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Poster Session 4



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Virtual presentation / poster accept
Mind the Pool: Convolutional Neural Networks Can Overfit Input Size

Bilal Alsallakh · David Yan · Narine Kokhlikyan · Vivek Miglani · Orion Reblitz-Richardson · Pamela Bhattacharya

We demonstrate how convolutional neural networks can overfit the input size: The accuracy drops significantly when using certain sizes, compared with favorable ones. This issue is inherent to pooling arithmetic, with standard downsampling layers playing a major role in favoring certain input sizes and skewing the weights accordingly. We present a solution to this problem by depriving these layers from the arithmetic cues they use to overfit the input size. Through various examples, we show how our proposed spatially-balanced pooling improves the generalization of the network to arbitrary input sizes and its robustness to translational shifts.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Generalizing and Decoupling Neural Collapse via Hyperspherical Uniformity Gap

Weiyang Liu · Longhui Yu · Adrian Weller · Bernhard Schoelkopf

The neural collapse (NC) phenomenon describes an underlying geometric symmetry for deep neural networks, where both deeply learned features and classifiers converge to a simplex equiangular tight frame. It has been shown that both cross-entropy loss and mean square error can provably lead to NC. We remove NC's key assumption on the feature dimension and the number of classes, and then present a generalized neural collapse (GNC) hypothesis that effectively subsumes the original NC. Inspired by how NC characterizes the training target of neural networks, we decouple GNC into two objectives: minimal intra-class variability and maximal inter-class separability. We then use hyperspherical uniformity (which characterizes the degree of uniformity on the unit hypersphere) as a unified framework to quantify these two objectives. Finally, we propose a general objective -- hyperspherical uniformity gap (HUG), which is defined by the difference between inter-class and intra-class hyperspherical uniformity. HUG not only provably converges to GNC, but also decouples GNC into two separate objectives. Unlike cross-entropy loss that couples intra-class compactness and inter-class separability, HUG enjoys more flexibility and serves as a good alternative loss function. Empirical results show that HUG works well in terms of generalization and robustness.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
f-DM: A Multi-stage Diffusion Model via Progressive Signal Transformation

Jiatao Gu · Shuangfei Zhai · Yizhe Zhang · MIGUEL ANGEL BAUTISTA MARTIN · Joshua Susskind

Diffusion models (DMs) have recently emerged as SoTA tools for generative modeling in various domains. Standard DMs can be viewed as an instantiation of hierarchical variational autoencoders (VAEs) where the latent variables are inferred from input-centered Gaussian distributions with fixed scales and variances. Unlike VAEs, this formulation constrains DMs from changing the latent spaces andlearning abstract representations. In this work, we propose f-DM, a generalized family of DMs which allows progressive signal transformation. More precisely, we extend DMs to incorporate a set of (hand-designed or learned) transformations, where the transformed input is the mean of each diffusion step. We propose a generalized formulation and derive the corresponding de-noising objective with a modified sampling algorithm. As a demonstration, we apply f-DM in image generation tasks with a range of functions, including down-sampling, blurring, and learned transformations based on the encoder of pretrained VAEs. In addition, we identify the importance of adjusting the noise levels whenever the signal is sub-sampled and propose a simple rescaling recipe. f-DM can produce high-quality samples on standard image generation benchmarks like FFHQ, AFHQ, LSUN, and ImageNet with better efficiency and semantic interpretation.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Compositional Semantic Parsing with Large Language Models

Andrew Drozdov · Nathanael Schaerli · Ekin Akyürek · Nathan Scales · Xinying Song · Xinyun Chen · Olivier Bousquet · Denny Zhou

Humans can reason compositionally when presented with new tasks. Previous research shows that appropriate prompting techniques enable large language models (LLMs) to solve artificial compositional generalization tasks such as SCAN. In this work, we identify additional challenges in more realistic semantic parsing tasks with larger vocabulary and refine these prompting techniques to address them. Our best method is based on least-to-most prompting: it decomposes the problem using prompting-based syntactic parsing, then uses this decomposition to select appropriate exemplars and to sequentially generate the semantic parse. This method allows us to set a new state of the art for CFQ while requiring only 1% of the training data used by traditional approaches. Due to the general nature of our approach, we expect similar efforts will lead to new results in other tasks and domains, especially for knowledge-intensive applications.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
NANSY++: Unified Voice Synthesis with Neural Analysis and Synthesis

