Welling

The numerical solution of partial differential equations (PDEs) is difficult, having led to a century of research so far. Recently, there have been pushes to build neural--numerical hybrid solvers, which piggy-backs the modern trend towards fully end-to-end learned systems. Most works so far can only generalize over a subset of properties to which a generic solver would be faced, including: resolution, topology, geometry, boundary conditions, domain discretization regularity, dimensionality, etc. In this work, we build a solver, satisfying these properties, where all the components are based on neural message passing, replacing all heuristically designed components in the computation graph with backprop-optimized neural function approximators. We show that neural message passing solvers representationally contain some classical methods, such as finite differences, finite volumes, and WENO schemes. In order to encourage stability in training autoregressive models, we put forward a method that is based on the principle of zero-stability, posing stability as a domain adaptation problem. We validate our method on various fluid-like flow problems, demonstrating fast, stable, and accurate performance across different domain topologies, discretization, etc. in 1D and 2D. Our model outperforms state-of-the-art numerical solvers in the low resolution regime in terms of speed, and accuracy.

Unsupervised Learning of Full-Waveform Inversion: Connecting CNN and Partial Differential Equation in a Loop

Peng Jin · Xitong Zhang · Yinpeng Chen · Sharon Huang · Zicheng Liu · Youzuo Lin

This paper investigates unsupervised learning of Full-Waveform Inversion (FWI), which has been widely used in geophysics to estimate subsurface velocity maps from seismic data. This problem is mathematically formulated by a second order partial differential equation (PDE), but is hard to solve. Moreover, acquiring velocity map is extremely expensive, making it impractical to scale up a supervised approach to train the mapping from seismic data to velocity maps with convolutional neural networks (CNN).We address these difficulties by $\textit{integrating PDE and CNN in a loop}$, thus shifting the paradigm to unsupervised learning that only requires seismic data. In particular, we use finite difference to approximate the forward modeling of PDE as a differentiable operator (from velocity map to seismic data) and model its inversion by CNN (from seismic data to velocity map). Hence, we transform the supervised inversion task into an unsupervised seismic data reconstruction task. We also introduce a new large-scale dataset $\textit{OpenFWI}$, to establish a more challenging benchmark for the community. Experiment results show that our model (using seismic data alone) yields comparable accuracy to the supervised counterpart (using both seismic data and velocity map). Furthermore, it outperforms the supervised model when involving more seismic data.

Learning Curves for Gaussian Process Regression with Power-Law Priors and Targets

Hui Jin · Pradeep Kumar Banerjee · Guido Montufar

We characterize the power-law asymptotics of learning curves for Gaussian process regression (GPR) under the assumption that the eigenspectrum of the prior and the eigenexpansion coefficients of the target function follow a power law. Under similar assumptions, we leverage the equivalence between GPR and kernel ridge regression (KRR) to show the generalization error of KRR. Infinitely wide neural networks can be related to GPR with respect to the neural network GP kernel and the neural tangent kernel, which in several cases is known to have a power-law spectrum. Hence our methods can be applied to study the generalization error of infinitely wide neural networks. We present toy experiments demonstrating the theory.

Efficient Split-Mix Federated Learning for On-Demand and In-Situ Customization

Junyuan Hong · Haotao Wang · Zhangyang Wang · Jiayu Zhou

Federated learning (FL) provides a distributed learning framework for multiple participants to collaborate learning without sharing raw data. In many practical FL scenarios, participants have heterogeneous resources due to disparities in hardware and inference dynamics that require quickly loading models of different sizes and levels of robustness. The heterogeneity and dynamics together impose significant challenges to existing FL approaches and thus greatly limit FL's applicability. In this paper, we propose a novel Split-Mix FL strategy for heterogeneous participants that, once training is done, provides in-situ customization of model sizes and robustness. Specifically, we achieve customization by learning a set of base sub-networks of different sizes and robustness levels, which are later aggregated on-demand according to inference requirements. This split-mix strategy achieves customization with high efficiency in communication, storage, and inference. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our method provides better in-situ customization than the existing heterogeneous-architecture FL methods. Codes and pre-trained models are available:

Multi-Stage Episodic Control for Strategic Exploration in Text Games

Jens Tuyls · Shunyu Yao · Sham M Kakade · Karthik Narasimhan

Text adventure games present unique challenges to reinforcement learning methods due to their combinatorially large action spaces and sparse rewards. The interplay of these two factors is particularly demanding because large action spaces require extensive exploration, while sparse rewards provide limited feedback. This work proposes to tackle the explore-vs-exploit dilemma using a multi-stage approach that explicitly disentangles these two strategies within each episode. Our algorithm, called eXploit-Then-eXplore (XTX), begins each episode using an exploitation policy that imitates a set of promising trajectories from the past, and then switches over to an exploration policy aimed at discovering novel actions that lead to unseen state spaces. This policy decomposition allows us to combine global decisions about which parts of the game space to return to with curiosity-based local exploration in that space, motivated by how a human may approach these games. Our method significantly outperforms prior approaches by 27% and 11% average normalized score over 12 games from the Jericho benchmark (Hausknecht et al., 2020) in both deterministic and stochastic settings, respectively. On the game of Zork1, in particular, XTX obtains a score of 103, more than a 2x improvement over prior methods, and pushes past several known bottlenecks in the game that have plagued previous state-of-the-art methods.

Bag of Instances Aggregation Boosts Self-supervised Distillation

Haohang Xu · Jiemin Fang · XIAOPENG ZHANG · Lingxi Xie · Xinggang Wang · Wenrui Dai · Hongkai Xiong · Qi Tian

Recent advances in self-supervised learning have experienced remarkable progress, especially for contrastive learning based methods, which regard each image as well as its augmentations as an individual class and try to distinguish them from all other images. However, due to the large quantity of exemplars, this kind of pretext task intrinsically suffers from slow convergence and is hard for optimization. This is especially true for small-scale models, in which we find the performance drops dramatically comparing with its supervised counterpart. In this paper, we propose a simple but effective distillation strategy for unsupervised learning. The highlight is that the relationship among similar samples counts and can be seamlessly transferred to the student to boost the performance. Our method, termed as BINGO, which is short for Bag of InstaNces aGgregatiOn, targets at transferring the relationship learned by the teacher to the student. Here bag of instances indicates a set of similar samples constructed by the teacher and are grouped within a bag, and the goal of distillation is to aggregate compact representations over the student with respect to instances in a bag. Notably, BINGO achieves new state-of-the-art performance on small-scale models, i.e., 65.5% and 68.9% top-1 accuracies with linear evaluation on ImageNet, using ResNet-18 and ResNet-34 as the backbones respectively, surpassing baselines (52.5% and 57.4% top-1 accuracies) by a significant margin. The code is available at

Geometric and Physical Quantities improve E(3) Equivariant Message Passing

Johannes Brandstetter · Rob Hesselink · Elise van der Pol · Erik Bekkers · Max Welling

Including covariant information, such as position, force, velocity or spin is important in many tasks in computational physics and chemistry. We introduce Steerable E($3$) Equivariant Graph Neural Networks (SEGNNs) that generalise equivariant graph networks, such that node and edge attributes are not restricted to invariant scalars, but can contain covariant information, such as vectors or tensors. Our model, composed of steerable MLPs, is able to incorporate geometric and physical information in both the message and update functions.Through the definition of steerable node attributes, the MLPs provide a new class of activation functions for general use with steerable feature fields. We discuss ours and related work through the lens of equivariant non-linear convolutions, which further allows us to pin-point the successful components of SEGNNs: non-linear message aggregation improves upon classic linear (steerable) point convolutions; steerable messages improve upon recent equivariant graph networks that send invariant messages. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on several tasks in computational physics and chemistry and provide extensive ablation studies.

Fine-grained Differentiable Physics: A Yarn-level Model for Fabrics

Deshan Gong · Zhanxing Zhu · Andrew Bulpitt · He Wang

Differentiable physics modeling combines physics models with gradient-based learning to provide model explicability and data efficiency. It has been used to learn dynamics, solve inverse problems and facilitate design, and is at its inception of impact. Current successes have concentrated on general physics models such as rigid bodies, deformable sheets, etc, assuming relatively simple structures and forces. Their granularity is intrinsically coarse and therefore incapable of modelling complex physical phenomena. Fine-grained models are still to be developed to incorporate sophisticated material structures and force interactions with gradient-based learning. Following this motivation, we propose a new differentiable fabrics model for composite materials such as cloths, where we dive into the granularity of yarns and model individual yarn physics and yarn-to-yarn interactions. To this end, we propose several differentiable forces, whose counterparts in empirical physics are indifferentiable, to facilitate gradient-based learning. These forces, albeit applied to cloths, are ubiquitous in various physical systems. Through comprehensive evaluation and comparison, we demonstrate our model's $\textit{explicability}$ in learning meaningful physical parameters, $\textit{versatility}$ in incorporating complex physical structures and heterogeneous materials, $\textit{data-efficiency}$ in learning, and $\textit{high-fidelity}$ in capturing subtle dynamics.

Non-Linear Operator Approximations for Initial Value Problems

Gaurav Gupta · Xiongye Xiao · Radu Balan · Paul Bogdan

Time-evolution of partial differential equations is the key to model several dynamical processes, events forecasting but the operators associated with such problems are non-linear. We propose a Padé approximation based exponential neural operator scheme for efficiently learning the map between a given initial condition and activities at a later time. The multiwavelets bases are used for space discretization. By explicitly embedding the exponential operators in the model, we reduce the training parameters and make it more data-efficient which is essential in dealing with scarce real-world datasets. The Padé exponential operator uses a $\textit{recurrent structure with shared parameters}$ to model the non-linearity compared to recent neural operators that rely on using multiple linear operator layers in succession. We show theoretically that the gradients associated with the recurrent Padé network are bounded across the recurrent horizon. We perform experiments on non-linear systems such as Korteweg-de Vries (KdV) and Kuramoto–Sivashinsky (KS) equations to show that the proposed approach achieves the best performance and at the same time is data-efficient. We also show that urgent real-world problems like Epidemic forecasting (for example, COVID-19) can be formulated as a 2D time-varying operator problem. The proposed Padé exponential operators yield better prediction results ($\textbf{53\%} (\textbf{52\%})$ better MAE than best neural operator (non-neural operator deep learning model)) compared to state-of-the-art forecasting models.

Energy-Inspired Molecular Conformation Optimization

Jiaqi Guan · Wei Qian · Qiang Liu · Wei-Ying Ma · Jianzhu Ma · Jian Peng

This paper studies an important problem in computational chemistry: predicting a molecule's spatial atom arrangements, or a molecular conformation. We propose a neural energy minimization formulation that casts the prediction problem into an unrolled optimization process, where a neural network is parametrized to learn the gradient fields of an implicit conformational energy landscape. Assuming different forms of the underlying potential energy function, we can not only reinterpret and unify many of the existing models but also derive new variants of SE(3)-equivariant neural networks in a principled manner. In our experiments, these new variants show superior performance in molecular conformation optimization comparing to existing SE(3)-equivariant neural networks. Moreover, our energy-inspired formulation is also suitable for molecular conformation generation, where we can generate more diverse and accurate conformers comparing to existing baselines.

TRAIL: Near-Optimal Imitation Learning with Suboptimal Data

Sherry Yang · Sergey Levine · Ofir Nachum

In imitation learning, one aims to learn task-solving policies using access to near-optimal expert trajectories collected from the task environment. However, high-quality trajectories -- e.g., from human experts -- can be expensive to obtain in practical settings. On the contrary, it is often much easier to obtain large amounts of suboptimal trajectories which can nevertheless provide insight into the structure of the environment, showing what \emph{could} be done in the environment even if not what \emph{should} be done. Is it possible to formalize these conceptual benefits and devise algorithms to use offline datasets to yield \emph{provable} improvements to the sample-efficiency of imitation learning? In this work, we answer this question affirmatively and present training objectives which use an offline dataset to learn an approximate \emph{factored} dynamics model whose structure enables the extraction of a \emph{latent action space}. Our theoretical analysis shows that the learned latent action space can boost the sample-efficiency of downstream imitation learning, effectively reducing the need for large near-optimal expert datasets through the use of auxiliary non-expert data. We evaluate the practicality of our objective through experiments on a set of navigation and locomotion tasks. Our results verify the benefits suggested by our theory and show that our algorithms is able to recover near-optimal policies with fewer expert trajectories.

IFR-Explore: Learning Inter-object Functional Relationships in 3D Indoor Scenes

QI LI · Kaichun Mo · Yanchao Yang · Hang Zhao · Leonidas Guibas

Building embodied intelligent agents that can interact with 3D indoor environments has received increasing research attention in recent years. While most works focus on single-object or agent-object visual functionality and affordances, our work proposes to study a novel, underexplored, kind of visual relations that is also important to perceive and model -- inter-object functional relationships (e.g., a switch on the wall turns on or off the light, a remote control operates the TV). Humans often spend no effort or only a little to infer these relationships, even when entering a new room, by using our strong prior knowledge (e.g., we know that buttons control electrical devices) or using only a few exploratory interactions in cases of uncertainty (e.g., multiple switches and lights in the same room). In this paper, we take the first step in building AI system learning inter-object functional relationships in 3D indoor environments with key technical contributions of modeling prior knowledge by training over large-scale scenes and designing interactive policies for effectively exploring the training scenes and quickly adapting to novel test scenes. We create a new dataset based on the AI2Thor and PartNet datasets and perform extensive experiments that prove the effectiveness of our proposed method.

Sparse Communication via Mixed Distributions

António Farinhas · Wilker Aziz · Vlad Niculae · Andre Martins

Neural networks and other machine learning models compute continuous representations, while humans communicate mostly through discrete symbols. Reconciling these two forms of communication is desirable for generating human-readable interpretations or learning discrete latent variable models, while maintaining end-to-end differentiability. Some existing approaches (such as the Gumbel-Softmax transformation) build continuous relaxations that are discrete approximations in the zero-temperature limit, while others (such as sparsemax transformations and the Hard Concrete distribution) produce discrete/continuous hybrids. In this paper, we build rigorous theoretical foundations for these hybrids, which we call "mixed random variables.'' Our starting point is a new "direct sum'' base measure defined on the face lattice of the probability simplex. From this measure, we introduce new entropy and Kullback-Leibler divergence functions that subsume the discrete and differential cases and have interpretations in terms of code optimality. Our framework suggests two strategies for representing and sampling mixed random variables, an extrinsic ("sample-and-project'’) and an intrinsic one (based on face stratification). We experiment with both approaches on an emergent communication benchmark and on modeling MNIST and Fashion-MNIST data with variational auto-encoders with mixed latent variables.

Imitation Learning from Observations under Transition Model Disparity

Tanmay Gangwani · Yuan Zhou · Jian Peng

Learning to perform tasks by leveraging a dataset of expert observations, also known as imitation learning from observations (ILO), is an important paradigm for learning skills without access to the expert reward function or the expert actions. We consider ILO in the setting where the expert and the learner agents operate in different environments, with the source of the discrepancy being the transition dynamics model. Recent methods for scalable ILO utilize adversarial learning to match the state-transition distributions of the expert and the learner, an approach that becomes challenging when the dynamics are dissimilar. In this work, we propose an algorithm that trains an intermediary policy in the learner environment and uses it as a surrogate expert for the learner. The intermediary policy is learned such that the state transitions generated by it are close to the state transitions in the expert dataset. To derive a practical and scalable algorithm, we employ concepts from prior work on estimating the support of a probability distribution. Experiments using MuJoCo locomotion tasks highlight that our method compares favorably to the baselines for ILO with transition dynamics mismatch.

