Oral 5 Track 3: Deep Learning and representational learning



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Wed 3 May 1:00 - 1:10 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
Hungry Hungry Hippos: Towards Language Modeling with State Space Models

Dan Fu · Tri Dao · Khaled Saab · Armin Thomas · Atri Rudra · Christopher Re

State space models (SSMs) have demonstrated state-of-the-art sequence modeling performance in some modalities, but underperform attention in language modeling. Moreover, despite scaling nearly linearly in sequence length instead of quadratically, SSMs are still slower than Transformers due to poor hardware utilization. In this paper, we make progress on understanding the expressivity gap between SSMs and attention in language modeling, and on reducing the hardware barrier between SSMs and attention. First, we use synthetic language modeling tasks to understand the gap between SSMs and attention. We find that existing SSMs struggle with two capabilities: recalling earlier tokens in the sequence and comparing tokens across the sequence. To understand the impact on language modeling, we propose a new SSM layer, H3, that is explicitly designed for these abilities. H3 matches attention on the synthetic languages and comes within 0.4 PPL of Transformers on OpenWebText. Furthermore, a hybrid 125M-parameter H3-attention model that retains two attention layers surprisingly outperforms Transformers on OpenWebText by 1.0 PPL. Next, to improve the efficiency of training SSMs on modern hardware, we propose FlashConv. FlashConv uses a fused block FFT algorithm to improve efficiency on sequences up to 8K, and introduces a novel state passing algorithm that exploits the recurrent properties of SSMs to scale to longer sequences. FlashConv yields 2$\times$ speedup on the long-range arena benchmark and allows hybrid language models to generate text 2.4$\times$ faster than Transformers. Using FlashConv, we scale hybrid H3-attention language models up to 2.7B parameters on the Pile and find promising initial results, achieving lower perplexity than Transformers and outperforming Transformers in zero- and few-shot learning on a majority of tasks in the SuperGLUE benchmark.

Wed 3 May 1:10 - 1:20 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 5% paper
Relative representations enable zero-shot latent space communication

Luca Moschella · Valentino Maiorca · Marco Fumero · Antonio Norelli · Francesco Locatello · Emanuele Rodolà

Neural networks embed the geometric structure of a data manifold lying in a high-dimensional space into latent representations. Ideally, the distribution of the data points in the latent space should depend only on the task, the data, the loss, and other architecture-specific constraints. However, factors such as the random weights initialization, training hyperparameters, or other sources of randomness in the training phase may induce incoherent latent spaces that hinder any form of reuse. Nevertheless, we empirically observe that, under the same data and modeling choices, the angles between the encodings within distinct latent spaces do not change. In this work, we propose the latent similarity between each sample and a fixed set of anchors as an alternative data representation, demonstrating that it can enforce the desired invariances without any additional training. We show how neural architectures can leverage these relative representations to guarantee, in practice, invariance to latent isometries and rescalings, effectively enabling latent space communication: from zero-shot model stitching to latent space comparison between diverse settings. We extensively validate the generalization capability of our approach on different datasets, spanning various modalities (images, text, graphs), tasks (e.g., classification, reconstruction) and architectures (e.g., CNNs, GCNs, transformers).

Wed 3 May 1:20 - 1:30 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
ExpressivE: A Spatio-Functional Embedding For Knowledge Graph Completion

Aleksandar Pavlović · Emanuel Sallinger

Knowledge graphs are inherently incomplete. Therefore substantial research has been directed toward knowledge graph completion (KGC), i.e., predicting missing triples from the information represented in the knowledge graph (KG). KG embedding models (KGEs) have yielded promising results for KGC, yet any current KGE is incapable of: (1) fully capturing vital inference patterns (e.g., composition), (2) capturing prominent patterns jointly (e.g., hierarchy and composition), and (3) providing an intuitive interpretation of captured patterns. In this work, we propose ExpressivE, a fully expressive spatio-functional KGE that solves all these challenges simultaneously. ExpressivE embeds pairs of entities as points and relations as hyper-parallelograms in the virtual triple space $\mathbb{R}^{2d}$. This model design allows ExpressivE not only to capture a rich set of inference patterns jointly but additionally to display any supported inference pattern through the spatial relation of hyper-parallelograms, offering an intuitive and consistent geometric interpretation of ExpressivE embeddings and their captured patterns. Experimental results on standard KGC benchmarks reveal that ExpressivE is competitive with state-of-the-art KGEs and even significantly outperforms them on WN18RR.