Hyeong-Seok Choi · Jinhyeok Yang · Juheon Lee · Hyeongju Kim

Various applications of voice synthesis have been developed independently despite the fact that they generate “voice” as output in common. In addition, most of the voice synthesis models still require a large number of audio data paired with annotated labels (e.g., text transcription and music score) for training. To this end, we propose a unified framework of synthesizing and manipulating voice signals from analysis features, dubbed NANSY++. The backbone network of NANSY++ is trained in a self-supervised manner that does not require any annotations paired with audio. After training the backbone network, we efficiently tackle four voice applications - i.e. voice conversion, text-to-speech, singing voice synthesis, and voice designing - by partially modeling the analysis features required for each task. Extensive experiments show that the proposed framework offers competitive advantages such as controllability, data efficiency, and fast training convergence, while providing high quality synthesis. Audio samples:

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Principal Components Bias in Over-parameterized Linear Models, and its Manifestation in Deep Neural Networks

Guy Hacohen · Daphna Weinshall

Recent work suggests that convolutional neural networks of different architectures learn to classify images in the same order. To understand this phenomenon, we revisit the over-parametrized deep linear network model. Our analysis reveals that, when the hidden layers are wide enough, the convergence rate of this model's parameters is exponentially faster along the directions of the larger principal components of the data, at a rate governed by the corresponding singular values. We term this convergence pattern the Principal Components bias (PC-bias). Empirically, we show how the PC-bias streamlines the order of learning of both linear and non-linear networks, more prominently at earlier stages of learning. We then compare our results to the simplicity bias, showing that both biases can be seen independently, and affect the order of learning in different ways. Finally, we discuss how the PC-bias may explain some benefits of early stopping and its connection to PCA, and why deep networks converge more slowly with random labels.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Revisiting Populations in multi-agent Communication

Paul Michel · Mathieu Rita · Kory Mathewson · Olivier Tieleman · Angeliki Lazaridou

Despite evidence from cognitive sciences that larger groups of speakers tend to develop more structured languages in human communication, scaling up to populations has failed to yield significant benefits in emergent multi-agent communication. In this paper we advocate for an alternate population-level training paradigm for referential games based on the idea of "partitioning" the agents into sender-receiver pairs and limiting co-adaptation across pairs. We show that this results in optimizing a different objective at the population level, where agents maximize (1) their respective "internal" communication accuracy and (2) some measure of alignment between agents. In experiments, we find that this leads to the emergence of languages that are significantly more compositional. Moreover, when agents are trained in populations that are not fully connected (ie. not all agent pairs interact at training time), this approach reduces multi-linguality and improves zero-shot communication with new agents (ie. agents are able to communicate successfully with other agents outside their training partners).

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Topologically penalized regression on manifolds

Olympio Hacquard · Krishnakumar Balasubramanian · Gilles Blanchard · Clément Levrard · Wolfgang Polonik

We study a regression problem on a compact manifold M. In order to take advantage of the underlying geometry and topology of the data, the regression task is performed on the basis of the first several eigenfunctions of the Laplace-Beltrami operator of the manifold, that are regularized with topological penalties. The proposed penalties are based on the topology of the sub-level sets of either the eigenfunctions or the estimated function. The overall approach is shown to yield promising and competitive performance on various applications to both synthetic and real data sets. We also provide theoretical guarantees on the regression function estimates, on both its prediction error and its smoothness (in a topological sense). Taken together, these results support the relevance of our approach in the case where the targeted function is “topologically smooth”.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Compositional Prompt Tuning with Motion Cues for Open-vocabulary Video Relation Detection

Kaifeng Gao · Long Chen · Hanwang Zhang · Jun Xiao · Qianru Sun

Prompt tuning with large-scale pretrained vision-language models empowers open-vocabulary prediction trained on limited base categories, e.g., object classification and detection. In this paper, we propose compositional prompt tuning with motion cues: an extended prompt tuning paradigm for compositional predictions of video data. In particular, we present Relation Prompt (RePro) for Open-vocabulary Video Visual Relation Detection (Open-VidVRD), where conventional prompt tuning is easily biased to certain subject-object combinations and motion patterns. To this end, RePro addresses the two technical challenges of Open-VidVRD: 1) the prompt tokens should respect the two different semantic roles of subject and object, and 2) the tuning should account for the diverse spatiotemporal motion patterns of the subject-object compositions. Our RePro achieves a new state-of-the-art performance on two VidVRD benchmarks of not only the base training object and predicate categories, but also the unseen ones. Extensive ablations also demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed compositional and multi-mode design of prompt. Code is available at