Hindsight: Posterior-guided training of retrievers for improved open-ended generation

Ashwin Paranjape · Omar Khattab · Christopher Potts · Peter Bailis · Christopher Manning

Many text generation systems benefit from retrieving passages from a textual knowledge corpus (e.g., Wikipedia) and using them to generate the output. For open-ended generation tasks, like generating informative utterances in conversations, many varied passages $z$ are relevant to the context $x$ but few are relevant to the observed next utterance $y$ (label). For such tasks, existing methods (that jointly train the retriever and generator) underperform: during training the top-k context-relevant retrieved passages might not contain the label-relevant passage and the generator may hence not learn a preference to ground its generated output in them. We propose using an additional guide-retriever that also conditions on the observed label $y$ and “in hindsight” retrieves label-relevant passages during training. We maximize the evidence lower bound (ELBo) to jointly train the guide-retriever $Q(z|x,y)$ with the standard retriever $P_\eta(z|x)$ and the generator $P_\theta(y|x,z)$ and find that ELBo has better inductive biases than prior work. For informative conversations from the Wizard of Wikipedia dataset, with our posterior-guided training, the retriever finds passages with higher relevance in the top-10 (23% relative improvement), the generator’s responses are more grounded in the retrieved passage (19% relative improvement) and the end-to-end system produces better overall output (6.4% relative improvement).

Learning Object-Oriented Dynamics for Planning from Text

Guiliang Liu · Ashutosh Adhikari · Amir-massoud Farahmand · Pascal Poupart

The advancement of dynamics models enables model-based planning in complex environments. Existing dynamics models commonly study image-based games with fully observable states. Generalizing these models to Text-Based Games (TBGs), which commonly describe the partially observable states with noisy text observations, is challenging. In this work, we propose an Object-Oriented Text Dynamics (OOTD) model that enables planning algorithms to solve decision-making problems in text domains. OOTD predicts a memory graph that dynamically remembers the history of object observations and filters object-irrelevant information. To facilitate the robustness of dynamics, our OOTD model identifies the objects influenced by input actions and predicts the belief of object states with independently parameterized transition layers. We develop variational objectives under the object-supervised and self-supervised settings to model the stochasticity of predicted dynamics. Empirical results show OOTD-based planner significantly outperforms model-free baselines in terms of sample efficiency and running scores.

Attention-based Interpretability with Concept Transformers

Mattia Rigotti · Christoph Miksovic · Ioana Giurgiu · Thomas Gschwind · Paolo Scotton

Attention is a mechanism that has been instrumental in driving remarkable performance gains of deep neural network models in a host of visual, NLP and multimodal tasks.One additional notable aspect of attention is that it conveniently exposes the ``reasoning'' behind each particular output generated by the model.Specifically, attention scores over input regions or intermediate features have been interpreted as a measure of the contribution of the attended element to the model inference.While the debate in regard to the interpretability of attention is still not settled, researchers have pointed out the existence of architectures and scenarios that afford a meaningful interpretation of the attention mechanism.Here we propose the generalization of attention from low-level input features to high-level concepts as a mechanism to ensure the interpretability of attention scores within a given application domain.In particular, we design the ConceptTransformer, a deep learning module that exposes explanations of the output of a model in which it is embedded in terms of attention over user-defined high-level concepts.Such explanations are \emph{plausible} (i.e.\ convincing to the human user) and \emph{faithful} (i.e.\ truly reflective of the reasoning process of the model).Plausibility of such explanations is obtained by construction by training the attention heads to conform with known relations between inputs, concepts and outputs dictated by domain knowledge.Faithfulness is achieved by design by enforcing a linear relation between the transformer value vectors that represent the concepts and their contribution to the classification log-probabilities.We validate our ConceptTransformer module on established explainability benchmarks and show how it can be used to infuse domain knowledge into classifiers to improve accuracy, and conversely to extract concept-based explanations of classification outputs. Code to reproduce our results is available at: \url{}.

Asymmetry Learning for Counterfactually-invariant Classification in OOD Tasks

S Chandra Mouli · Bruno Ribeiro

Generalizing from observed to new related environments (out-of-distribution) is central to the reliability of classifiers. However, most classifiers fail to predict label $Y$ from input $X$ when the change in environment is due a (stochastic) input transformation $T^\text{te} \circ X'$ not observed in training, as in training we observe $T^\text{tr} \circ X'$, where $X'$ is a hidden variable. This work argues that when the transformations in train $T^\text{tr}$ and test $T^\text{te}$ are (arbitrary) symmetry transformations induced by a collection of known $m$ equivalence relations, the task of finding a robust OOD classifier can be defined as finding the simplest causal model that defines a causal connection between the target labels and the symmetry transformations that are associated with label changes. We then propose a new learning paradigm, asymmetry learning, that identifies which symmetries the classifier must break in order to correctly predict $Y$ in both train and test. Asymmetry learning performs a causal model search that, under certain identifiability conditions, finds classifiers that perform equally well in-distribution and out-of-distribution. Finally, we show how to learn counterfactually-invariant representations with asymmetry learning in two physics tasks.

A Loss Curvature Perspective on Training Instabilities of Deep Learning Models

Justin Gilmer · Behrooz Ghorbani · Ankush Garg · Sneha Kudugunta · Behnam Neyshabur · David Cardoze · George Dahl · Zachary Nado · Orhan Firat

In this work, we study the evolution of the loss Hessian across many classification tasks in order to understand the effect the curvature of the loss has on the training dynamics. Whereas prior work has focused on how different learning rates affect the loss Hessian observed during training, we also analyze the effects of model initialization, architectural choices, and common training heuristics such as gradient clipping and learning rate warmup. Our results demonstrate that successful model and hyperparameter choices allow the early optimization trajectory to either avoid---or navigate out of---regions of high curvature and into flatter regions that tolerate a higher learning rate. Our results suggest a unifying perspective on how disparate mitigation strategies for training instability ultimately address the same underlying failure mode of neural network optimization, namely poor conditioning. Inspired by the conditioning perspective, we show that learning rate warmup can improve training stability just as much as batch normalization, layer normalization, MetaInit, GradInit, and Fixup initialization.

Monotonic Differentiable Sorting Networks

Felix Petersen · Christian Borgelt · Hilde Kuehne · Oliver Deussen

Differentiable sorting algorithms allow training with sorting and ranking supervision, where only the ordering or ranking of samples is known. Various methods have been proposed to address this challenge, ranging from optimal transport-based differentiable Sinkhorn sorting algorithms to making classic sorting networks differentiable. One problem of current differentiable sorting methods is that they are non-monotonic. To address this issue, we propose a novel relaxation of conditional swap operations that guarantees monotonicity in differentiable sorting networks. We introduce a family of sigmoid functions and prove that they produce differentiable sorting networks that are monotonic. Monotonicity ensures that the gradients always have the correct sign, which is an advantage in gradient-based optimization. We demonstrate that monotonic differentiable sorting networks improve upon previous differentiable sorting methods.

Learning Curves for SGD on Structured Features

Blake Bordelon · Cengiz Pehlevan

The generalization performance of a machine learning algorithm such as a neural network depends in a non-trivial way on the structure of the data distribution. To analyze the influence of data structure on test loss dynamics, we study an exactly solveable model of stochastic gradient descent (SGD) on the square loss which predicts test error when training on features with arbitrary covariance structure. We solve the theory exactly for both Gaussian features and arbitrary features and we show that the simpler Gaussian model accurately predicts test loss of nonlinear random-feature models and neural networks in the kernel regime trained with SGD on real datasets such as MNIST and CIFAR-10. We show that the optimal batch size at a fixed compute budget is typically small and depends on the feature correlation structure, demonstrating the computational benefits of SGD with small batch sizes. Lastly, we extend our theory to the more usual setting of stochastic gradient descent on a fixed subsampled training set, showing that both training and test error can be accurately predicted in our framework on real data.

Domain Adversarial Training: A Game Perspective

David Acuna · Marc T Law · Guojun Zhang · Sanja Fidler

The dominant line of work in domain adaptation has focused on learning invariant representations using domain-adversarial training. In this paper, we interpret this approach from a game theoretical perspective. Defining optimal solutions in domain-adversarial training as a local Nash equilibrium, we show that gradient descent in domain-adversarial training can violate the asymptotic convergence guarantees of the optimizer, oftentimes hindering the transfer performance. Our analysis leads us to replace gradient descent with high-order ODE solvers (i.e., Runge–Kutta), for which we derive asymptotic convergence guarantees. This family of optimizers is significantly more stable and allows more aggressive learning rates, leading to high performance gains when used as a drop-in replacement over standard optimizers. Our experiments show that in conjunction with state-of-the-art domain-adversarial methods, we achieve up to 3.5% improvement with less than of half training iterations. Our optimizers are easy to implement, free of additional parameters, and can be plugged into any domain-adversarial framework.

Differentially Private Fractional Frequency Moments Estimation with Polylogarithmic Space

Lun Wang · Iosif Pinelis · Dawn Song

We prove that $\mathbb{F}_p$ sketch, a well-celebrated streaming algorithm for frequency moments estimation, is differentially private as is when $p\in(0, 1]$. $\mathbb{F}_p$ sketch uses only polylogarithmic space, exponentially better than existing DP baselines and only worse than the optimal non-private baseline by a logarithmic factor. The evaluation shows that $\mathbb{F}_p$ sketch can achieve reasonable accuracy with strong privacy guarantees. The code for evaluation is included in the supplementary material.

DriPP: Driven Point Processes to Model Stimuli Induced Patterns in M/EEG Signals

Cédric Allain · Alexandre Gramfort · Thomas Moreau

The quantitative analysis of non-invasive electrophysiology signals from electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) boils down to the identification of temporal patterns such as evoked responses, transient bursts of neural oscillations but also blinks or heartbeats for data cleaning. Several works have shown that these patterns can be extracted efficiently in an unsupervised way, e.g., using Convolutional Dictionary Learning. This leads to an event-based description of the data. Given these events, a natural question is to estimate how their occurrences are modulated by certain cognitive tasks and experimental manipulations. To address it, we propose a point process approach. While point processes have been used in neuroscience in the past, in particular for single cell recordings (spike trains), techniques such as Convolutional Dictionary Learning make them amenable to human studies based on EEG/MEG signals. We develop a novel statistical point process model – called driven temporal point processes (DriPP) – where the intensity function of the point process model is linked to a set of point processes corresponding to stimulation events. We derive a fast and principled expectation-maximization algorithm to estimate the parameters of this model. Simulations reveal that model parameters can be identified from long enough signals. Results on standard MEG datasets demonstrate that our methodology reveals event-related neural responses – both evoked and induced – and isolates non-task specific temporal patterns.

How Did the Model Change? Efficiently Assessing Machine Learning API Shifts

Lingjiao Chen · Peter Bailis · James Y Zou

ML prediction APIs from providers like Amazon and Google have made it simple to use ML in applications. A challenge for users is that such APIs continuously change over time as the providers update models, and changes can happen silently without users knowing. It is thus important to monitor when and how much the MLAPIs’ performance shifts. To provide detailed change assessment, we model MLAPI shifts as confusion matrix differences, and propose a principled algorithmic framework, MASA, to provably assess these shifts efficiently given a sample budget constraint.MASAemploys an upper-confidence bound based approach to adaptively determine on which data point to query the ML API to estimate shifts. Empirically, we observe significant ML API shifts from 2020 to 2021 among 12 out of 36 applications using commercial APIs from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and other providers. These real-world shifts include both improvements and reductions in accuracy. Extensive experiments show that MASA can estimate such API shifts more accurately than standard approaches given the same budget

Online Ad Hoc Teamwork under Partial Observability

Pengjie Gu · Mengchen Zhao · Jianye HAO · Bo An

Autonomous agents often need to work together as a team to accomplish complex cooperative tasks. Due to privacy and other realistic constraints, agents might need to collaborate with previously unknown teammates on the fly. This problem is known as ad hoc teamwork, which remains a core research challenge. Prior works usually rely heavily on strong assumptions like full observability, fixed and predefined teammates' types. This paper relaxes these assumptions with a novel reinforcement learning framework called ODITS, which allows the autonomous agent to adapt to arbitrary teammates in an online fashion. Instead of limiting teammates into a finite set of predefined types, ODITS automatically learns latent variables of teammates' behaviors to infer how to cooperate with new teammates effectively. To overcome partial observability, we introduce an information-based regularizer to derive proxy representations of the learned variables from local observations. Extensive experimental results show that ODITS significantly outperforms various baselines in widely used ad hoc teamwork tasks.

Compositional Attention: Disentangling Search and Retrieval

Sarthak Mittal · Sharath Chandra Raparthy · Irina Rish · Yoshua Bengio · Guillaume Lajoie

Multi-head, key-value attention is the backbone of transformer-like model architectures which have proven to be widely successful in recent years. This attention mechanism uses multiple parallel key-value attention blocks (called heads), each performing two fundamental computations: (1) search - selection of a relevant entity from a set via query-key interaction, and (2) retrieval - extraction of relevant features from the selected entity via a value matrix. Standard attention heads learn a rigid mapping between search and retrieval. In this work, we first highlight how this static nature of the pairing can potentially: (a) lead to learning of redundant parameters in certain tasks, and (b) hinder generalization. To alleviate this problem, we propose a novel attention mechanism, called Compositional Attention, that replaces the standard head structure. The proposed mechanism disentangles search and retrieval and composes them in a dynamic, flexible and context-dependent manner. Through a series of numerical experiments, we show that it outperforms standard multi-head attention on a variety of tasks, including some out-of-distribution settings. Through our qualitative analysis, we demonstrate that Compositional Attention leads to dynamic specialization based on the type of retrieval needed. Our proposed mechanism generalizes multi-head attention, allows independent scaling of search and retrieval and is easy to implement in a variety of established network architectures.

