Oral 6 Track 4: Applications & Social Aspects of Machine Learning & General Machine Learning



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Wed 3 May 6:00 - 6:10 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
Binding Language Models in Symbolic Languages

Zhoujun Cheng · Tianbao Xie · Peng Shi · Chengzu Li · Rahul Nadkarni · Yushi Hu · Caiming Xiong · Dragomir Radev · Mari Ostendorf · Luke Zettlemoyer · Noah Smith · Tao Yu

Though end-to-end neural approaches have recently been dominating NLP tasks in both performance and ease-of-use, they lack interpretability and robustness. We propose Binder, a training-free neural-symbolic framework that maps the task input to a program, which (1) allows binding a unified API of language model (LM) functionalities to a programming language (e.g., SQL, Python) to extend its grammar coverage and thus tackle more diverse questions, (2) adopts an LM as both the program parser and the underlying model called by the API during execution, and (3) requires only a few in-context exemplar annotations. Specifically, we employ GPT-3 Codex as the LM. In the parsing stage, with only a few in-context exemplars, Codex is able to identify the part of the task input that cannot be answerable by the original programming language, correctly generate API calls to prompt Codex to solve the unanswerable part, and identify where to place the API calls while being compatible with the original grammar. In the execution stage, Codex can perform versatile functionalities (e.g., commonsense QA, information extraction) given proper prompts in the API calls. Binder achieves state-of-the-art results on WikiTableQuestions and TabFact datasets, with explicit output programs that benefit human debugging. Note that previous best systems are all finetuned on tens of thousands of task-specific samples, while Binder only uses dozens of annotations as in-context exemplars without any training. Our code is available at anonymized.

Wed 3 May 6:10 - 6:20 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
MeshDiffusion: Score-based Generative 3D Mesh Modeling

Zhen Liu · Yao Feng · Michael J Black · Derek Nowrouzezahrai · Liam Paull · Weiyang Liu

We consider the task of generating realistic 3D shapes, which is useful for a variety of applications such as automatic scene generation and physical simulation. Compared to other 3D representations like voxels and point clouds, meshes are more desirable in practice, because (1) they enable easy and arbitrary manipulation of shapes for relighting and simulation, and (2) they can fully leverage the power of modern graphics pipelines which are mostly optimized for meshes. Previous scalable methods for generating meshes typically rely on sub-optimal post-processing, and they tend to produce overly-smooth or noisy surfaces without fine-grained geometric details. To overcome these shortcomings, we take advantage of the graph structure of meshes and use a simple yet very effective generative modeling method to generate 3D meshes. Specifically, we represent meshes with deformable tetrahedral grids, and then train a diffusion model on this direct parameterization. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our model on multiple generative tasks.

Wed 3 May 6:20 - 6:30 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 5% paper
The Modality Focusing Hypothesis: Towards Understanding Crossmodal Knowledge Distillation

Zihui Xue · Zhengqi Gao · Sucheng Ren · Hang Zhao

Crossmodal knowledge distillation (KD) extends traditional knowledge distillation to the area of multimodal learning and demonstrates great success in various applications. To achieve knowledge transfer across modalities, a pretrained network from one modality is adopted as the teacher to provide supervision signals to a student network learning from the other modality. In contrast to the empirical success reported in prior works, the working mechanism of crossmodal KD remains a mystery. In this paper, we present a thorough understanding of crossmodal KD. We begin by providing two failure cases and demonstrate that KD is not a universal cure in crossmodal knowledge transfer. We then present the modality Venn diagram to understand modality relationships and the modality focusing hypothesis revealing the decisive factor in the efficacy of crossmodal KD. Experimental results on 6 multimodal datasets help justify our hypothesis, diagnose failure cases, and point directions to improve crossmodal knowledge transfer in the future.

Wed 3 May 6:30 - 6:40 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 5% paper
AutoGT: Automated Graph Transformer Architecture Search

Zizhao Zhang · Xin Wang · Chaoyu Guan · Ziwei Zhang · Haoyang Li · Wenwu Zhu

Although Transformer architectures have been successfully applied to graph data with the advent of Graph Transformer, current design of Graph Transformer still heavily relies on human labor and expertise knowledge to decide proper neural architectures and suitable graph encoding strategies at each Transformer layer. In literature, there have been some works on automated design of Transformers focusing on non-graph data such as texts and images without considering graph encoding strategies, which fail to handle the non-euclidean graph data. In this paper, we study the problem of automated graph Transformer, for the first time. However, solving these problems poses the following challenges: i) how can we design a unified search space for graph Transformer, and ii) how to deal with the coupling relations between Transformer architectures and the graph encodings of each Transformer layer. To address these challenges, we propose Automated Graph Transformer (AutoGT), a neural architecture search framework that can automatically discover the optimal graph Transformer architectures by joint optimization of Transformer architecture and graph encoding strategies. Specifically, we first propose a unified graph Transformer formulation that can represent most of state-of-the-art graph Transformer architectures. Based upon the unified formulation, we further design the graph Transformer search space that includes both candidate architectures and various graph encodings. To handle the coupling relations, we propose a novel encoding-aware performance estimation strategy by gradually training and splitting the supernets according to the correlations between graph encodings and architectures. The proposed strategy can provide a more consistent and fine-grained performance prediction when evaluating the jointly optimized graph encodings and architectures. Extensive experiments and ablation studies show that our proposed AutoGT gains sufficient improvement over state-of-the-art hand-crafted baselines on all datasets, demonstrating its effectiveness and wide applicability.