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
D4AM: A General Denoising Framework for Downstream Acoustic Models

Chi-Chang Lee · Yu Tsao · Hsin-Min Wang · Chu-Song Chen

The performance of acoustic models degrades notably in noisy environments. Speech enhancement (SE) can be used as a front-end strategy to aid automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems. However, existing training objectives of SE methods are not fully effective at integrating speech-text and noise-clean paired data for training toward unseen ASR systems. In this study, we propose a general denoising framework, D4AM, for various downstream acoustic models. Our framework fine-tunes the SE model with the backward gradient according to a specific acoustic model and the corresponding classification objective. In addition, our method aims to consider the regression objective as an auxiliary loss to make the SE model generalize to other unseen acoustic models. To jointly train an SE unit with regression and classification objectives, D4AM uses an adjustment scheme to directly estimate suitable weighting coefficients rather than undergoing a grid search process with additional training costs. The adjustment scheme consists of two parts: gradient calibration and regression objective weighting. The experimental results show that D4AM can consistently and effectively provide improvements to various unseen acoustic models and outperforms other combination setups. Specifically, when evaluated on the Google ASR API with real noisy data completely unseen during SE training, D4AM achieves a relative WER reduction of 24.65% compared with the direct feeding of noisy input. To our knowledge, this is the first work that deploys an effective combination scheme of regression (denoising) and classification (ASR) objectives to derive a general pre-processor applicable to various unseen ASR systems. Our code is available at

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Sparse Token Transformer with Attention Back Tracking

Heejun Lee · Minki Kang · Youngwan Lee · Sung Ju Hwang

Despite the success of Transformers in various applications from text, vision, and speech domains, they are yet to become standard architectures for mobile and edge device applications due to their heavy memory and computational requirements. While there exist many different approaches to reduce the complexities of the Transformers, such as the pruning of the weights/attentions/tokens, quantization, and distillation, we focus on token pruning, which reduces not only the complexity of the attention operations, but also the linear layers, which have non-negligible computational costs. However, previous token pruning approaches often remove tokens during the feed-forward stage without consideration of their impact on later layers' attentions, which has a potential risk of dropping out important tokens for the given task. To tackle this issue, we propose an attention back-tracking method that tracks the importance of each attention in a Transformer architecture from the outputs to the inputs, to preserve the tokens that have a large impact on the final predictions. We experimentally validate the effectiveness of the method on both NLP and CV benchmarks, using Transformer architectures for both domains, and the results show that the proposed attention back-tracking allows the model to better retain the full models' performance even at high sparsity rates, significantly outperforming all baselines. Qualitative analysis of the examples further shows that our method does preserve semantically meaningful tokens.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Meta Learning to Bridge Vision and Language Models for Multimodal Few-Shot Learning

Ivona Najdenkoska · Xiantong Zhen · Marcel Worring

Multimodal few-shot learning is challenging due to the large domain gap between vision and language modalities. Existing methods are trying to communicate visual concepts as prompts to frozen language models, but rely on hand-engineered task induction to reduce the hypothesis space. To make the whole process learnable, we introduce a multimodal meta-learning approach. Specifically, our approach decomposes the training of the model into a set of related multimodal few-shot tasks. We define a meta-mapper network, acting as a meta-learner, to efficiently bridge frozen large-scale vision and language models and leverage their already learned capacity. By updating the learnable parameters only of the meta-mapper, it learns to accrue shared meta-knowledge among these tasks. Thus, it can rapidly adapt to newly presented samples with only a few gradient updates. Importantly, it induces the task in a completely data-driven manner, with no need for a hand-engineered task induction. We evaluate our approach on recently proposed multimodal few-shot benchmarks, measuring how rapidly the model can bind novel visual concepts to words and answer visual questions by observing only a limited set of labeled examples. The experimental results show that our meta-learning approach outperforms the baseline across multiple datasets and various training settings while being computationally more efficient.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Video Scene Graph Generation from Single-Frame Weak Supervision