Boosting Randomized Smoothing with Variance Reduced Classifiers

Miklós Horváth · Mark N Müller · Marc Fischer · Martin Vechev

Randomized Smoothing (RS) is a promising method for obtaining robustness certificates by evaluating a base model under noise. In this work, we: (i) theoretically motivate why ensembles are a particularly suitable choice as base models for RS, and (ii) empirically confirm this choice, obtaining state-of-the-art results in multiple settings. The key insight of our work is that the reduced variance of ensembles over the perturbations introduced in RS leads to significantly more consistent classifications for a given input. This, in turn, leads to substantially increased certifiable radii for samples close to the decision boundary. Additionally, we introduce key optimizations which enable an up to 55-fold decrease in sample complexity of RS for predetermined radii, thus drastically reducing its computational overhead. Experimentally, we show that ensembles of only 3 to 10 classifiers consistently improve on their strongest constituting model with respect to their average certified radius (ACR) by 5% to 21% on both CIFAR10 and ImageNet, achieving a new state-of-the-art ACR of 0.86 and 1.11, respectively. We release all code and models required to reproduce our results at

Representation Learning for Online and Offline RL in Low-rank MDPs

Masatoshi Uehara · Xuezhou Zhang · Wen Sun

This work studies the question of Representation Learning in RL: how can we learn a compact low-dimensional representation such that on top of the representation we can perform RL procedures such as exploration and exploitation, in a sample efficient manner. We focus on the low-rank Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) where the transition dynamics correspond to a low-rank transition matrix. Unlike prior works that assume the representation is known (e.g., linear MDPs), here we need to learn the representation for the low-rank MDP. We study both the online RL and offline RL settings. For the online setting, operating with the same computational oracles used in FLAMBE (Agarwal, the state-of-art algorithm for learning representations in low-rank MDPs, we propose an algorithm REP-UCB Upper Confidence Bound driven Representation learning for RL), which significantly improves the sample complexity from $\widetilde{O}( A^9 d^7 / (\epsilon^{10} (1-\gamma)^{22}))$ for FLAMBE to $\widetilde{O}( A^4 d^4 / (\epsilon^2 (1-\gamma)^{2}) )$ with $d$ being the rank of the transition matrix (or dimension of the ground truth representation), $A$ being the number of actions, and $\gamma$ being the discounted factor. Notably, REP-UCB is simpler than FLAMBE, as it directly balances the interplay between representation learning, exploration, and exploitation, while FLAMBE is an explore-then-commit style approach and has to perform reward-free exploration step-by-step forward in time. For the offline RL setting, we develop an algorithm that leverages pessimism to learn under a partial coverage condition: our algorithm is able to compete against any policy as long as it is covered by the offline distribution.

On Bridging Generic and Personalized Federated Learning for Image Classification

Hong-You Chen · Wei-Lun Chao

Federated learning is promising for its capability to collaboratively train models with multiple clients without accessing their data, but vulnerable when clients' data distributions diverge from each other. This divergence further leads to a dilemma: "Should we prioritize the learned model's generic performance (for future use at the server) or its personalized performance (for each client)?" These two, seemingly competing goals have divided the community to focus on one or the other, yet in this paper we show that it is possible to approach both at the same time. Concretely, we propose a novel federated learning framework that explicitly decouples a model's dual duties with two prediction tasks. On the one hand, we introduce a family of losses that are robust to non-identical class distributions, enabling clients to train a generic predictor with a consistent objective across them. On the other hand, we formulate the personalized predictor as a lightweight adaptive module that is learned to minimize each client's empirical risk on top of the generic predictor. With this two-loss, two-predictor framework which we name Federated Robust Decoupling (Fed-RoD), the learned model can simultaneously achieve state-of-the-art generic and personalized performance, essentially bridging the two tasks.

Learning Altruistic Behaviours in Reinforcement Learning without External Rewards

Tim Franzmeyer · Mateusz Malinowski · Joao F. Henriques

Can artificial agents learn to assist others in achieving their goals without knowing what those goals are? Generic reinforcement learning agents could be trained to behave altruistically towards others by rewarding them for altruistic behaviour, i.e., rewarding them for benefiting other agents in a given situation. Such an approach assumes that other agents' goals are known so that the altruistic agent can cooperate in achieving those goals. However, explicit knowledge of other agents' goals is often difficult to acquire. In the case of human agents, their goals and preferences may be difficult to express fully; they might be ambiguous or even contradictory. Thus, it is beneficial to develop agents that do not depend on external supervision and learn altruistic behaviour in a task-agnostic manner. We propose to act altruistically towards other agents by giving them more choice and allowing them to achieve their goals better. Some concrete examples include opening a door for others or safeguarding them to pursue their objectives without interference. We formalize this concept and propose an altruistic agent that learns to increase the choices another agent has by preferring to maximize the number of states that the other agent can reach in its future. We evaluate our approach in three different multi-agent environments where another agent's success depends on altruistic behaviour. Finally, we show that our unsupervised agents can perform comparably to agents explicitly trained to work cooperatively, in some cases even outperforming them.

Bregman Gradient Policy Optimization

Feihu Huang · Shangqian Gao · Heng Huang

In the paper, we design a novel Bregman gradient policy optimization framework for reinforcement learning based on Bregman divergences and momentum techniques. Specifically, we propose a Bregman gradient policy optimization (BGPO) algorithm based on the basic momentum technique and mirror descent iteration. Meanwhile, we further propose an accelerated Bregman gradient policy optimization (VR-BGPO) algorithm based on the variance reduced technique. Moreover, we provide a convergence analysis framework for our Bregman gradient policy optimization under the nonconvex setting. We prove that our BGPO achieves a sample complexity of $O(\epsilon^{-4})$ for finding $\epsilon$-stationary policy only requiring one trajectory at each iteration, and our VR-BGPO reaches the best known sample complexity of $O(\epsilon^{-3})$, which also only requires one trajectory at each iteration. In particular, by using different Bregman divergences, our BGPO framework unifies many existing policy optimization algorithms such as the existing (variance reduced) policy gradient algorithms such as natural policy gradient algorithm. Extensive experimental results on multiple reinforcement learning tasks demonstrate the efficiency of our new algorithms.

Maximum Entropy RL (Provably) Solves Some Robust RL Problems

Benjamin Eysenbach · Sergey Levine

Many potential applications of reinforcement learning (RL) require guarantees that the agent will perform well in the face of disturbances to the dynamics or reward function. In this paper, we prove theoretically that maximum entropy (MaxEnt) RL maximizes a lower bound on a robust RL objective, and thus can be used to learn policies that are robust to some disturbances in the dynamics and the reward function. While this capability of MaxEnt RL has been observed empirically in prior work, to the best of our knowledge our work provides the first rigorous proof and theoretical characterization of the MaxEnt RL robust set. While a number of prior robust RL algorithms have been designed to handle similar disturbances to the reward function or dynamics, these methods typically require additional moving parts and hyperparameters on top of a base RL algorithm. In contrast, our results suggest that MaxEnt RL by itself is robust to certain disturbances, without requiring any additional modifications. While this does not imply that MaxEnt RL is the best available robust RL method, MaxEnt RL is a simple robust RL method with appealing formal guarantees.

Looking Back on Learned Experiences For Class/task Incremental Learning

Mozhgan Pourkeshavarz · Guoying Zhao · Mohammad Sabokrou

Classical deep neural networks are limited in their ability to learn from emerging streams of training data. When trained sequentially on new or evolving tasks, their performance degrades sharply, making them inappropriate in real-world use cases. Existing methods tackle it by either storing old data samples or only updating a parameter set of deep neural networks, which, however, demands a large memory budget or spoils the flexibility of models to learn the incremented task distribution. In this paper, we shed light on an on-call transfer set to provide past experiences whenever a new task arises in the data stream. In particular, we propose a Cost-Free Incremental Learning (CF-IL) not only to replay past experiences the model has learned but also to perform this in a cost free manner. Towards this end, we introduced a memory recovery paradigm in which we query the network to synthesize past exemplars whenever a new task emerges. Thus, our method needs no extra memory for data buffering or network growing, besides calls the proposed memory recovery paradigm to provide past exemplars, named a transfer set in order to mitigate catastrophically forgetting the former tasks in the Incremental Learning (IL) setup. Moreover, in contrast with recently proposed methods, the suggested paradigm does not desire a parallel architecture since it only relies on the learner network. Compared to the state-of-the-art data techniques without buffering past data samples, CF-IL demonstrates significantly better performance on the well-known datasets whether a task oracle is available in test time (Task-IL) or not (Class-IL).

An Agnostic Approach to Federated Learning with Class Imbalance

Zebang Shen · Juan Cervino · Hamed Hassani · Alejandro Ribeiro

Federated Learning (FL) has emerged as the tool of choice for training deep models over heterogeneous and decentralized datasets. As a reflection of the experiences from different clients, severe class imbalance issues are observed in real-world FL problems.Moreover, there exists a drastic mismatch between the imbalances from the local and global perspectives, i.e. a local majority class can be the minority of the population. Additionally, the privacy requirement of FL poses an extra challenge, as one should handle class imbalance without identifying the minority class. In this paper we propose a novel agnostic constrained learning formulation to tackle the class imbalance problem in FL, without requiring further information beyond the standard FL objective. A meta algorithm, CLIMB, is designed to solve the target optimization problem, with its convergence property analyzed under certain oracle assumptions. Through an extensive empirical study over various data heterogeneity and class imbalance configurations, we showcase that CLIMB considerably improves the performance in the minority class without compromising the overall accuracy of the classifier, which significantly outperforms previous arts. In fact, we observe the greatest performance boost in the most difficult scenario where every client only holds data from one class. The code can be found here

Axiomatic Explanations for Visual Search, Retrieval, and Similarity Learning

Mark Hamilton · Scott Lundberg · Stephanie Fu · Lei Zhang · William Freeman

Visual search, recommendation, and contrastive similarity learning power technologies that impact billions of users worldwide. Modern model architectures can be complex and difficult to interpret, and there are several competing techniques one can use to explain a search engine's behavior. We show that the theory of fair credit assignment provides a unique axiomatic solution that generalizes several existing recommendation- and metric-explainability techniques in the literature. Using this formalism, we show when existing approaches violate "fairness" and derive methods that sidestep these shortcomings and naturally handle counterfactual information. More specifically, we show existing approaches implicitly approximate second-order Shapley-Taylor indices and extend CAM, GradCAM, LIME, SHAP, SBSM, and other methods to search engines. These extensions can extract pairwise correspondences between images from trained opaque-box models. We also introduce a fast kernel-based method for estimating Shapley-Taylor indices that require orders of magnitude fewer function evaluations to converge. Finally, we show that these game-theoretic measures yield more consistent explanations for image similarity architectures.

Equivariant Self-Supervised Learning: Encouraging Equivariance in Representations

Rumen R Dangovski · Li Jing · Charlotte Loh · Seungwook Han · Akash Srivastava · Brian Cheung · Pulkit Agrawal · Marin Soljacic

In state-of-the-art self-supervised learning (SSL) pre-training produces semantically good representations by encouraging them to be invariant under meaningful transformations prescribed from human knowledge. In fact, the property of invariance is a trivial instance of a broader class called equivariance, which can be intuitively understood as the property that representations transform according to the way the inputs transform. Here, we show that rather than using only invariance, pre-training that encourages non-trivial equivariance to some transformations, while maintaining invariance to other transformations, can be used to improve the semantic quality of representations. Specifically, we extend popular SSL methods to a more general framework which we name Equivariant Self-Supervised Learning (E-SSL). In E-SSL, a simple additional pre-training objective encourages equivariance by predicting the transformations applied to the input. We demonstrate E-SSL’s effectiveness empirically on several popular computer vision benchmarks, e.g. improving SimCLR to 72.5% linear probe accuracy on ImageNet. Furthermore, we demonstrate usefulness of E-SSL for applications beyond computer vision; in particular, we show its utility on regression problems in photonics science. Our code, datasets and pre-trained models are available at to aid further research in E-SSL.

Local Feature Swapping for Generalization in Reinforcement Learning

David Bertoin · Emmanuel Rachelson

Over the past few years, the acceleration of computing resources and research in Deep Learning has led to significant practical successes in a range of tasks, including in particular in computer vision. Building on these advances, reinforcement learning has also seen a leap forward with the emergence of agents capable of making decisions directly from visual observations. Despite these successes, the over-parametrization of neural architectures leads to memorization of the data used during training and thus to a lack of generalization.Reinforcement learning agents based on visual inputs also suffer from this phenomenon by erroneously correlating rewards with unrelated visual features such as background elements. To alleviate this problem, we introduce a new regularization layer consisting of channel-consistent local permutations (CLOP) of the feature maps. The proposed permutations induce robustness to spatial correlations and help prevent overfitting behaviors in RL. We demonstrate, on the OpenAI Procgen Benchmark, that RL agents trained with the CLOP layer exhibit robustness to visual changes and better generalization properties than agents trained using other state-of-the-art regularization techniques.

Equivariant Subgraph Aggregation Networks

Beatrice Bevilacqua · Fabrizio Frasca · Derek Lim · Balasubramaniam Srinivasan · Chen Cai · GOPINATH BALAMURUGAN · Michael Bronstein · Haggai Maron

Message-passing neural networks (MPNNs) are the leading architecture for deep learning on graph-structured data, in large part due to their simplicity and scalability. Unfortunately, it was shown that these architectures are limited in their expressive power. This paper proposes a novel framework called Equivariant Subgraph Aggregation Networks (ESAN) to address this issue. Our main observation is that while two graphs may not be distinguishable by an MPNN, they often contain distinguishable subgraphs. Thus, we propose to represent each graph as a set of subgraphs derived by some predefined policy, and to process it using a suitable equivariant architecture. We develop novel variants of the 1-dimensional Weisfeiler-Leman (1-WL) test for graph isomorphism, and prove lower bounds on the expressiveness of ESAN in terms of these new WL variants. We further prove that our approach increases the expressive power of both MPNNs and more expressive architectures. Moreover, we provide theoretical results that describe how design choices such as the subgraph selection policy and equivariant neural architecture affect our architecture's expressive power. To deal with the increased computational cost, we propose a subgraph sampling scheme, which can be viewed as a stochastic version of our framework. A comprehensive set of experiments on real and synthetic datasets demonstrates that our framework improves the expressive power and overall performance of popular GNN architectures.

Learning-Augmented $k$-means Clustering

Jon Ergun · Zhili Feng · Sandeep Silwal · David Woodruff · Samson Zhou

$k$-means clustering is a well-studied problem due to its wide applicability. Unfortunately, there exist strong theoretical limits on the performance of any algorithm for the $k$-means problem on worst-case inputs. To overcome this barrier, we consider a scenario where ``advice'' is provided to help perform clustering. Specifically, we consider the $k$-means problem augmented with a predictor that, given any point, returns its cluster label in an approximately optimal clustering up to some, possibly adversarial, error. We present an algorithm whose performance improves along with the accuracy of the predictor, even though na\"{i}vely following the accurate predictor can still lead to a high clustering cost. Thus if the predictor is sufficiently accurate, we can retrieve a close to optimal clustering with nearly optimal runtime, breaking known computational barriers for algorithms that do not have access to such advice. We evaluate our algorithms on real datasets and show significant improvements in the quality of clustering.

Learning to Map for Active Semantic Goal Navigation

Georgios Georgakis · Bernadette Bucher · Karl Schmeckpeper · Siddharth Singh · Kostas Daniilidis

We consider the problem of object goal navigation in unseen environments. Solving this problem requires learning of contextual semantic priors, a challenging endeavour given the spatial and semantic variability of indoor environments. Current methods learn to implicitly encode these priors through goal-oriented navigation policy functions operating on spatial representations that are limited to the agent's observable areas. In this work, we propose a novel framework that actively learns to generate semantic maps outside the field of view of the agent and leverages the uncertainty over the semantic classes in the unobserved areas to decide on long term goals. We demonstrate that through this spatial prediction strategy, we are able to learn semantic priors in scenes that can be leveraged in unknown environments. Additionally, we show how different objectives can be defined by balancing exploration with exploitation during searching for semantic targets. Our method is validated in the visually realistic environments of the Matterport3D dataset and show improved results on object goal navigation over competitive baselines.