Wed 3 May 1:30 - 1:40 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
Distilling Model Failures as Directions in Latent Space

Saachi Jain · Hannah Lawrence · Ankur Moitra · Aleksander Madry

Existing methods for isolating hard subpopulations and spurious correlations in datasets often require human intervention. This can make these methods labor-intensive and dataset-specific. To address these shortcomings, we present a scalable method for automatically distilling a model's failure modes. Specifically, we harness linear classifiers to identify consistent error patterns, and, in turn, induce a natural representation of these failure modes as directions within the feature space. We demonstrate that this framework allows us to discover and automatically caption challenging subpopulations within the training dataset. Moreover, by combining our framework with off-the-shelf diffusion models, we can generate images that are especially challenging for the analyzed model, and thus can be used to perform synthetic data augmentation that helps remedy the model's failure modes.

Wed 3 May 1:40 - 1:50 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 5% paper
Graph Neural Networks for Link Prediction with Subgraph Sketching

Benjamin Chamberlain · Sergey Shirobokov · Emanuele Rossi · Fabrizio Frasca · Thomas Markovich · Nils Hammerla · Michael Bronstein · Max Hansmire

Many Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) perform poorly compared to simple heuristics on Link Prediction (LP) tasks. This is due to limitations in expressive power such as the inability to count triangles (the backbone of most LP heuristics) and because they can not distinguish automorphic nodes (those having identical structural roles). Both expressiveness issues can be alleviated by learning link (rather than node) representations and incorporating structural features such as triangle counts. Since explicit link representations are often prohibitively expensive, recent works resorted to subgraph-based methods, which have achieved state-of-the-art performance for LP, but suffer from poor efficiency due to high levels of redundancy between subgraphs. We analyze the components of subgraph GNN (SGNN) methods for link prediction. Based on our analysis, we propose a novel full-graph GNN called ELPH (Efficient Link Prediction with Hashing) that passes subgraph sketches as messages to approximate the key components of SGNNs without explicit subgraph construction. ELPH is provably more expressive than Message Passing GNNs (MPNNs). It outperforms existing SGNN models on many standard LP benchmarks while being orders of magnitude faster. However, it shares the common GNN limitation that it is only efficient when the dataset fits in GPU memory. Accordingly, we develop a highly scalable model, called BUDDY, which uses feature precomputation to circumvent this limitation without sacrificing predictive performance. Our experiments show that BUDDY also outperforms SGNNs on standard LP benchmarks while being highly scalable and faster than ELPH.

Wed 3 May 1:50 - 2:00 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
The Influence of Learning Rule on Representation Dynamics in Wide Neural Networks

Blake Bordelon · Cengiz Pehlevan

It is unclear how changing the learning rule of a deep neural network alters its learning dynamics and representations. To gain insight into the relationship between learned features, function approximation, and the learning rule, we analyze infinite-width deep networks trained with gradient descent (GD) and biologically-plausible alternatives including feedback alignment (FA), direct feedback alignment (DFA), and error modulated Hebbian learning (Hebb), as well as gated linear networks (GLN). We show that, for each of these learning rules, the evolution of the output function at infinite width is governed by a time varying effective neural tangent kernel (eNTK). In the lazy training limit, this eNTK is static and does not evolve, while in the rich mean-field regime this kernel's evolution can be determined self-consistently with dynamical mean field theory (DMFT). This DMFT enables comparisons of the feature and prediction dynamics induced by each of these learning rules. In the lazy limit, we find that DFA and Hebb can only learn using the last layer features, while full FA can utilize earlier layers with a scale determined by the initial correlation between feedforward and feedback weight matrices. In the rich regime, DFA and FA utilize a temporally evolving and depth-dependent NTK. Counterintuitively, we find that FA networks trained in the rich regime exhibit more feature learning if initialized with smaller correlation between the forward and backward pass weights. GLNs admit a very simple formula for their lazy limit kernel and preserve conditional Gaussianity of their preactivations under gating functions. Error modulated Hebb rules show very small task-relevant alignment of their kernels and perform most task relevant learning in the last layer.