Siqi Chen · Jun Xiao · Long Chen

Video scene graph generation (VidSGG) aims to generate a sequence of graph-structure representations for the given video. However, all existing VidSGG methods are fully-supervised, i.e., they need dense and costly manual annotations. In this paper, we propose the first weakly-supervised VidSGG task with only single-frame weak supervision: SF-VidSGG. By ``weakly-supervised", we mean that SF-VidSGG relaxes the training supervision from two different levels: 1) It only provides single-frame annotations instead of all-frame annotations. 2) The single-frame ground-truth annotation is still a weak image SGG annotation, i.e., an unlocalized scene graph. To solve this new task, we also propose a novel Pseudo Label Assignment based method, dubbed as PLA. PLA is a two-stage method, which generates pseudo visual relation annotations for the given video at the first stage, and then trains a fully-supervised VidSGG model with these pseudo labels. Specifically, PLA consists of three modules: an object PLA module, a predicate PLA module, and a future predicate prediction (FPP) module. Firstly, in the object PLA, we localize all objects for every frame. Then, in the predicate PLA, we design two different teachers to assign pseudo predicate labels. Lastly, in the FPP module, we fusion these two predicate pseudo labels by the regularity of relation transition in videos. Extensive ablations and results on the benchmark Action Genome have demonstrated the effectiveness of our PLA.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Personalized Reward Learning with Interaction-Grounded Learning (IGL)

Jessica Maghakian · Paul Mineiro · Kishan Panaganti · Mark Rucker · Akanksha Saran · Cheng Tan

In an era of countless content offerings, recommender systems alleviate information overload by providing users with personalized content suggestions. Due to the scarcity of explicit user feedback, modern recommender systems typically optimize for the same fixed combination of implicit feedback signals across all users. However, this approach disregards a growing body of work highlighting that (i) implicit signals can be used by users in diverse ways, signaling anything from satisfaction to active dislike, and (ii) different users communicate preferences in different ways. We propose applying the recent Interaction Grounded Learning (IGL) paradigm to address the challenge of learning representations of diverse user communication modalities. Rather than requiring a fixed, human-designed reward function, IGL is able to learn personalized reward functions for different users and then optimize directly for the latent user satisfaction. We demonstrate the success of IGL with experiments using simulations as well as with real-world production traces.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Learning Locality and Isotropy in Dialogue Modeling

Han Wu · Haochen Tan · Mingjie Zhan · Gangming Zhao · Shaoqing Lu · Ding Liang · Linqi Song

Existing dialogue modeling methods have achieved promising performance on various dialogue tasks with the aid of Transformer and the large-scale pre-trained language models. However, some recent studies revealed that the context representations produced by these methods suffer the problem of anisotropy. In this paper, we find that the generated representations are also not conversational, losing the conversation structure information during the context modeling stage. To this end, we identify two properties in dialogue modeling, i.e., locality and isotropy, and present a simple method for dialogue representation calibration, namely SimDRC, to build isotropic and conversational feature spaces. Experimental results show that our approach significantly outperforms current state-of-the-art models on three open-domain dialogue tasks with eight benchmarks. More in-depth analyses further confirm the effectiveness of our proposed approach. We release the code at

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Latent Graph Inference using Product Manifolds

Haitz Sáez de Ocáriz Borde · Anees Kazi · Federico Barbero · Pietro Lio

Graph Neural Networks usually rely on the assumption that the graph topology is available to the network as well as optimal for the downstream task. Latent graph inference allows models to dynamically learn the intrinsic graph structure of problems where the connectivity patterns of data may not be directly accessible. In this work, we generalize the discrete Differentiable Graph Module (dDGM) for latent graph learning. The original dDGM architecture used the Euclidean plane to encode latent features based on which the latent graphs were generated. By incorporating Riemannian geometry into the model and generating more complex embedding spaces, we can improve the performance of the latent graph inference system. In particular, we propose a computationally tractable approach to produce product manifolds of constant curvature model spaces that can encode latent features of varying structure. The latent representations mapped onto the inferred product manifold are used to compute richer similarity measures that are leveraged by the latent graph learning model to obtain optimized latent graphs. Moreover, the curvature of the product manifold is learned during training alongside the rest of the network parameters and based on the downstream task, rather than it being a static embedding space. Our novel approach is tested on a wide range of datasets, and outperforms the original dDGM model.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Spikformer: When Spiking Neural Network Meets Transformer