Query Embedding on Hyper-Relational Knowledge Graphs

Dimitrios Alivanistos · Max Berrendorf · Michael Cochez · Mikhail Galkin

Multi-hop logical reasoning is an established problem in the field of representation learning on knowledge graphs (KGs). It subsumes both one-hop link prediction as well as other more complex types of logical queries. Existing algorithms operate only on classical, triple-based graphs, whereas modern KGs often employ a hyper-relational modeling paradigm. In this paradigm, typed edges may have several key-value pairs known as qualifiers that provide fine-grained context for facts. In queries, this context modifies the meaning of relations, and usually reduces the answer set. Hyper-relational queries are often observed in real-world KG applications, and existing approaches for approximate query answering cannot make use of qualifier pairs. In this work, we bridge this gap and extend the multi-hop reasoning problem to hyper-relational KGs allowing to tackle this new type of complex queries. Building upon recent advancements in Graph Neural Networks and query embedding techniques, we study how to embed and answer hyper-relational conjunctive queries. Besides that, we propose a method to answer such queries and demonstrate in our experiments that qualifiers improve query answering on a diverse set of query patterns.

DiffSkill: Skill Abstraction from Differentiable Physics for Deformable Object Manipulations with Tools

Xingyu Lin · Zhiao Huang · Yunzhu Li · Joshua B Tenenbaum · David Held · Chuang Gan

We consider the problem of sequential robotic manipulation of deformable objects using tools.Previous works have shown that differentiable physics simulators provide gradients to the environment state and help trajectory optimization to converge orders of magnitude faster than model-free reinforcement learning algorithms for deformable object manipulation. However, such gradient-based trajectory optimization typically requires access to the full simulator states and can only solve short-horizon, single-skill tasks due to local optima. In this work, we propose a novel framework, named DiffSkill, that uses a differentiable physics simulator for skill abstraction to solve long-horizon deformable object manipulation tasks from sensory observations. In particular, we first obtain short-horizon skills using individual tools from a gradient-based optimizer, using the full state information in a differentiable simulator; we then learn a neural skill abstractor from the demonstration trajectories which takes RGBD images as input. Finally, we plan over the skills by finding the intermediate goals and then solve long-horizon tasks. We show the advantages of our method in a new set of sequential deformable object manipulation tasks compared to previous reinforcement learning algorithms and compared to the trajectory optimizer.

Information Bottleneck: Exact Analysis of (Quantized) Neural Networks

Stephan Lorenzen · Christian Igel · Mads Nielsen

The information bottleneck (IB) principle has been suggested as a way to analyze deep neural networks. The learning dynamics are studied by inspecting the mutual information (MI) between the hidden layers and the input and output. Notably, separate fitting and compression phases during training have been reported. This led to some controversy including claims that the observations are not reproducible and strongly dependent on the type of activation function used as well as on the way the MI is estimated. Our study confirms that different ways of binning when computing the MI lead to qualitatively different results, either supporting or refusing IB conjectures.To resolve the controversy, we study the IB principle in settings where MI is non-trivial and can be computed exactly. We monitor the dynamics of quantized neural networks, that is, we discretize the whole deep learning system so that no approximation is required when computing the MI. This allows us to quantify the information flow without measurement errors. In this setting, we observed a fitting phase for all layers and a compression phase for the output layer in all experiments; the compression in the hidden layers was dependent on the type of activation function. Our study shows that the initial IB results were not artifacts of binning when computing the MI. However, the critical claim that the compression phase may not be observed for some networks also holds true.

Pix2seq: A Language Modeling Framework for Object Detection

Ting Chen · Saurabh Saxena · Lala Li · David Fleet · Geoffrey Hinton

We present Pix2Seq, a simple and generic framework for object detection. Unlike existing approaches that explicitly integrate prior knowledge about the task, we cast object detection as a language modeling task conditioned on the observed pixel inputs. Object descriptions (e.g., bounding boxes and class labels) are expressed as sequences of discrete tokens, and we train a neural network to perceive the image and generate the desired sequence. Our approach is based mainly on the intuition that if a neural network knows about where and what the objects are, we just need to teach it how to read them out. Beyond the use of task-specific data augmentations, our approach makes minimal assumptions about the task, yet it achieves competitive results on the challenging COCO dataset, compared to highly specialized and well optimized detection algorithms.

Hidden Convexity of Wasserstein GANs: Interpretable Generative Models with Closed-Form Solutions

Arda Sahiner · Tolga Ergen · Batu Ozturkler · Burak Bartan · John M Pauly · Morteza Mardani · Mert Pilanci

Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) are commonly used for modeling complex distributions of data. Both the generators and discriminators of GANs are often modeled by neural networks, posing a non-transparent optimization problem which is non-convex and non-concave over the generator and discriminator, respectively. Such networks are often heuristically optimized with gradient descent-ascent (GDA), but it is unclear whether the optimization problem contains any saddle points, or whether heuristic methods can find them in practice. In this work, we analyze the training of Wasserstein GANs with two-layer neural network discriminators through the lens of convex duality, and for a variety of generators expose the conditions under which Wasserstein GANs can be solved exactly with convex optimization approaches, or can be represented as convex-concave games. Using this convex duality interpretation, we further demonstrate the impact of different activation functions of the discriminator. Our observations are verified with numerical results demonstrating the power of the convex interpretation, with an application in progressive training of convex architectures corresponding to linear generators and quadratic-activation discriminators for CelebA image generation. The code for our experiments is available at

GiraffeDet: A Heavy-Neck Paradigm for Object Detection

yiqi jiang · Zhiyu Tan · Junyan Wang · Xiuyu Sun · Ming Lin · Li Hao

In conventional object detection frameworks, a backbone body inherited from image recognition models extracts deep latent features and then a neck module fuses these latent features to capture information at different scales. As the resolution in object detection is much larger than in image recognition, the computational cost of the backbone often dominates the total inference cost. This heavy-backbone design paradigm is mostly due to the historical legacy when transferring image recognition models to object detection rather than an end-to-end optimized design for object detection. In this work, we show that such paradigm indeed leads to sub-optimal object detection models. To this end, we propose a novel heavy-neck paradigm, GiraffeDet, a giraffe-like network for efficient object detection. The GiraffeDet uses an extremely lightweight backbone and a very deep and large neck module which encourages dense information exchange among different spatial scales as well as different levels of latent semantics simultaneously. This design paradigm allows detectors to process the high-level semantic information and low-level spatial information at the same priority even in the early stage of the network, making it more effective in detection tasks. Numerical evaluations on multiple popular object detection benchmarks show that GiraffeDet consistently outperforms previous SOTA models across a wide spectrum of resource constraints. The source code is available at

Unsupervised Semantic Segmentation by Distilling Feature Correspondences

Mark Hamilton · Zhoutong Zhang · Bharath Hariharan · Noah Snavely · William Freeman

Unsupervised semantic segmentation aims to discover and localize semantically meaningful categories within image corpora without any form of annotation. To solve this task, algorithms must produce features for every pixel that are both semantically meaningful and compact enough to form distinct clusters. Unlike previous works which achieve this with a single end-to-end framework, we propose to separate feature learning from cluster compactification. Empirically, we show that current unsupervised feature learning frameworks already generate dense features whose correlations are semantically consistent. This observation motivates us to design STEGO ($\textbf{S}$elf-supervised $\textbf{T}$ransformer with $\textbf{E}$nergy-based $\textbf{G}$raph $\textbf{O}$ptimization), a novel framework that distills unsupervised features into high-quality discrete semantic labels. At the core of STEGO is a novel contrastive loss function that encourages features to form compact clusters while preserving their association pattern. STEGO yields a significant improvement over the prior state of the art, on both the CocoStuff ($\textbf{+14 mIoU}$) and Cityscapes ($\textbf{+9 mIoU}$) semantic segmentation challenges.

Language model compression with weighted low-rank factorization

Yen-Chang Hsu · Ting Hua · Sung-En Chang · Qian Lou · Yilin Shen · Hongxia Jin

Factorizing a large matrix into small matrices is a popular strategy for model compression. Singular value decomposition (SVD) plays a vital role in this compression strategy, approximating a learned matrix with fewer parameters. However, SVD minimizes the squared error toward reconstructing the original matrix without gauging the importance of the parameters, potentially giving a larger reconstruction error for those who affect the task accuracy more. In other words, the optimization objective of SVD is not aligned with the trained model's task accuracy. We analyze this previously unexplored problem, make observations, and address it by introducing Fisher information to weigh the importance of parameters affecting the model prediction. This idea leads to our method: Fisher-Weighted SVD (FWSVD). Although the factorized matrices from our approach do not result in smaller reconstruction errors, we find that our resulting task accuracy is much closer to the original model's performance. We perform analysis with the transformer-based language models, showing our weighted SVD largely alleviates the mismatched optimization objectives and can maintain model performance with a higher compression rate. Our method can directly compress a task-specific model while achieving better performance than other compact model strategies requiring expensive model pre-training. Moreover, the evaluation of compressing an already compact model shows our method can further reduce 9% to 30% parameters with an insignificant impact on task accuracy.

Communication-Efficient Actor-Critic Methods for Homogeneous Markov Games

Dingyang Chen · Yile Li · Qi Zhang

Recent success in cooperative multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) relies on centralized training and policy sharing. Centralized training eliminates the issue of non-stationarity MARL yet induces large communication costs, and policy sharing is empirically crucial to efficient learning in certain tasks yet lacks theoretical justification. In this paper, we formally characterize a subclass of cooperative Markov games where agents exhibit a certain form of homogeneity such that policy sharing provably incurs no suboptimality. This enables us to develop the first consensus-based decentralized actor-critic method where the consensus update is applied to both the actors and the critics while ensuring convergence. We also develop practical algorithms based on our decentralized actor-critic method to reduce the communication cost during training, while still yielding policies comparable with centralized training.

Minimax Optimization with Smooth Algorithmic Adversaries

Tanner Fiez · Chi Jin · Praneeth Netrapalli · Lillian J Ratliff

This paper considers minimax optimization $\min_x \max_y f(x, y)$ in the challenging setting where $f$ can be both nonconvex in $x$ and nonconcave in $y$. Though such optimization problems arise in many machine learning paradigms including training generative adversarial networks (GANs) and adversarially robust models, from a theoretical point of view, two fundamental issues remain: (i) the absence of simple and efficiently computable optimality notions, and (ii) cyclic or diverging behavior of existing algorithms. This paper proposes a new theoretical framework for nonconvex-nonconcave minimax optimization that addresses both of the above issues. The starting point of this paper is the observation that, under a computational budget, the max-player can not fully maximize $f(x,\cdot)$ since nonconcave maximization is NP-hard in general. So, we propose a new framework, and a corresponding algorithm, for the min-player to play against \emph{smooth algorithms} deployed by the adversary (i.e., the max-player) instead of against full maximization. Our algorithm is guaranteed to make monotonic progress (thus having no limit cycles or diverging behavior), and to find an appropriate ``stationary point'' in a polynomial number of iterations. Our framework covers practically relevant settings where the smooth algorithms deployed by the adversary are multi-step stochastic gradient ascent, and its accelerated version. We further present experimental results that confirm our theoretical findings and demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach in practice on simple, conceptual settings.

ClimateGAN: Raising Climate Change Awareness by Generating Images of Floods

Victor Schmidt · Alexandra Luccioni · Mélisande Teng · Tianyu Zhang · Alexia Reynaud · Sunand Raghupathi · Gautier Cosne · Adrien Juraver · Vahe Vardanyan · Alex Hernandez-Garcia · Yoshua Bengio

Climate change is a major threat to humanity and the actions required to prevent its catastrophic consequences include changes in both policy-making and individual behaviour. However, taking action requires understanding its seemingly abstract and distant consequences. Projecting the potential impacts of extreme climate events such as flooding in familiar places can help make the impacts of climate change more concrete and encourage action. As part of a larger initiative to build a website ( that projects extreme climate events onto user-chosen photos, we present our solution to simulate photo-realistic floods on authentic images. To address this complex task in the absence of suitable data, we propose ClimateGAN, a model that leverages both simulated and real data through unsupervised domain adaptation and conditional image generation. In this paper, we describe the details of our framework, thoroughly evaluate the main components of our architecture and demonstrate that our model is capable of robustly generating photo-realistic flooding on street images.

On the Convergence of mSGD and AdaGrad for Stochastic Optimization

Ruinan Jin · Yu XING · Xingkang He

As one of the most fundamental stochastic optimization algorithms, stochastic gradient descent (SGD) has been intensively developed and extensively applied in machine learning in the past decade. There have been some modified SGD-type algorithms, which outperform the SGD in many competitions and applications in terms of convergence rate and accuracy, such as momentum-based SGD (mSGD) and adaptive gradient algorithm (AdaGrad). Despite these empirical successes, the theoretical properties of these algorithms have not been well established due to technical difficulties. With this motivation, we focus on convergence analysis of mSGD and AdaGrad for any smooth (possibly non-convex) loss functions in stochastic optimization. First, we prove that the iterates of mSGD are asymptotically convergent to a connected set of stationary points with probability one, which is more general than existing works on subsequence convergence or convergence of time averages. Moreover, we prove that the loss function of mSGD decays at a certain rate faster than that of SGD. In addition, we prove the iterates of AdaGrad are asymptotically convergent to a connected set of stationary points with probability one. Also, this result extends the results from the literature on subsequence convergence and the convergence of time averages. Despite the generality of the above convergence results, we have relaxed some assumptions of gradient noises, convexity of loss functions, as well as boundedness of iterates.

Divisive Feature Normalization Improves Image Recognition Performance in AlexNet

Michelle Miller · SueYeon Chung · Ken Miller

Local divisive normalization provides a phenomenological description of many nonlinear response properties of neurons across visual cortical areas. To gain insight into the utility of this operation, we studied the effects on AlexNet of a local divisive normalization between features, with learned parameters. Developing features were arranged in a line topology, with the influence between features determined by an exponential function of the distance between them. We compared an AlexNet model with no normalization or with canonical normalizations (Batch, Group, Layer) to the same models with divisive normalization added (before the canonical normalization, when those were used). The normalization was performed after the RELU in all five convolutional layers. Divisive normalization always improved performance for models with batch or group or no normalization, gen- erally by 1-2 percentage points, on both the CIFAR-100 and ImageNet databases. Divisive followed by batch normalization showed best performance. To gain in- sight into mechanisms underlying the improved performance, we examined several aspects of network representations. In the early layers both canonical and divisive normalizations reduced manifold capacities and increased average dimension of the individual categorical manifolds. In later layers the capacity was higher and manifold dimension lower for models roughly in order of their performance im- provement. We also use the Gini index, a measure of the inequality of a distribution, as a metric for sparsity of the distribution of activities within a given layer. Divisive normalization layers increase the Gini index (i.e. increase sparsity), whereas the other normalizations decrease the Gini index in their respective layers. Nonetheless, in the final layer, the sparseness of activity increases in the order of no normal- ization, divisive, combined, and canonical. We also investigate how the receptive fields (RFs) in the first convolutional layer (where RFs are most interpretable) change with normalization. Divisive normalization enhances RF Fourier power at low wavelengths, and divisive+canonical enhances power at mid (batch, group) or low (layer) wavelengths, compared to canonical alone or no normalization. In conclusion, divisive normalization enhances image recognition performance, most strongly when combined with canonical normalization, and in doing so it reduces manifold capacity and sparsity in early layers while increasing them in final layers, and increases low- or mid-wavelength power in the first-layer receptive fields.