Wed 3 May 6:40 - 6:50 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
Zero-Shot Image Restoration Using Denoising Diffusion Null-Space Model

Yinhuai Wang · Jiwen Yu · Jian Zhang

Most existing Image Restoration (IR) models are task-specific, which can not be generalized to different degradation operators. In this work, we propose the Denoising Diffusion Null-Space Model (DDNM), a novel zero-shot framework for arbitrary linear IR problems, including but not limited to image super-resolution, colorization, inpainting, compressed sensing, and deblurring. DDNM only needs a pre-trained off-the-shelf diffusion model as the generative prior, without any extra training or network modifications. By refining only the null-space contents during the reverse diffusion process, we can yield diverse results satisfying both data consistency and realness. We further propose an enhanced and robust version, dubbed DDNM+, to support noisy restoration and improve restoration quality for hard tasks. Our experiments on several IR tasks reveal that DDNM outperforms other state-of-the-art zero-shot IR methods. We also demonstrate that DDNM+ can solve complex real-world applications, e.g., old photo restoration.

Wed 3 May 6:50 - 7:00 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
LightGCL: Simple Yet Effective Graph Contrastive Learning for Recommendation

Xuheng Cai · Chao Huang · Lianghao Xia · Xubin Ren

Graph neural network (GNN) is a powerful learning approach for graph-based recommender systems. Recently, GNNs integrated with contrastive learning have shown superior performance in recommendation with their data augmentation schemes, aiming at dealing with highly sparse data. Despite their success, most existing graph contrastive learning methods either perform stochastic augmentation (e.g., node/edge perturbation) on the user-item interaction graph, or rely on the heuristic-based augmentation techniques (e.g., user clustering) for generating contrastive views. We argue that these methods cannot well preserve the intrinsic semantic structures and are easily biased by the noise perturbation. In this paper, we propose a simple yet effective graph contrastive learning paradigm LightGCL that mitigates these issues impairing the generality and robustness of CL-based recommenders. Our model exclusively utilizes singular value decomposition for contrastive augmentation, which enables the unconstrained structural refinement with global collaborative relation modeling. Experiments conducted on several benchmark datasets demonstrate the significant improvement in performance of our model over the state-of-the-arts. Further analyses demonstrate the superiority of LightGCL's robustness against data sparsity and popularity bias. The source code of our model is available at

Wed 3 May 7:00 - 7:10 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
Certified Training: Small Boxes are All You Need

Mark N Müller · Franziska Eckert · Marc Fischer · Martin Vechev

To obtain, deterministic guarantees of adversarial robustness, specialized training methods are used. We propose, SABR, a novel such certified training method, based on the key insight that propagating interval bounds for a small but carefully selected subset of the adversarial input region is sufficient to approximate the worst-case loss over the whole region while significantly reducing approximation errors. We show in an extensive empirical evaluation that SABR outperforms existing certified defenses in terms of both standard and certifiable accuracies across perturbation magnitudes and datasets, pointing to a new class of certified training methods promising to alleviate the robustness-accuracy trade-off.

Wed 3 May 7:10 - 7:20 PDT

In-Person Oral presentation / top 25% paper
Inequality phenomenon in $l_{\infty}$-adversarial training, and its unrealized threats

Ranjie Duan · YueFeng Chen · Yao Zhu · Xiaojun Jia · Rong Zhang · Hui Xue'

The appearance of adversarial examples raises attention from both academia and industry. Along with the attack-defense arms race, adversarial training is the most effective against adversarial examples.However, we find inequality phenomena occur during the $l_{\infty}$-adversarial training, that few features dominate the prediction made by the adversarially trained model. We systematically evaluate such inequality phenomena by extensive experiments and find such phenomena become more obvious when performing adversarial training with increasing adversarial strength (evaluated by $\epsilon$). We hypothesize such inequality phenomena make $l_{\infty}$-adversarially trained model less reliable than the standard trained model when few ``important features" are influenced. To validate our hypothesis, we proposed two simple attacks that either perturb or replace important features with noise or occlusion. Experiments show that $l_{\infty}$-adversarially trained model can be easily attacked when the few important features are influenced. Our work shed light on the limitation of the practicality of $l_{\infty}$-adversarial training.