Zhaokun Zhou · Yuesheng Zhu · Chao He · Yaowei Wang · shuicheng YAN · Yonghong Tian · Yuan Li

We consider two biologically plausible structures, the Spiking Neural Network (SNN) and the self-attention mechanism. The former offers an energy-efficient and event-driven paradigm for deep learning, while the latter has the ability to capture feature dependencies, enabling Transformer to achieve good performance. It is intuitively promising to explore the marriage between them. In this paper, we consider leveraging both self-attention capability and biological properties of SNNs, and propose a novel Spiking Self Attention (SSA) as well as a powerful framework, named Spiking Transformer (Spikformer). The SSA mechanism in Spikformer models the sparse visual feature by using spike-form Query, Key, and Value without softmax. Since its computation is sparse and avoids multiplication, SSA is efficient and has low computational energy consumption. It is shown that Spikformer with SSA can outperform the state-of-the-art SNNs-like frameworks in image classification on both neuromorphic and static datasets. Spikformer (66.3M parameters) with comparable size to SEW-ResNet-152 (60.2M,69.26%) can achieve 74.81% top1 accuracy on ImageNet using 4 time steps, which is the state-of-the-art in directly trained SNNs models. Code is avaiable at

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Specformer: Spectral Graph Neural Networks Meet Transformers

Deyu Bo · Chuan Shi · Lele Wang · Renjie Liao

Spectral graph neural networks (GNNs) learn graph representations via spectral-domain graph convolutions. However, most existing spectral graph filters are scalar-to-scalar functions, i.e., mapping a single eigenvalue to a single filtered value, thus ignoring the global pattern of the spectrum. Furthermore, these filters are often constructed based on some fixed-order polynomials, which have limited expressiveness and flexibility. To tackle these issues, we introduce Specformer, which effectively encodes the set of all eigenvalues and performs self-attention in the spectral domain, leading to a learnable set-to-set spectral filter. We also design a decoder with learnable bases to enable non-local graph convolution. Importantly, Specformer is equivariant to permutation. By stacking multiple Specformer layers, one can build a powerful spectral GNN. On synthetic datasets, we show that our Specformer can better recover ground-truth spectral filters than other spectral GNNs. Extensive experiments of both node-level and graph-level tasks on real-world graph datasets show that our Specformer outperforms state-of-the-art GNNs and learns meaningful spectrum patterns. Code and data are available at

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
A Unified Algebraic Perspective on Lipschitz Neural Networks

Alexandre Araujo · Aaron Havens · Blaise Delattre · Alexandre Allauzen · Bin Hu

Important research efforts have focused on the design and training of neural networks with a controlled Lipschitz constant. The goal is to increase and sometimes guarantee the robustness against adversarial attacks. Recent promising techniques draw inspirations from different backgrounds to design 1-Lipschitz neural networks, just to name a few: convex potential layers derive from the discretization of continuous dynamical systems, Almost-Orthogonal-Layer proposes a tailored method for matrix rescaling. However, it is today important to consider the recent and promising contributions in the field under a common theoretical lens to better design new and improved layers. This paper introduces a novel algebraic perspective unifying various types of 1-Lipschitz neural networks, including the ones previously mentioned, along with methods based on orthogonality and spectral methods. Interestingly, we show that many existing techniques can be derived and generalized via finding analytical solutions of a common semidefinite programming (SDP) condition. We also prove that AOL biases the scaled weight to the ones which are close to the set of orthogonal matrices in a certain mathematical manner. Moreover, our algebraic condition, combined with the Gershgorin circle theorem, readily leads to new and diverse parameterizations for 1-Lipschitz network layers. Our approach, called SDP-based Lipschitz Layers (SLL), allows us to design non-trivial yet efficient generalization of convex potential layers. Finally, the comprehensive set of experiments on image classification shows that SLLs outperform previous approaches on certified robust accuracy. Code is available at

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
Git Re-Basin: Merging Models modulo Permutation Symmetries