CodeTrek: Flexible Modeling of Code using an Extensible Relational Representation

Pardis Pashakhanloo · Aaditya Naik · Yuepeng Wang · Hanjun Dai · Petros Maniatis · Mayur Naik

Designing a suitable representation for code-reasoning tasks is challenging in aspects such as the kinds of program information to model, how to combine them, and how much context to consider. We propose CodeTrek, a deep learning approach that addresses these challenges by representing codebases as databases that conform to rich relational schemas. The relational representation not only allows CodeTrek to uniformly represent diverse kinds of program information, but also to leverage program-analysis queries to derive new semantic relations, which can be readily incorporated without further architectural engineering. CodeTrek embeds this relational representation using a set of walks that can traverse different relations in an unconstrained fashion, and incorporates all relevant attributes along the way. We evaluate CodeTrek on four diverse and challenging Python tasks: variable misuse, exception prediction, unused definition, and variable shadowing. CodeTrek achieves an accuracy of 91%, 63%, 98%, and 94% on these tasks respectively, and outperforms state-of-the-art neural models by 2-19% points.

Mastering Visual Continuous Control: Improved Data-Augmented Reinforcement Learning

Denis Yarats · Rob Fergus · Alessandro Lazaric · Lerrel Pinto

We present DrQ-v2, a model-free reinforcement learning (RL) algorithm for visual continuous control. DrQ-v2 builds on DrQ, an off-policy actor-critic approach that uses data augmentation to learn directly from pixels. We introduce several improvements that yield state-of-the-art results on the DeepMind Control Suite. Notably, DrQ-v2 is able to solve complex humanoid locomotion tasks directly from pixel observations, previously unattained by model-free RL. DrQ-v2 is conceptually simple, easy to implement, and provides significantly better computational footprint compared to prior work, with the majority of tasks taking just 8 hours to train on a single GPU. Finally, we publicly release DrQ-v2 's implementation to provide RL practitioners with a strong and computationally efficient baseline.

A Zest of LIME: Towards Architecture-Independent Model Distances

Hengrui Jia · Hongyu Chen · Jonas Guan · Ali Shahin Shamsabadi · Nicolas Papernot

Definitions of the distance between two machine learning models either characterize the similarity of the models' predictions or of their weights. While similarity of weights is attractive because it implies similarity of predictions in the limit, it suffers from being inapplicable to comparing models with different architectures. On the other hand, the similarity of predictions is broadly applicable but depends heavily on the choice of model inputs during comparison. In this paper, we instead propose to compute distance between black-box models by comparing their Local Interpretable Model-Agnostic Explanations (LIME). To compare two models, we take a reference dataset, and locally approximate the models on each reference point with linear models trained by LIME. We then compute the cosine distance between the concatenated weights of the linear models. This yields an approach that is both architecture-independent and possesses the benefits of comparing models in weight space. We empirically show that our method, which we call Zest, can be applied to two problems that require measurements of model similarity: detecting model stealing and machine unlearning.

MIDI-DDSP: Detailed Control of Musical Performance via Hierarchical Modeling

Yusong Wu · Ethan Manilow · Yi Deng · Rigel Swavely · Kyle Kastner · Timotheus Cooijmans · Aaron Courville · Anna Huang · Jesse Engel

Musical expression requires control of both what notes that are played, and how they are performed. Conventional audio synthesizers provide detailed expressive controls, but at the cost of realism. Black-box neural audio synthesis and concatenative samplers can produce realistic audio, but have few mechanisms for control. In this work, we introduce MIDI-DDSP a hierarchical model of musical instruments that enables both realistic neural audio synthesis and detailed user control. Starting from interpretable Differentiable Digital Signal Processing (DDSP) synthesis parameters, we infer musical notes and high-level properties of their expressive performance (such as timbre, vibrato, dynamics, and articulation). This creates a 3-level hierarchy (notes, performance, synthesis) that affords individuals the option to intervene at each level, or utilize trained priors (performance given notes, synthesis given performance) for creative assistance. Through quantitative experiments and listening tests, we demonstrate that this hierarchy can reconstruct high-fidelity audio, accurately predict performance attributes for a note sequence, independently manipulate the attributes of a given performance, and as a complete system, generate realistic audio from a novel note sequence. By utilizing an interpretable hierarchy, with multiple levels of granularity, MIDI-DDSP opens the door to assistive tools to empower individuals across a diverse range of musical experience.

Low-Budget Active Learning via Wasserstein Distance: An Integer Programming Approach

Rafid Mahmood · Sanja Fidler · Marc T Law

Active learning is the process of training a model with limited labeled data by selecting a core subset of an unlabeled data pool to label. The large scale of data sets used in deep learning forces most sample selection strategies to employ efficient heuristics. This paper introduces an integer optimization problem for selecting a core set that minimizes the discrete Wasserstein distance from the unlabeled pool. We demonstrate that this problem can be tractably solved with a Generalized Benders Decomposition algorithm. Our strategy uses high-quality latent features that can be obtained by unsupervised learning on the unlabeled pool. Numerical results on several data sets show that our optimization approach is competitive with baselines and particularly outperforms them in the low budget regime where less than one percent of the data set is labeled.

Pareto Policy Adaptation

Panagiotis Kyriakis · Jyotirmoy Deshmukh · Paul Bogdan

We present a policy gradient method for Multi-Objective Reinforcement Learning under unknown, linear preferences. By enforcing Pareto stationarity, a first-order condition for Pareto optimality, we are able to design a simple policy gradient algorithm that approximates the Pareto front and infers the unknown preferences. Our method relies on a projected gradient descent solver that identifies common ascent directions for all objectives. Leveraging the solution of that solver, we introduce Pareto Policy Adaptation (PPA), a loss function that adapts the policy to be optimal with respect to any distribution over preferences. PPA uses implicit differentiation to back-propagate the loss gradient bypassing the operations of the projected gradient descent solver. Our approach is straightforward, easy to implement and can be used with all existing policy gradient and actor-critic methods. We evaluate our method in a series of reinforcement learning tasks

Unified Visual Transformer Compression

Shixing Yu · Tianlong Chen · Jiayi Shen · Huan Yuan · Jianchao Tan · Sen Yang · Ji Liu · Zhangyang Wang

Vision transformers (ViTs) have gained popularity recently. Even without customized image operators such as convolutions, ViTs can yield competitive performance when properly trained on massive data. However, the computational overhead of ViTs remains prohibitive, due to stacking multi-head self-attention modules and else. Compared to the vast literature and prevailing success in compressing convolutional neural networks, the study of Vision Transformer compression has also just emerged, and existing works focused on one or two aspects of compression. This paper proposes a unified ViT compression framework that seamlessly assembles three effective techniques: pruning, layer skipping, and knowledge distillation. We formulate a budget-constrained, end-to-end optimization framework, targeting jointly learning model weights, layer-wise pruning ratios/masks, and skip configurations, under a distillation loss. The optimization problem is then solved using the primal-dual algorithm. Experiments are conducted with several ViT variants, e.g. DeiT and T2T-ViT backbones on the ImageNet dataset, and our approach consistently outperforms recent competitors. For example, DeiT-Tiny can be trimmed down to 50\% of the original FLOPs almost without losing accuracy. Codes are available online:~\url{}.

Can an Image Classifier Suffice For Action Recognition?

Quanfu Fan · Chun-Fu (Richard) Chen · Rameswar Panda

We explore a new perspective on video understanding by casting the video recognition problem as an image recognition task. Our approach rearranges input video frames into super images, which allow for training an image classifier directly to fulfill the task of action recognition, in exactly the same way as image classification. With such a simple idea, we show that transformer-based image classifiers alone can suffice for action recognition. In particular, our approach demonstrates strong and promising performance against SOTA methods on several public datasets including Kinetics400, Moments In Time, Something-Something V2 (SSV2), Jester and Diving48. We also experiment with the prevalent ResNet image classifiers in computer vision to further validate our idea. The results on both Kinetics400 and SSV2 are comparable to some of the best-performed CNN approaches based on spatio-temporal modeling. Our source codes and models are available at \url{}.

On the relation between statistical learning and perceptual distances

Alexander Hepburn · Valero Laparra · Raul Santos-Rodriguez · Johannes Ballé · Jesus Malo

It has been demonstrated many times that the behavior of the human visual system is connected to the statistics of natural images. Since machine learning relies on the statistics of training data as well, the above connection has interesting implications when using perceptual distances (which mimic the behavior of the human visual system) as a loss function. In this paper, we aim to unravel the non-trivial relationships between the probability distribution of the data, perceptual distances, and unsupervised machine learning. To this end, we show that perceptual sensitivity is correlated with the probability of an image in its close neighborhood. We also explore the relation between distances induced by autoencoders and the probability distribution of the training data, as well as how these induced distances are correlated with human perception. Finally, we find perceptual distances do not always lead to noticeable gains in performance over Euclidean distance in common image processing tasks, except when data is scarce and the perceptual distance provides regularization. We propose this may be due to a double-counting effect of the image statistics, once in the perceptual distance and once in the training procedure.

Explanations of Black-Box Models based on Directional Feature Interactions

Aria Masoomi · Davin Hill · Zhonghui Xu · Craig Hersh · Edwin Silverman · Peter Castaldi · Stratis Ioannidis · Jennifer Dy

As machine learning algorithms are deployed ubiquitously to a variety of domains, it is imperative to make these often black-box models transparent. Several recent works explain black-box models by capturing the most influential features for prediction per instance; such explanation methods are univariate, as they characterize importance per feature. We extend univariate explanation to a higher-order; this enhances explainability, as bivariate methods can capture feature interactions in black-box models, represented as a directed graph. Analyzing this graph enables us to discover groups of features that are equally important (i.e., interchangeable), while the notion of directionality allows us to identify the most influential features. We apply our bivariate method on Shapley value explanations, and experimentally demonstrate the ability of directional explanations to discover feature interactions. We show the superiority of our method against state-of-the-art on CIFAR10, IMDB, Census, Divorce, Drug, and gene data.

An Operator Theoretic View On Pruning Deep Neural Networks

William Redman · Maria Fonoberova · Ryan Mohr · Yannis Kevrekidis · Igor Mezic

The discovery of sparse subnetworks that are able to perform as well as full models has found broad applied and theoretical interest. While many pruning methods have been developed to this end, the naïve approach of removing parameters based on their magnitude has been found to be as robust as more complex, state-of-the-art algorithms. The lack of theory behind magnitude pruning's success, especially pre-convergence, and its relation to other pruning methods, such as gradient based pruning, are outstanding open questions in the field that are in need of being addressed. We make use of recent advances in dynamical systems theory, namely Koopman operator theory, to define a new class of theoretically motivated pruning algorithms. We show that these algorithms can be equivalent to magnitude and gradient based pruning, unifying these seemingly disparate methods, and find that they can be used to shed light on magnitude pruning's performance during the early part of training.

Capacity of Group-invariant Linear Readouts from Equivariant Representations: How Many Objects can be Linearly Classified Under All Possible Views?

Matthew Farrell · Blake Bordelon · Shubhendu Trivedi · Cengiz Pehlevan

Equivariance has emerged as a desirable property of representations of objects subject to identity-preserving transformations that constitute a group, such as translations and rotations. However, the expressivity of a representation constrained by group equivariance is still not fully understood. We address this gap by providing a generalization of Cover's Function Counting Theorem that quantifies the number of linearly separable and group-invariant binary dichotomies that can be assigned to equivariant representations of objects. We find that the fraction of separable dichotomies is determined by the dimension of the space that is fixed by the group action. We show how this relation extends to operations such as convolutions, element-wise nonlinearities, and global and local pooling. While other operations do not change the fraction of separable dichotomies, local pooling decreases the fraction, despite being a highly nonlinear operation. Finally, we test our theory on intermediate representations of randomly initialized and fully trained convolutional neural networks and find perfect agreement.

Domino: Discovering Systematic Errors with Cross-Modal Embeddings

Sabri Eyuboglu · Maya Varma · Khaled Saab · Jean-Benoit Delbrouck · Christopher Lee-Messer · Jared Dunnmon · James Y Zou · Christopher Re

Machine learning models that achieve high overall accuracy often make systematic errors on important subsets (or slices) of data. Identifying underperforming slices is particularly challenging when working with high-dimensional inputs (e.g. images, audio), where important slices are often unlabeled. In order to address this issue, recent studies have proposed automated slice discovery methods (SDMs), which leverage learned model representations to mine input data for slices on which a model performs poorly. To be useful to a practitioner, these methods must identify slices that are both underperforming and coherent (i.e. united by a human-understandable concept). However, no quantitative evaluation framework currently exists for rigorously assessing SDMs with respect to these criteria. Additionally, prior qualitative evaluations have shown that SDMs often identify slices that are incoherent. In this work, we address these challenges by first designing a principled evaluation framework that enables a quantitative comparison of SDMs across 1,235 slice discovery settings in three input domains (natural images, medical images, and time-series data).Then, motivated by the recent development of powerful cross-modal representation learning approaches, we present Domino, an SDM that leverages cross-modal embeddings and a novel error-aware mixture model to discover and describe coherent slices. We find that Domino accurately identifies 36% of the 1,235 slices in our framework -- a 12 percentage point improvement over prior methods. Further, Domino is the first SDM that can provide natural language descriptions of identified slices, correctly generating the exact name of the slice in 35% of settings.

Optimization and Adaptive Generalization of Three layer Neural Networks

Khashayar Gatmiry · Stefanie Jegelka · Jonathan Kelner

While there has been substantial recent work studying generalization of neural networks, the ability of deep nets in automating the process of feature extraction still evades a thorough mathematical understanding. As a step toward this goal, we analyze learning and generalization of a three-layer neural network with ReLU activations in a regime that goes beyond the linear approximation of the network, and is hence not captured by the common Neural Tangent Kernel. We show that despite nonconvexity of the empirical loss, a variant of SGD converges in polynomially many iterations to a good solution that generalizes. In particular, our generalization bounds are adaptive: they automatically optimize over a family of kernels that includes the Neural Tangent Kernel, to provide the tightest bound.

VICReg: Variance-Invariance-Covariance Regularization for Self-Supervised Learning

Adrien Bardes · Jean Ponce · Yann LeCun

Recent self-supervised methods for image representation learning maximize the agreement between embedding vectors produced by encoders fed with different views of the same image. The main challenge is to prevent a collapse in which the encoders produce constant or non-informative vectors. We introduce VICReg (Variance-Invariance-Covariance Regularization), a method that explicitly avoids the collapse problem with two regularizations terms applied to both embeddings separately: (1) a term that maintains the variance of each embedding dimension above a threshold, (2) a term that decorrelates each pair of variables. Unlike most other approaches to the same problem, VICReg does not require techniques such as: weight sharing between the branches, batch normalization, feature-wise normalization, output quantization, stop gradient, memory banks, etc., and achieves results on par with the state of the art on several downstream tasks. In addition, we show that our variance regularization term stabilizes the training of other methods and leads to performance improvements.

Diffusion-Based Voice Conversion with Fast Maximum Likelihood Sampling Scheme

Vadim Popov · Ivan Vovk · Vladimir Gogoryan · Tasnima Sadekova · Mikhail Kudinov · Jiansheng Wei

Voice conversion is a common speech synthesis task which can be solved in different ways depending on a particular real-world scenario. The most challenging one often referred to as one-shot many-to-many voice conversion consists in copying target voice from only one reference utterance in the most general case when both source and target speakers do not belong to the training dataset. We present a scalable high-quality solution based on diffusion probabilistic modeling and demonstrate its superior quality compared to state-of-the-art one-shot voice conversion approaches. Moreover, focusing on real-time applications, we investigate general principles which can make diffusion models faster while keeping synthesis quality at a high level. As a result, we develop a novel Stochastic Differential Equations solver suitable for various diffusion model types and generative tasks as shown through empirical studies and justify it by theoretical analysis.