Wed 3 May 2:00 - 2:10 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 5% paper

Duc Hoang · Shiwei Liu · Radu Marculescu · Zhangyang Wang

Pruning neural networks at initialization (PaI) has received an upsurge of interest due to its end-to-end saving potential. PaI is able to find sparse subnetworks at initialization that can achieve comparable performance to the full networks. These methods can surpass the trivial baseline of random pruning but suffer from a significant performance gap compared to post-training pruning. Previous approaches firmly rely on weights, gradients, and sanity checks as primary signals when conducting PaI analysis. To better understand the underlying mechanism of PaI, we propose to interpret it through the lens of the Ramanujan Graph - a class of expander graphs that are sparse while being highly connected. It is often believed there should be a strong correlation between the Ramanujan graph and PaI since both are about finding sparse and well-connected neural networks. However, the finer-grained link relating highly sparse and connected networks to their relative performance (i.e., ranking of difference sparse structures at the same specific global sparsity) is still missing. We observe that not only the Ramanujan property for sparse networks shows no significant relationship to PaI’s relative performance, but maximizing it can also lead to the formation of pseudo-random graphs with no structural meanings. We reveal the underlying cause to be Ramanujan Graph’s strong assumption on the upper bound of the largest nontrivial eigenvalue (µˆ) of layers belonging to highly sparse networks. We hence propose Iterative Mean Difference of Bound (IMDB) as a mean to relax the µˆ upper bound. Likewise, we also show there exists a lower bound for µˆ, which we call the Normalized Random Coefficient (NaRC), that gives us an accurate assessment for when sparse but highly connected structure degenerates into naive randomness. Finally, we systematically analyze the behavior of various PaI methods and demonstrate the utility of our proposed metrics in characterizing PaI performance. We show that subnetworks preserving better the IMDB property correlate higher in performance, while NaRC provides us with a possible mean to locate the region where highly connected, highly sparse, and non-trivial Ramanujan expanders exist. Our code is available at:

Wed 3 May 2:10 - 2:20 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
A Closer Look at Model Adaptation using Feature Distortion and Simplicity Bias

Puja Trivedi · Danai Koutra · Jayaraman J. Thiagarajan

Advances in the expressivity of pretrained models have increased interest in the design of adaptation protocols which enable safe and effective transfer learning. Going beyond conventional linear probing (LP) and fine tuning (FT) strategies, protocols that can effectively control feature distortion, i.e., the failure to update features orthogonal to the in-distribution, have been found to achieve improved out-of-distribution generalization (OOD). In order to limit this distortion, the LP+FT protocol, which first learns a linear probe and then uses this initialization for subsequent FT, was proposed. However, in this paper, we find when adaptation protocols (LP, FT, LP+FT) are also evaluated on a variety of safety objectives (e.g., calibration, robustness, etc.), a complementary perspective to feature distortion is helpful to explain protocol behavior. To this end, we study the susceptibility of protocols to simplicity bias (SB), i.e. the well-known propensity of deep neural networks to rely upon simple features, as SB has recently been shown to underlie several problems in robust generalization. Using a synthetic dataset, we demonstrate the susceptibility of existing protocols to SB. Given the strong effectiveness of LP+FT, we then propose modified linear probes that help mitigate SB, and lead to better initializations for subsequent FT. We verify the effectiveness of the proposed LP+FT variants for decreasing SB in a controlled setting, and their ability to improve OOD generalization and safety on three adaptation datasets.