Samuel Ainsworth · Jonathan Hayase · Siddhartha Srinivasa

The success of deep learning is due in large part to our ability to solve certain massive non-convex optimization problems with relative ease. Though non-convex optimization is NP-hard, simple algorithms -- often variants of stochastic gradient descent -- exhibit surprising effectiveness in fitting large neural networks in practice. We argue that neural network loss landscapes often contain (nearly) a single basin after accounting for all possible permutation symmetries of hidden units a la Entezari et al. 2021. We introduce three algorithms to permute the units of one model to bring them into alignment with a reference model in order to merge the two models in weight space. This transformation produces a functionally equivalent set of weights that lie in an approximately convex basin near the reference model. Experimentally, we demonstrate the single basin phenomenon across a variety of model architectures and datasets, including the first (to our knowledge) demonstration of zero-barrier linear mode connectivity between independently trained ResNet models on CIFAR-10. Additionally, we identify intriguing phenomena relating model width and training time to mode connectivity. Finally, we discuss shortcomings of the linear mode connectivity hypothesis, including a counterexample to the single basin theory.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
The Lazy Neuron Phenomenon: On Emergence of Activation Sparsity in Transformers

Zonglin Li · Chong You · Srinadh Bhojanapalli · Daliang Li · Ankit Singh Rawat · Sashank Reddi · Ke Ye · Felix Chern · Felix Yu · Ruiqi Guo · Sanjiv Kumar

This paper studies a curious phenomenon that machine learning model with Transformer architectures have sparse activation maps. By activation map we refer to the intermediate output of the multi-layer perceptrons (MLPs) after a ReLU activation function, and by "sparse" we mean that on average very few entries (e.g., 3.0% for T5-Base and 6.3% for ViT-B16) are nonzero for each input to MLP. Moreover, larger Transformers with more layers and wider MLP hidden dimensions are sparser as measured by the percentage of nonzero entries. Through extensive experiments we demonstrate that the emergence of sparsity is a prevalent phenomenon that occurs for both natural language processing and vision tasks, on both training and evaluation data, for Transformers of various configurations, at layers of all depth levels. We discuss how sparsity immediately implies a way to significantly reduce the FLOP count and improve efficiency for Transformers. Moreover, we demonstrate perhaps surprisingly that enforcing an even sparser activation via Top-k thresholding with a small k brings a collection of desired properties, namely less sensitivity to noisy training data, more robustness to input corruptions, and better calibration for their prediction confidence.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Don’t forget the nullspace! Nullspace occupancy as a mechanism for out of distribution failure

Daksh Idnani · Vivek Madan · Naman Goyal · David J Schwab · Shanmukha Ramakrishna Vedantam

Out of distribution (OoD) generalization has received considerable interest in recent years. In this work, we identify a particular failure mode of OoD generalization for discriminative classifiers that is based on test data (from a new domain) lying in the nullspace of features learnt from source data. We demonstrate the existence of this failure mode across multiple networks trained across RotatedMNIST, PACS, TerraIncognita, DomainNet and ImageNet-R datasets. We then study different choices for characterizing the feature space and show that projecting intermediate representations onto the span of directions that obtain maximum training accuracy provides consistent improvements in OoD performance. Finally, we show that such nullspace behavior also provides an insight into neural networks trained on poisoned data. We hope our work galvanizes interest in the relationship between the nullspace occupancy failure mode and generalization.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept

Bowen Zhao · Chen Chen · Shu-Tao Xia

Fully test-time adaptation aims at adapting a pre-trained model to the test stream during real-time inference, which is urgently required when the test distribution differs from the training distribution. Several efforts have been devoted to improving adaptation performance. However, we find that two unfavorable defects are concealed in the prevalent adaptation methodologies like test-time batch normalization (BN) and self-learning. First, we reveal that the normalization statistics in test-time BN are completely affected by the currently received test samples, resulting in inaccurate estimates. Second, we show that during test-time adaptation, the parameter update is biased towards some dominant classes. In addition to the extensively studied test stream with independent and class-balanced samples, we further observe that the defects can be exacerbated in more complicated test environments, such as (time) dependent or class-imbalanced data. We observe that previous approaches work well in certain scenarios while show performance degradation in others due to their faults. In this paper, we provide a plug-in solution called DELTA for Degradation-freE fuLly Test-time Adaptation, which consists of two components: (i) Test-time Batch Renormalization (TBR), introduced to improve the estimated normalization statistics. (ii) Dynamic Online re-weighTing (DOT), designed to address the class bias within optimization. We investigate various test-time adaptation methods on three commonly used datasets with four scenarios, and a newly introduced real-world dataset. DELTA can help them deal with all scenarios simultaneously, leading to SOTA performance.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Extremely Simple Activation Shaping for Out-of-Distribution Detection