Graph-less Neural Networks: Teaching Old MLPs New Tricks Via Distillation

Shichang Zhang · Yozen Liu · Yizhou Sun · Neil Shah

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are popular for graph machine learning and have shown great results on wide node classification tasks. Yet, they are less popular for practical deployments in the industry owing to their scalability challenges incurred by data dependency. Namely, GNN inference depends on neighbor nodes multiple hops away from the target, and fetching them burdens latency-constrained applications. Existing inference acceleration methods like pruning and quantization can speed up GNNs by reducing Multiplication-and-ACcumulation (MAC) operations, but the improvements are limited given the data dependency is not resolved. Conversely, multi-layer perceptrons (MLPs) have no graph dependency and infer much faster than GNNs, even though they are less accurate than GNNs for node classification in general. Motivated by these complementary strengths and weaknesses, we bring GNNs and MLPs together via knowledge distillation (KD). Our work shows that the performance of MLPs can be improved by large margins with GNN KD. We call the distilled MLPs Graph-less Neural Networks (GLNNs) as they have no inference graph dependency. We show that GLNNs with competitive accuracy infer faster than GNNs by 146X-273X and faster than other acceleration methods by 14X-27X. Under a production setting involving both transductive and inductive predictions across 7 datasets, GLNN accuracies improve over stand-alone MLPs by 12.36% on average and match GNNs on 6/7 datasets. Comprehensive analysis shows when and why GLNNs can achieve competitive accuracies to GNNs and suggests GLNN as a handy choice for latency-constrained applications.

Demystifying Limited Adversarial Transferability in Automatic Speech Recognition Systems

Hadi Abdullah · Aditya Karlekar · Vincent Bindschaedler · Patrick Traynor

The targeted transferability of adversarial samples enables attackers to exploit black-box models in the real-world. The most popular method to produce these adversarial samples is optimization attacks, which have been shown to achieve a high level of transferability in some domains. However, recent research has demonstrated that these attack samples fail to transfer when applied to Automatic Speech Recognition Systems (ASRs). In this paper, we investigate factors preventing this transferability via exhaustive experimentation. To do so, we perform an ablation study on each stage of the ASR pipeline. We discover and quantify six factors (i.e., input type, MFCC, RNN, output type, and vocabulary and sequence sizes) that impact the targeted transferability of optimization attacks against ASRs. Future research can leverage our findings to build ASRs that are more robust to other transferable attack types (e.g., signal processing attacks), or to modify architectures in other domains to reduce their exposure to targeted transferability of optimization attacks.

Learning more skills through optimistic exploration

DJ Strouse · Kate Baumli · David Warde-Farley · Volodymyr Mnih · Steven Hansen

Unsupervised skill learning objectives (Eysenbach et al., 2019; Gregor et al., 2016) allow agents to learn rich repertoires of behavior in the absence of extrinsic rewards. They work by simultaneously training a policy to produce distinguishable latent-conditioned trajectories, and a discriminator to evaluate distinguishability by trying to infer latents from trajectories. The hope is for the agent to explore and master the environment by encouraging each skill (latent) to reliably reach different states. However, an inherent exploration problem lingers: when a novel state is actually encountered, the discriminator will necessarily not have seen enough training data to produce accurate and confident skill classifications, leading to low intrinsic reward for the agent and effective penalization of the sort of exploration needed to actually maximize the objective. To combat this inherent pessimism towards exploration, we derive an information gain auxiliary objective that involves training an ensemble of discriminators and rewarding the policy for their disagreement. Our objective directly estimates the epistemic uncertainty that comes from the discriminator not having seen enough training examples, thus providing an intrinsic reward more tailored to the true objective compared to pseudocount-based methods (Burda et al., 2019). We call this exploration bonus discriminator disagreement intrinsic reward, or DISDAIN. We demonstrate empirically that DISDAIN improves skill learning both in a tabular grid world (Four Rooms) and the 57 games of the Atari Suite (from pixels). Thus, we encourage researchers to treat pessimism with DISDAIN.

Conditional Object-Centric Learning from Video

Thomas Kipf · Gamaleldin Elsayed · Aravindh Mahendran · Austin Stone · Sara Sabour · Georg Heigold · Rico Jonschkowski · Alexey Dosovitskiy · Klaus Greff

Object-centric representations are a promising path toward more systematic generalization by providing flexible abstractions upon which compositional world models can be built. Recent work on simple 2D and 3D datasets has shown that models with object-centric inductive biases can learn to segment and represent meaningful objects from the statistical structure of the data alone without the need for any supervision. However, such fully-unsupervised methods still fail to scale to diverse realistic data, despite the use of increasingly complex inductive biases such as priors for the size of objects or the 3D geometry of the scene. In this paper, we instead take a weakly-supervised approach and focus on how 1) using the temporal dynamics of video data in the form of optical flow and 2) conditioning the model on simple object location cues can be used to enable segmenting and tracking objects in significantly more realistic synthetic data. We introduce a sequential extension to Slot Attention which we train to predict optical flow for realistic looking synthetic scenes and show that conditioning the initial state of this model on a small set of hints, such as center of mass of objects in the first frame, is sufficient to significantly improve instance segmentation. These benefits generalize beyond the training distribution to novel objects, novel backgrounds, and to longer video sequences. We also find that such initial-state-conditioning can be used during inference as a flexible interface to query the model for specific objects or parts of objects, which could pave the way for a range of weakly-supervised approaches and allow more effective interaction with trained models.

Autonomous Reinforcement Learning: Formalism and Benchmarking

Archit Sharma · Kelvin Xu · Nikhil Sardana · Abhishek Gupta · Karol Hausman · Sergey Levine · Chelsea Finn

Reinforcement learning (RL) provides a naturalistic framing for learning through trial and error, which is appealing both because of its simplicity and effectiveness and because of its resemblance to how humans and animals acquire skills through experience. However, real-world embodied learning, such as that performed by humans and animals, is situated in a continual, non-episodic world, whereas common benchmark tasks in RL are episodic, with the environment resetting between trials to provide the agent with multiple attempts. This discrepancy presents a major challenge when we attempt to take RL algorithms developed for episodic simulated environments and run them on real-world platforms, such as robots. In this paper, we aim to address this discrepancy by laying out a framework for Autonomous Reinforcement Learning (ARL): reinforcement learning where the agent not only learns through its own experience, but also contends with lack of human supervision to reset between trials. We introduce a simulated benchmark EARL based on this framework, containing a set of diverse and challenging simulated tasks reflective of the hurdles introduced to learning when only a minimal reliance on extrinsic intervention can be assumed. We show that standard approaches to episodic RL and existing approaches struggle as interventions are minimized, underscoring the need for developing new algorithms for reinforcement learning with a greater focus on autonomy.

Mirror Descent Policy Optimization

Manan Tomar · Lior Shani · Yonathan Efroni · Mohammad Ghavamzadeh

Mirror descent (MD), a well-known first-order method in constrained convex optimization, has recently been shown as an important tool to analyze trust-region algorithms in reinforcement learning (RL). However, there remains a considerable gap between such theoretically analyzed algorithms and the ones used in practice. Inspired by this, we propose an efficient RL algorithm, called {\em mirror descent policy optimization} (MDPO). MDPO iteratively updates the policy by {\em approximately} solving a trust-region problem, whose objective function consists of two terms: a linearization of the standard RL objective and a proximity term that restricts two consecutive policies to be close to each other. Each update performs this approximation by taking multiple gradient steps on this objective function. We derive {\em on-policy} and {\em off-policy} variants of MDPO, while emphasizing important design choices motivated by the existing theory of MD in RL. We highlight the connections between on-policy MDPO and two popular trust-region RL algorithms: TRPO and PPO, and show that explicitly enforcing the trust-region constraint is in fact {\em not} a necessity for high performance gains in TRPO. We then show how the popular soft actor-critic (SAC) algorithm can be derived by slight modifications of off-policy MDPO. Overall, MDPO is derived from the MD principles, offers a unified approach to viewing a number of popular RL algorithms, and performs better than or on-par with TRPO, PPO, and SAC in a number of continuous and discrete control tasks.

Understanding the Variance Collapse of SVGD in High Dimensions

Jimmy Ba · Murat A Erdogdu · Marzyeh Ghassemi · Shengyang Sun · Taiji Suzuki · Denny Wu · Tianzong Zhang

Stein variational gradient descent (SVGD) is a deterministic inference algorithm that evolves a set of particles to fit a target distribution. Despite its computational efficiency, SVGD often underestimates the variance of the target distribution in high dimensions. In this work we attempt to explain the variance collapse in SVGD. On the qualitative side, we compare the SVGD update with gradient descent on the maximum mean discrepancy (MMD) objective; we observe that the variance collapse phenomenon relates to the bias from deterministic updates present in the "driving force" of SVGD, and empirically verify that removal of such bias leads to more accurate variance estimation. On the quantitative side, we demonstrate that the variance collapse of SVGD can be accurately predicted in the proportional asymptotic limit, i.e., when the number of particles $n$ and dimensions $d$ diverge at the same rate. In particular, for learning high-dimensional isotropic Gaussians, we derive the exact equilibrium variance for both SVGD and MMD-descent under certain near-orthogonality assumption on the converged particles, and confirm that SVGD suffers from the "curse of dimensionality".

FedChain: Chained Algorithms for Near-optimal Communication Cost in Federated Learning

Charlie Hou · Kiran Thekumparampil · Giulia Fanti · Sewoong Oh

Federated learning (FL) aims to minimize the communication complexity of training a model over heterogeneous data distributed across many clients. A common approach is local methods, where clients take multiple optimization steps over local data before communicating with the server (e.g., FedAvg). Local methods can exploit similarity between clients' data. However, in existing analyses, this comes at the cost of slow convergence in terms of the dependence on the number of communication rounds R. On the other hand, global methods, where clients simply return a gradient vector in each round (e.g., SGD), converge faster in terms of R but fail to exploit the similarity between clients even when clients are homogeneous. We propose FedChain, an algorithmic framework that combines the strengths of local methods and global methods to achieve fast convergence in terms of R while leveraging the similarity between clients. Using FedChain, we instantiate algorithms that improve upon previously known rates in the general convex and PL settings, and are near-optimal (via an algorithm-independent lower bound that we show) for problems that satisfy strong convexity. Empirical results support this theoretical gain over existing methods.

Learning to Schedule Learning rate with Graph Neural Networks

Yuanhao Xiong · Li-Cheng Lan · Xiangning Chen · Ruochen Wang · Cho-Jui Hsieh

Recent decades have witnessed great development of stochastic optimization in training deep neural networks. Learning rate scheduling is one of the most important factors that influence the performance of stochastic optimizers like Adam. Traditional methods seek to find a relatively proper scheduling among a limited number of pre-defined rules and might not accommodate a particular target problem. Instead, we propose a novel Graph-Network-based Scheduler (GNS), aiming at learning a specific scheduling mechanism without restrictions to existing principles. By constructing a directed graph for the underlying neural network of the target problem, GNS encodes current dynamics with a graph message passing network and trains an agent to control the learning rate accordingly via reinforcement learning. The proposed scheduler can capture the intermediate layer information while being able to generalize to problems of varying scales. Besides, an efficient reward collection procedure is leveraged to speed up training. We evaluate our framework on benchmarking datasets, Fashion-MNIST and CIFAR10 for image classification, and GLUE for language understanding. GNS shows consistent improvement over popular baselines when training CNN and Transformer models. Moreover, GNS demonstrates great generalization to different datasets and network structures.

Fairness in Representation for Multilingual NLP: Insights from Controlled Experiments on Conditional Language Modeling

Ada Wan

We perform systematically and fairly controlled experiments with the 6-layer Transformer to investigate the hardness in conditional-language-modeling languages which have been traditionally considered morphologically rich (AR and RU) and poor (ZH). We evaluate through statistical comparisons across 30 possible language directions from the 6 languages of the United Nations Parallel Corpus across 5 data sizes on 3 representation levels --- character, byte, and word. Results show that performance is relative to the representation granularity of each of the languages, not to the language as a whole. On the character and byte levels, we are able to eliminate statistically significant performance disparity, hence demonstrating that a language cannot be intrinsically hard. The disparity that mirrors the morphological complexity hierarchy is shown to be a byproduct of word segmentation. Evidence from data statistics, along with the fact that word segmentation is qualitatively indeterminate, renders a decades-long debate on morphological complexity (unless it is being intentionally modeled in a word-based, meaning-driven context) irrelevant in the context of computing. The intent of our work is to help effect more objectivity and adequacy in evaluation as well as fairness and inclusivity in experimental setup in the area of language and computing so to uphold diversity in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence research. Multilinguality is real and relevant in computing not due to canonical, structural linguistic concepts such as morphology or "words" in our minds, but rather standards related to internationalization and localization, such as character encoding --- something which has thus far been sorely overlooked in our discourse and curricula.

Unifying Likelihood-free Inference with Black-box Optimization and Beyond

Dinghuai Zhang · Jie Fu · Yoshua Bengio · Aaron Courville

Black-box optimization formulations for biological sequence design have drawn recent attention due to their promising potential impact on the pharmaceutical industry. In this work, we propose to unify two seemingly distinct worlds: likelihood-free inference and black-box optimization, under one probabilistic framework. In tandem, we provide a recipe for constructing various sequence design methods based on this framework. We show how previous optimization approaches can be "reinvented" in our framework, and further propose new probabilistic black-box optimization algorithms. Extensive experiments on sequence design application illustrate the benefits of the proposed methodology.

Anti-Concentrated Confidence Bonuses For Scalable Exploration

Jordan Ash · Cyril Zhang · Surbhi Goel · Akshay Krishnamurthy · Sham M Kakade

Intrinsic rewards play a central role in handling the exploration-exploitation tradeoff when designing sequential decision-making algorithms, in both foundational theory and state-of-the-art deep reinforcement learning. The LinUCB algorithm, a centerpiece of the stochastic linear bandits literature, prescribes an elliptical bonus which addresses the challenge of leveraging shared information in large action spaces. This bonus scheme cannot be directly transferred to high-dimensional exploration problems, however, due to the computational cost of maintaining the inverse covariance matrix of action features. We introduce anti-concentrated confidence bounds for efficiently approximating the elliptical bonus, using an ensemble of regressors trained to predict random noise from policy network-derived features. Using this approximation, we obtain stochastic linear bandit algorithms which obtain $\tilde O(d \sqrt{T})$ regret bounds for $\mathsf{poly}(d)$ fixed actions. We develop a practical variant that is competitive with contemporary intrinsic reward heuristics on Atari benchmarks.

How many degrees of freedom do we need to train deep networks: a loss landscape perspective

Brett Larsen · Stanislav Fort · Nic Becker · Surya Ganguli

A variety of recent works, spanning pruning, lottery tickets, and training within random subspaces, have shown that deep neural networks can be trained using far fewer degrees of freedom than the total number of parameters. We analyze this phenomenon for random subspaces by first examining the success probability of hitting a training loss sublevel set when training within a random subspace of a given training dimensionality. We find a sharp phase transition in the success probability from $0$ to $1$ as the training dimension surpasses a threshold. This threshold training dimension increases as the desired final loss decreases, but decreases as the initial loss decreases. We then theoretically explain the origin of this phase transition, and its dependence on initialization and final desired loss, in terms of properties of the high dimensional geometry of the loss landscape. In particular, we show via Gordon's escape theorem, that the training dimension plus the Gaussian width of the desired loss sub-level set, projected onto a unit sphere surrounding the initialization, must exceed the total number of parameters for the success probability to be large. In several architectures and datasets, we measure the threshold training dimension as a function of initialization and demonstrate that it is a small fraction of the total parameters, implying by our theory that successful training with so few dimensions is possible precisely because the Gaussian width of low loss sub-level sets is very large. Moreover, we compare this threshold training dimension to more sophisticated ways of reducing training degrees of freedom, including lottery tickets as well as a new, analogous method: lottery subspaces.

EntQA: Entity Linking as Question Answering

Wenzheng Zhang · Wenyue Hua · Karl Stratos

A conventional approach to entity linking is to first find mentions in a given document and then infer their underlying entities in the knowledge base. A well-known limitation of this approach is that it requires finding mentions without knowing their entities, which is unnatural and difficult. We present a new model that does not suffer from this limitation called $\textbf{EntQA}$, which stands for $\mbox{\textbf{Ent}ity}$ linking as $\mbox{\textbf{Q}uestion}$ $\mbox{\textbf{A}nswering}$. EntQA first proposes candidate entities with a fast retrieval module, and then scrutinizes the document to find mentions of each candidate with a powerful reader module. Our approach combines progress in entity linking with that in open-domain question answering and capitalizes on pretrained models for dense entity retrieval and reading comprehension. Unlike in previous works, we do not rely on a mention-candidates dictionary or large-scale weak supervision. EntQA achieves strong results on the GERBIL benchmarking platform.

Sample Selection with Uncertainty of Losses for Learning with Noisy Labels

Xiaobo Xia · Tongliang Liu · Bo Han · Mingming Gong · Jun Yu · Gang Niu · Masashi Sugiyama

In learning with noisy labels, the sample selection approach is very popular, which regards small-loss data as correctly labeled data during training. However, losses are generated on-the-fly based on the model being trained with noisy labels, and thus large-loss data are likely but not certain to be incorrect. There are actually two possibilities of a large-loss data point: (a) it is mislabeled, and then its loss decreases slower than other data, since deep neural networks learn patterns first; (b) it belongs to an underrepresented group of data and has not been selected yet. In this paper, we incorporate the uncertainty of losses by adopting interval estimation instead of point estimation of losses, where lower bounds of the confidence intervals of losses derived from distribution-free concentration inequalities, but not losses themselves, are used for sample selection. In this way, we also give large-loss but less selected data a try; then, we can better distinguish between the cases (a) and (b) by seeing if the losses effectively decrease with the uncertainty after the try. As a result, we can better explore underrepresented data that are correctly labeled but seem to be mislabeled at first glance. Experiments demonstrate that the proposed method is superior to baselines and robust to a broad range of label noise types.

Towards a Unified View of Parameter-Efficient Transfer Learning

Junxian He · Chunting Zhou · Xuezhe Ma · Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick · Graham Neubig

Fine-tuning large pretrained language models on downstream tasks has become the de-facto learning paradigm in NLP. However, conventional approaches fine-tune all the parameters of the pretrained model, which becomes prohibitive as the model size and the number of tasks grow. Recent work has proposed a variety of parameter-efficient transfer learning methods that only fine-tune a small number of (extra) parameters to attain strong performance. While effective, the critical ingredients for success and the connections among the various methods are poorly understood. In this paper, we break down the design of state-of-the-art parameter-efficient transfer learning methods and present a unified framework that establishes connections between them. Specifically, we re-frame them as modifications to specific hidden states in pretrained models, and define a set of design dimensions along which different methods vary, such as the function to compute the modification and the position to apply the modification. Through comprehensive empirical studies across machine translation, text summarization, language understanding, and text classification benchmarks, we utilize the unified view to identify important design choices in previous methods. Furthermore, our unified framework enables the transfer of design elements across different approaches, and as a result we are able to instantiate new parameter-efficient fine-tuning methods that tune less parameters than previous methods while being more effective, achieving comparable results to fine-tuning all parameters on all four tasks.

Properties from mechanisms: an equivariance perspective on identifiable representation learning

Kartik Ahuja · Jason Hartford · Yoshua Bengio

A key goal of unsupervised representation learning is inverting'' a data generating process to recover its latent properties. Existing work that provably achieves this goal relies on strong assumptions on relationships between the latent variables (e.g., independence conditional on auxiliary information). In this paper, we take a very different perspective on the problem and ask,Can we instead identify latent properties by leveraging knowledge of the mechanisms that govern their evolution?'' We provide a complete characterization of the sources of non-identifiability as we vary knowledge about a set of possible mechanisms. In particular, we prove that if we know the exact mechanisms under which the latent properties evolve, then identification can be achieved up to any equivariances that are shared by the underlying mechanisms. We generalize this characterization to settings where we only know some hypothesis class over possible mechanisms, as well as settings where the mechanisms are stochastic. We demonstrate the power of this mechanism-based perspective by showing that we can leverage our results to generalize existing identifiable representation learning results. These results suggest that by exploiting inductive biases on mechanisms, it is possible to design a range of new identifiable representation learning approaches.

Revisit Kernel Pruning with Lottery Regulated Grouped Convolutions

Shaochen (Henry) Zhong · Guanqun Zhang · Ningjia Huang · shuai xu

Structured pruning methods which are capable of delivering a densely pruned network are among the most popular techniques in the realm of neural network pruning, where most methods prune the original network at a filter or layer level. Although such methods may provide immediate compression and acceleration benefits, we argue that the blanket removal of an entire filter or layer may result in undesired accuracy loss. In this paper, we revisit the idea of kernel pruning (to only prune one or several $k \times k$ kernels out of a 3D-filter), a heavily overlooked approach under the context of structured pruning. This is because kernel pruning will naturally introduce sparsity to filters within the same convolutional layer — thus, making the remaining network no longer dense. We address this problem by proposing a versatile grouped pruning framework where we first cluster filters from each convolutional layer into equal-sized groups, prune the grouped kernels we deem unimportant from each filter group, then permute the remaining filters to form a densely grouped convolutional architecture (which also enables the parallel computing capability) for fine-tuning. Specifically, we consult empirical findings from a series of literature regarding $\textit{Lottery Ticket Hypothesis}$ to determine the optimal clustering scheme per layer, and develop a simple yet cost-efficient greedy approximation algorithm to determine which group kernels to keep within each filter group. Extensive experiments also demonstrate our method often outperforms comparable SOTA methods with lesser data augmentation needed, smaller fine-tuning budget required, and sometimes even much simpler procedure executed (e.g., one-shot v. iterative). Please refer to our GitHub repository ( for code.

Generalized Natural Gradient Flows in Hidden Convex-Concave Games and GANs

Andjela Mladenovic · Iosif Sakos · Gauthier Gidel · Georgios Piliouras

Game-theoretic formulations in machine learning have recently risen in prominence, whereby entire modeling paradigms are best captured as zero-sum games. Despite their popularity, however, their dynamics are still poorly understood. This lack of theory is often substantiated with painful empirical observations of volatile training dynamics and even divergence. Such results highlight the need to develop an appropriate theory with convergence guarantees that are powerful enough to inform practice. This paper studies the generalized Gradient Descent-Ascent (GDA) flow in a large class of non-convex non-concave Zero-Sum games dubbed Hidden Convex-Concave games, a class of games that includes GANs. We focus on two specific geometries: a novel geometry induced by the hidden convex-concave structure that we call the hidden mapping geometry and the Fisher information geometry. For the hidden mapping geometry, we prove global convergence under mild assumptions. In the case of Fisher information geometry, we provide a complete picture of the dynamics in an interesting special setting of team competition via invariant function analysis.

FILM: Following Instructions in Language with Modular Methods

So Yeon Min · Devendra Singh Chaplot · Pradeep K Ravikumar · Yonatan Bisk · Ruslan Salakhutdinov

Recent methods for embodied instruction following are typically trained end-to-end using imitation learning. This often requires the use of expert trajectories and low-level language instructions. Such approaches assume that neural states will integrate multimodal semantics to perform state tracking, building spatial memory, exploration, and long-term planning. In contrast, we propose a modular method with structured representations that (1) builds a semantic map of the scene and (2) performs exploration with a semantic search policy, to achieve the natural language goal. Our modular method achieves SOTA performance (24.46 %) with a substantial (8.17 % absolute) gap from previous work while using less data by eschewing both expert trajectories and low-level instructions. Leveraging low-level language, however, can further increase our performance (26.49 %). Our findings suggest that an explicit spatial memory and a semantic search policy can provide a stronger and more general representation for state-tracking and guidance, even in the absence of expert trajectories or low-level instructions.

R4D: Utilizing Reference Objects for Long-Range Distance Estimation

Yinigwei Li · Tiffany Chen · Maya Kabkab · Ruichi Yu · Longlong Jing · Yurong You · Hang Zhao

Estimating the distance of objects is a safety-critical task for autonomous driving. Focusing on short-range objects, existing methods and datasets neglect the equally important long-range objects. In this paper, we introduce a challenging and under-explored task, which we refer to as Long-Range Distance Estimation, as well as two datasets to validate new methods developed for this task. We then proposeR4D, the first framework to accurately estimate the distance of long-range objects by using references with known distances in the scene. Drawing inspiration from human perception, R4D builds a graph by connecting a target object to all references. An edge in the graph encodes the relative distance information between a pair of target and reference objects. An attention module is then used to weigh the importance of reference objects and combine them into one target object distance prediction. Experiments on the two proposed datasets demonstrate the effectiveness and robustness of R4D by showing significant improvements compared to existing baselines. We’re looking to make the proposed dataset, Waymo OpenDataset - Long-Range Labels, available publicly at

Wish you were here: Hindsight Goal Selection for long-horizon dexterous manipulation

Todor Davchev · Oleg Sushkov · Jean-Baptiste Regli · Stefan Schaal · Yusuf Aytar · Markus Wulfmeier · Jon Scholz

Complex sequential tasks in continuous-control settings often require agents to successfully traverse a set of ``narrow passages'' in their state space. Solving such tasks with a sparse reward in a sample-efficient manner poses a challenge to modern reinforcement learning (RL) due to the associated long-horizon nature of the problem and the lack of sufficient positive signal during learning. Various tools have been applied to address this challenge. When available, large sets of demonstrations can guide agent exploration. Hindsight relabelling on the other hand does not require additional sources of information. However, existing strategies explore based on task-agnostic goal distributions, which can render the solution of long-horizon tasks impractical. In this work, we extend hindsight relabelling mechanisms to guide exploration along task-specific distributions implied by a small set of successful demonstrations. We evaluate the approach on four complex, single and dual arm, robotics manipulation tasks against strong suitable baselines. The method requires far fewer demonstrations to solve all tasks and achieves a significantly higher overall performance as task complexity increases. Finally, we investigate the robustness of the proposed solution with respect to the quality of input representations and the number of demonstrations.

Proof Artifact Co-Training for Theorem Proving with Language Models

Jesse Han · Jason Rute · Yuhuai Wu · Edward Ayers · Stanislas Polu

Labeled data for imitation learning of theorem proving in large libraries of formalized mathematics is scarce as such libraries require years of concentrated effort by human specialists to be built. This is particularly challenging when applying large Transformer language models to tactic prediction, because the scaling of performance with respect to model size is quickly disrupted in the data-scarce, easily-overfitted regime. We propose PACT (Proof Artifact Co-Training), a general methodology for extracting abundant self-supervised data from kernel-level proof terms for joint training alongside the usual tactic prediction objective. We apply this methodology to Lean,an interactive proof assistant which hosts some of the most sophisticated formalized mathematics to date. We instrument Lean with a neural theorem prover driven by a Transformer language model and show that PACT improves theorem proving success rate on a held-out suite of test theorems from 32% to 48%.

Language-biased image classification: evaluation based on semantic representations

Yoann Lemesle · Masataka Sawayama · Guillermo Valle-Perez · Maxime Adolphe · Hélène Sauzéon · Pierre-Yves Oudeyer

Humans show language-biased image recognition for a word-embedded image, known as picture-word interference. Such interference depends on hierarchical semantic categories and reflects that human language processing highly interacts with visual processing. Similar to humans, recent artificial models jointly trained on texts and images, e.g., OpenAI CLIP, show language-biased image classification. Exploring whether the bias leads to interference similar to those observed in humans can contribute to understanding how much the model acquires hierarchical semantic representations from joint learning of language and vision. The present study introduces methodological tools from the cognitive science literature to assess the biases of artificial models. Specifically, we introduce a benchmark task to test whether words superimposed on images can distort the image classification across different category levels and, if it can, whether the perturbation is due to the shared semantic representation between language and vision. Our dataset is a set of word-embedded images and consists of a mixture of natural image datasets and hierarchical word labels with superordinate/basic category levels. Using this benchmark test, we evaluate the CLIP model. We show that presenting words distorts the image classification by the model across different category levels, but the effect does not depend on the semantic relationship between images and embedded words. This suggests that the semantic word representation in the CLIP visual processing is not shared with the image representation, although the word representation strongly dominates for word-embedded images.

Practical Integration via Separable Bijective Networks

Christopher Bender · Patrick Emmanuel · Michael Reiter · Junier Oliva

Neural networks have enabled learning over examples that contain thousands of dimensions.However, most of these models are limited to training and evaluating on a finite collection of \textit{points} and do not consider the hypervolume in which the data resides.Any analysis of the model's local or global behavior is therefore limited to very expensive or imprecise estimators.We propose to formulate neural networks as a composition of a bijective (flow) network followed by a learnable, separable network.This construction allows for learning (or assessing) over full hypervolumes with precise estimators at tractable computational cost via integration over the \textit{input space}.We develop the necessary machinery, propose several practical integrals to use during training, and demonstrate their utility.

Robust Learning Meets Generative Models: Can Proxy Distributions Improve Adversarial Robustness?

Vikash Sehwag · Saeed Mahloujifar · Tinashe Handina · Sihui Dai · Chong Xiang · Mung Chiang · Prateek Mittal

While additional training data improves the robustness of deep neural networks against adversarial examples, it presents the challenge of curating a large number of specific real-world samples. We circumvent this challenge by using additional data from proxy distributions learned by advanced generative models. We first seek to formally understand the transfer of robustness from classifiers trained on proxy distributions to the real data distribution. We prove that the difference between the robustness of a classifier on the two distributions is upper bounded by the conditional Wasserstein distance between them. Next we use proxy distributions to significantly improve the performance of adversarial training on five different datasets. For example, we improve robust accuracy by up to $7.5$% and $6.7$% in $\ell_{\infty}$ and $\ell_2$ threat model over baselines that are not using proxy distributions on the CIFAR-10 dataset. We also improve certified robust accuracy by $7.6$% on the CIFAR-10 dataset. We further demonstrate that different generative models brings a disparate improvement in the performance in robust training. We propose a robust discrimination approach to characterize the impact and further provide a deeper understanding of why diffusion-based generative models are a better choice for proxy distribution than generative adversarial networks.