Andrija Djurisic · Nebojsa Bozanic · Arjun Ashok · Rosanne Liu

The separation between training and deployment of machine learning models implies that not all scenarios encountered in deployment can be anticipated during training, and therefore relying solely on advancements in training has its limits. Out-of-distribution (OOD) detection is an important area that stress-tests a model’s ability to handle unseen situations: Do models know when they don’t know? Existing OOD detection methods either incur extra training steps, additional data or make nontrivial modifications to the trained network. In contrast, in this work, we propose an extremely simple, post-hoc, on-the-fly activation shaping method, ASH, where a large portion (e.g. 90%) of a sample’s activation at a late layer is removed, and the rest (e.g. 10%) simplified or lightly adjusted. The shaping is applied at inference time, and does not require any statistics calculated from training data. Experiments show that such a simple treatment enhances in-distribution and out- of-distribution sample distinction so as to allow state-of-the-art OOD detection on ImageNet, and does not noticeably deteriorate the in-distribution accuracy. Video, animation and code can be found at:

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
A Unified Framework for Soft Threshold Pruning

Yanqi Chen · Zhengyu Ma · Wei Fang · Xiawu Zheng · Zhaofei Yu · Yonghong Tian

Soft threshold pruning is among the cutting-edge pruning methods with state-of-the-art performance. However, previous methods either perform aimless searching on the threshold scheduler or simply set the threshold trainable, lacking theoretical explanation from a unified perspective. In this work, we reformulate soft threshold pruning as an implicit optimization problem solved using the Iterative Shrinkage-Thresholding Algorithm (ISTA), a classic method from the fields of sparse recovery and compressed sensing. Under this theoretical framework, all threshold tuning strategies proposed in previous studies of soft threshold pruning are concluded as different styles of tuning $L_1$-regularization term. We further derive an optimal threshold scheduler through an in-depth study of threshold scheduling based on our framework. This scheduler keeps $L_1$-regularization coefficient stable, implying a time-invariant objective function from the perspective of optimization. In principle, the derived pruning algorithm could sparsify any mathematical model trained via SGD. We conduct extensive experiments and verify its state-of-the-art performance on both Artificial Neural Networks (ResNet-50 and MobileNet-V1) and Spiking Neural Networks (SEW ResNet-18) on ImageNet datasets. On the basis of this framework, we derive a family of pruning methods, including sparsify-during-training, early pruning, and pruning at initialization. The code is available at

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Modelling Long Range Dependencies in $N$D: From Task-Specific to a General Purpose CNN

David Knigge · David W. Romero · Albert Gu · Efstratios Gavves · Erik Bekkers · Jakub Tomczak · Mark Hoogendoorn · Jan-jakob Sonke

Performant Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) architectures must be tailored to specific tasks in order to consider the length, resolution, and dimensionality of the input data. In this work, we tackle the need for problem-specific CNN architectures. We present the Continuous Convolutional Neural Network (CCNN): a single CNN able to process data of arbitrary resolution, dimensionality and length without any structural changes. Its key component are its continuous convolutional kernels which model long-range dependencies at every layer, and thus remove the need of current CNN architectures for task-dependent downsampling and depths. We showcase the generality of our method by using the same architecture for tasks on sequential ($1{\rm D}$), visual ($2{\rm D}$) and point-cloud ($3{\rm D}$) data. Our CCNN matches and often outperforms the current state-of-the-art across all tasks considered.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Massively Scaling Heteroscedastic Classifiers

Mark Collier · Rodolphe Jenatton · Basil Mustafa · Neil Houlsby · Jesse Berent · Efi Kokiopoulou