Autoregressive Quantile Flows for Predictive Uncertainty Estimation

Phillip Si · Allan Bishop · Volodymyr Kuleshov

Numerous applications of machine learning involve representing probability distributions over high-dimensional data. We propose autoregressive quantile flows, a flexible class of normalizing flow models trained using a novel objective based on proper scoring rules. Our objective does not require calculating computationally expensive determinants of Jacobians during training and supports new types of neural architectures, such as neural autoregressive flows from which it is easy to sample. We leverage these models in quantile flow regression, an approach that parameterizes predictive conditional distributions with flows, resulting in improved probabilistic predictions on tasks such as time series forecasting and object detection. Our novel objective functions and neural flow parameterizations also yield improvements on popular generation and density estimation tasks, and represent a step beyond maximum likelihood learning of flows.

Possibility Before Utility: Learning And Using Hierarchical Affordances

Robert S Costales · Shariq Iqbal · Fei Sha

Reinforcement learning algorithms struggle on tasks with complex hierarchical dependency structures. Humans and other intelligent agents do not waste time assessing the utility of every high-level action in existence, but instead only consider ones they deem possible in the first place. By focusing only on what is feasible, or "afforded'', at the present moment, an agent can spend more time both evaluating the utility of and acting on what matters. To this end, we present Hierarchical Affordance Learning (HAL), a method that learns a model of hierarchical affordances in order to prune impossible subtasks for more effective learning. Existing works in hierarchical reinforcement learning provide agents with structural representations of subtasks but are not affordance-aware, and by grounding our definition of hierarchical affordances in the present state, our approach is more flexible than the multitude of approaches that ground their subtask dependencies in a symbolic history. While these logic-based methods often require complete knowledge of the subtask hierarchy, our approach is able to utilize incomplete and varying symbolic specifications. Furthermore, we demonstrate that relative to non-affordance-aware methods, HAL agents are better able to efficiently learn complex tasks, navigate environment stochasticity, and acquire diverse skills in the absence of extrinsic supervision---all of which are hallmarks of human learning.

Robbing the Fed: Directly Obtaining Private Data in Federated Learning with Modified Models

Liam H Fowl · Jonas Geiping · Wojciech Czaja · Micah Goldblum · Tom Goldstein

Federated learning has quickly gained popularity with its promises of increased user privacy and efficiency. Previous works have shown that federated gradient updates contain information that can be used to approximately recover user data in some situations. These previous attacks on user privacy have been limited in scope and do not scale to gradient updates aggregated over even a handful of data points, leaving some to conclude that data privacy is still intact for realistic training regimes. In this work, we introduce a new threat model based on minimal but malicious modifications of the shared model architecture which enable the server to directly obtain a verbatim copy of user data from gradient updates without solving difficult inverse problems. Even user data aggregated over large batches – where previous methods fail to extract meaningful content – can be reconstructed by these minimally modified models.

Approximation and Learning with Deep Convolutional Models: a Kernel Perspective

Alberto Bietti

The empirical success of deep convolutional networks on tasks involving high-dimensional data such as images or audio suggests that they can efficiently approximate certain functions that are well-suited for such tasks. In this paper, we study this through the lens of kernel methods, by considering simple hierarchical kernels with two or three convolution and pooling layers, inspired by convolutional kernel networks. These achieve good empirical performance on standard vision datasets, while providing a precise description of their functional space that yields new insights on their inductive bias. We show that the RKHS consists of additive models of interaction terms between patches, and that its norm encourages spatial similarities between these terms through pooling layers. We then provide generalization bounds which illustrate how pooling and patches yield improved sample complexity guarantees when the target function presents such regularities.

Increasing the Cost of Model Extraction with Calibrated Proof of Work

Adam Dziedzic · Muhammad Ahmad Kaleem · Yu Shen Lu · Nicolas Papernot

In model extraction attacks, adversaries can steal a machine learning model exposed via a public API by repeatedly querying it and adjusting their own model based on obtained predictions. To prevent model stealing, existing defenses focus on detecting malicious queries, truncating, or distorting outputs, thus necessarily introducing a tradeoff between robustness and model utility for legitimate users. Instead, we propose to impede model extraction by requiring users to complete a proof-of-work before they can read the model's predictions. This deters attackers by greatly increasing (even up to 100x) the computational effort needed to leverage query access for model extraction. Since we calibrate the effort required to complete the proof-of-work to each query, this only introduces a slight overhead for regular users (up to 2x). To achieve this, our calibration applies tools from differential privacy to measure the information revealed by a query. Our method requires no modification of the victim model and can be applied by machine learning practitioners to guard their publicly exposed models against being easily stolen.

TPU-GAN: Learning temporal coherence from dynamic point cloud sequences

Zijie Li · Tianqin Li · Amir Barati Farimani

Point cloud sequence is an important data representation that provides flexible shape and motion information. Prior work demonstrates that incorporating scene flow information into loss can make model learn temporally coherent feature spaces. However, it is prohibitively expensive to acquire point correspondence information across frames in real-world environments. In this work, we propose a super-resolution generative adversarial network (GAN) for upsampling dynamic point cloud sequences, which does not require point correspondence annotation. Our model, Temporal Point cloud Upsampling GAN (TPU-GAN), can implicitly learn the underlying temporal coherence from point cloud sequence, which in turn guides the generator to produce temporally coherent output. In addition, we propose a learnable masking module to adapt upsampling ratio according to the point distribution. We conduct extensive experiments on point cloud sequences from two different domains: particles in the fluid dynamical system and human action scanned data. The quantitative and qualitative evaluation demonstrates the effectiveness of our method on upsampling tasks as well as learning temporal coherence from irregular point cloud sequences.

Who Is the Strongest Enemy? Towards Optimal and Efficient Evasion Attacks in Deep RL

Yanchao Sun · Ruijie Zheng · Yongyuan Liang · Furong Huang

Evaluating the worst-case performance of a reinforcement learning (RL) agent under the strongest/optimal adversarial perturbations on state observations (within some constraints) is crucial for understanding the robustness of RL agents. However, finding the optimal adversary is challenging, in terms of both whether we can find the optimal attack and how efficiently we can find it. Existing works on adversarial RL either use heuristics-based methods that may not find the strongest adversary, or directly train an RL-based adversary by treating the agent as a part of the environment, which can find the optimal adversary but may become intractable in a large state space. This paper introduces a novel attacking method to find the optimal attacks through collaboration between a designed function named "actor" and an RL-based learner named "director'". The actor crafts state perturbations for a given policy perturbation direction, and the director learns to propose the best policy perturbation directions. Our proposed algorithm, PA-AD, is theoretically optimal and significantly more efficient than prior RL-based works in environments with large state spaces. Empirical results show that our proposed PA-AD universally outperforms state-of-the-art attacking methods in various Atari and MuJoCo environments. By applying PA-AD to adversarial training, we achieve state-of-the-art empirical robustness in multiple tasks under strong adversaries.

RelaxLoss: Defending Membership Inference Attacks without Losing Utility

Dingfan Chen · Ning Yu · Mario Fritz

As a long-term threat to the privacy of training data, membership inference attacks (MIAs) emerge ubiquitously in machine learning models.Existing works evidence strong connection between the distinguishability of the training and testing loss distributions and the model's vulnerability to MIAs. Motivated by existing results, we propose a novel training framework based on a relaxed loss ($\textbf{RelaxLoss}$) with a more achievable learning target, which leads to narrowed generalization gap and reduced privacy leakage. RelaxLoss is applicable to any classification model with added benefits of easy implementation and negligible overhead. Through extensive evaluations on five datasets with diverse modalities (images, medical data, transaction records), our approach consistently outperforms state-of-the-art defense mechanisms in terms of resilience against MIAs as well as model utility. Our defense is the first that can withstand a wide range of attacks while preserving (or even improving) the target model's utility.

New Insights on Reducing Abrupt Representation Change in Online Continual Learning

Lucas Caccia · Rahaf Aljundi · Nader Asadi · Tinne Tuytelaars · Joelle Pineau · Eugene Belilovsky

In the online continual learning paradigm, agents must learn from a changing distribution while respecting memory and compute constraints. Experience Replay (ER), where a small subset of past data is stored and replayed alongside new data, has emerged as a simple and effective learning strategy. In this work, we focus on the change in representations of observed data that arises when previously unobserved classes appear in the incoming data stream, and new classes must be distinguished from previous ones. We shed new light on this question by showing that applying ER causes the newly added classes’ representations to overlap significantly with the previous classes, leading to highly disruptive parameter updates. Based on this empirical analysis, we propose a new method which mitigates this issue by shielding the learned representations from drastic adaptation to accommodate new classes. We show that using an asymmetric update rule pushes new classes to adapt to the older ones (rather than the reverse), which is more effective especially at task boundaries, where much of the forgetting typically occurs. Empirical results show significant gains over strong baselines on standard continual learning benchmarks.

Lossless Compression with Probabilistic Circuits

Anji Liu · Stephan Mandt · Guy Van den Broeck

Despite extensive progress on image generation, common deep generative model architectures are not easily applied to lossless compression. For example, VAEs suffer from a compression cost overhead due to their latent variables. This overhead can only be partially eliminated with elaborate schemes such as bits-back coding, often resulting in poor single-sample compression rates. To overcome such problems, we establish a new class of tractable lossless compression models that permit efficient encoding and decoding: Probabilistic Circuits (PCs). These are a class of neural networks involving $|p|$ computational units that support efficient marginalization over arbitrary subsets of the $D$ feature dimensions, enabling efficient arithmetic coding. We derive efficient encoding and decoding schemes that both have time complexity $\mathcal{O} (\log(D) \cdot |p|)$, where a naive scheme would have linear costs in $D$ and $|p|$, making the approach highly scalable. Empirically, our PC-based (de)compression algorithm runs 5-40 times faster than neural compression algorithms that achieve similar bitrates. By scaling up the traditional PC structure learning pipeline, we achieve state-of-the-art results on image datasets such as MNIST. Furthermore, PCs can be naturally integrated with existing neural compression algorithms to improve the performance of these base models on natural image datasets. Our results highlight the potential impact that non-standard learning architectures may have on neural data compression.

Programmatic Reinforcement Learning without Oracles

Wenjie Qiu · He Zhu

Deep reinforcement learning (RL) has led to encouraging successes in many challenging control tasks. However, a deep RL model lacks interpretability due to the difficulty of identifying how the model's control logic relates to its network structure. Programmatic policies structured in more interpretable representations emerge as a promising solution. Yet two shortcomings remain: First, synthesizing programmatic policies requires optimizing over the discrete and non-differentiable search space of program architectures. Previous works are suboptimal because they only enumerate program architectures greedily guided by a pretrained RL oracle. Second, these works do not exploit compositionality, an important programming concept, to reuse and compose primitive functions to form a complex function for new tasks. Our first contribution is a programmatically interpretable RL framework that conducts program architecture search on top of a continuous relaxation of the architecture space defined by programming language grammar rules. Our algorithm allows policy architectures to be learned with policy parameters via bilevel optimization using efficient policy-gradient methods, and thus does not require a pretrained oracle. Our second contribution is improving programmatic policies to support compositionality by integrating primitive functions learned to grasp task-agnostic skills as a composite program to solve novel RL problems. Experiment results demonstrate that our algorithm excels in discovering optimal programmatic policies that are highly interpretable.

Overcoming The Spectral Bias of Neural Value Approximation

Ge Yang · Anurag Ajay · Pulkit Agrawal

Value approximation using deep neural networks is at the heart of off-policy deep reinforcement learning, and is often the primary module that provides learning signals to the rest of the algorithm. While multi-layer perceptrons are universal function approximators, recent works in neural kernel regression suggest the presence of a \textit{spectral bias}, where fitting high-frequency components of the value function requires exponentially more gradient update steps than the low-frequency ones. In this work, we re-examine off-policy reinforcement learning through the lens of kernel regression and propose to overcome such bias via a composite neural tangent kernel. With just a single line-change, our approach, the Fourier feature networks (FFN) produce state-of-the-art performance on challenging continuous control domains with only a fraction of the compute. Faster convergence and better off-policy stability also make it possible to remove the target network without suffering catastrophic divergences, which further reduces (\text{TD}(0))'s bias to over-estimate the value.

Finding an Unsupervised Image Segmenter in each of your Deep Generative Models

Luke Melas-Kyriazi · Christian Rupprecht · Iro Laina · Andrea Vedaldi

Recent research has shown that numerous human-interpretable directions exist in the latent space of GANs. In this paper, we develop an automatic procedure for finding directions that lead to foreground-background image separation, and we use these directions to train an image segmentation model without human supervision. Our method is generator-agnostic, producing strong segmentation results with a wide range of different GAN architectures. Furthermore, by leveraging GANs pretrained on large datasets such as ImageNet, we are able to segment images from a range of domains without further training or finetuning. Evaluating our method on image segmentation benchmarks, we compare favorably to prior work while using neither human supervision nor access to the training data. Broadly, our results demonstrate that automatically extracting foreground-background structure from pretrained deep generative models can serve as a remarkably effective substitute for human supervision.

The Geometry of Memoryless Stochastic Policy Optimization in Infinite-Horizon POMDPs

Johannes Müller · Guido Montufar

We consider the problem of finding the best memoryless stochastic policy for an infinite-horizon partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP) with finite state and action spaces with respect to either the discounted or mean reward criterion. We show that the (discounted) state-action frequencies and the expected cumulative reward are rational functions of the policy, whereby the degree is determined by the degree of partial observability. We then describe the optimization problem as a linear optimization problem in the space of feasible state-action frequencies subject to polynomial constraints that we characterize explicitly. This allows us to address the combinatorial and geometric complexity of the optimization problem using recent tools from polynomial optimization. In particular, we demonstrate how the partial observability constraints can lead to multiple smooth and non-smooth local optimizers and we estimate the number of critical points.

Geometry-Consistent Neural Shape Representation with Implicit Displacement Fields

Wang Yifan · Lukas Rahmann · Olga Sorkine-hornung

We present implicit displacement fields, a novel representation for detailed 3D geometry. Inspired by a classic surface deformation technique, displacement mapping, our method represents a complex surface as a smooth base surface plus a displacement along the base's normal directions, resulting in a frequency-based shape decomposition, where the high-frequency signal is constrained geometrically by the low-frequency signal. Importantly, this disentanglement is unsupervised thanks to a tailored architectural design that has an innate frequency hierarchy by construction. We explore implicit displacement field surface reconstruction and detail transferand demonstrate superior representational power, training stability, and generalizability.

Deep ReLU Networks Preserve Expected Length

Boris Hanin · Ryan Jeong · David Rolnick

Assessing the complexity of functions computed by a neural network helps us understand how the network will learn and generalize. One natural measure of complexity is how the network distorts length - if the network takes a unit-length curve as input, what is the length of the resulting curve of outputs? It has been widely believed that this length grows exponentially in network depth. We prove that in fact this is not the case: the expected length distortion does not grow with depth, and indeed shrinks slightly, for ReLU networks with standard random initialization. We also generalize this result by proving upper bounds both for higher moments of the length distortion and for the distortion of higher-dimensional volumes. These theoretical results are corroborated by our experiments.