Heteroscedastic classifiers, which learn a multivariate Gaussian distribution over prediction logits, have been shown to perform well on image classification problems with hundreds to thousands of classes. However, compared to standard classifiers, they introduce extra parameters that scale linearly with the number of classes. This makes them infeasible to apply to larger-scale problems. In addition heteroscedastic classifiers introduce a critical temperature hyperparameter which must be tuned. We propose HET-XL, a heteroscedastic classifier whose parameter count when compared to a standard classifier scales independently of the number of classes. In our large-scale settings, we show that we can remove the need to tune the temperature hyperparameter, by directly learning it on the training data. On large image classification datasets with up to 4B images and 30k classes our method requires 14X fewer additional parameters, does not require tuning the temperature on a held-out set and performs consistently better than the baseline heteroscedastic classifier. HET-XL improves ImageNet 0-shot classification in a multimodal contrastive learning setup which can be viewed as a 3.5 billion class classification problem.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
That Label's got Style: Handling Label Style Bias for Uncertain Image Segmentation

Kilian Zepf · Eike Petersen · Jes Frellsen · Aasa Feragen

Segmentation uncertainty models predict a distribution over plausible segmentations for a given input, which they learn from the annotator variation in the training set. However, in practice these annotations can differ systematically in the way they are generated, for example through the use of different labeling tools. This results in datasets that contain both data variability and differing label styles. In this paper, we demonstrate that applying state-of-the-art segmentation uncertainty models on such datasets can lead to model bias caused by the different label styles. We present an updated modelling objective conditioning on labeling style for aleatoric uncertainty estimation, and modify two state-of-the-art-architectures for segmentation uncertainty accordingly. We show with extensive experiments that this method reduces label style bias, while improving segmentation performance, increasing the applicability of segmentation uncertainty models in the wild. We curate two datasets, with annotations in different label styles, which we will make publicly available along with our code upon publication.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
What Can we Learn From The Selective Prediction And Uncertainty Estimation Performance Of 523 Imagenet Classifiers?

Ido Galil · Mohammed Dabbah · Ran El-Yaniv

When deployed for risk-sensitive tasks, deep neural networks must include an uncertainty estimation mechanism.Here we examine the relationship between deep architectures and their respective training regimes, with their corresponding selective prediction and uncertainty estimation performance. We consider some of the most popular estimation performance metrics previously proposed including AUROC, ECE, AURC as well as coverage for selective accuracy constraint. We present a novel and comprehensive study of selective prediction and the uncertainty estimation performance of 523 existing pretrained deep ImageNet classifiers that are available in popular repositories.We identify numerous and previously unknown factors that affect uncertainty estimation and examine the relationships between the different metrics. We find that distillation-based training regimes consistently yield better uncertainty estimations than other training schemes such as vanilla training, pretraining on a larger dataset and adversarial training.Moreover, we find a subset of ViT models that outperform any other models in terms of uncertainty estimation performance.For example, we discovered an unprecedented 99% top-1 selective accuracy on ImageNet at 47% coverage(and 95% top-1 accuracy at 80%) for a ViT model, whereas a competing EfficientNet-V2-XL cannot obtain these accuracy constraints at any level of coverage. Our companion paper, also published in ICLR 2023 (A framework for benchmarking class-out-of-distribution detection and its application to ImageNet), examines the performance of these classifiers in a class-out-of-distribution setting.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Towards Robust Object Detection Invariant to Real-World Domain Shifts

Qi Fan · Mattia Segu · Yu-Wing Tai · Fisher Yu · Chi-Keung Tang · Bernt Schiele · Dengxin Dai

Safety-critical applications such as autonomous driving require robust object detection invariant to real-world domain shifts. Such shifts can be regarded as different domain styles, which can vary substantially due to environment changes and sensor noises, but deep models only know the training domain style. Such domain style gap impedes object detection generalization on diverse real-world domains. Existing classification domain generalization (DG) methods cannot effectively solve the robust object detection problem, because they either rely on multiple source domains with large style variance or destroy the content structures of the original images. In this paper, we analyze and investigate effective solutions to overcome domain style overfitting for robust object detection without the above shortcomings. Our method, dubbed as Normalization Perturbation (NP), perturbs the channel statistics of source domain low-level features to synthesize various latent styles, so that the trained deep model can perceive diverse potential domains and generalizes well even without observations of target domain data in training. This approach is motivated by the observation that feature channel statistics of the target domain images deviate around the source domain statistics. We further explore the style-sensitive channels for effective style synthesis. Normalization Perturbation only relies on a single source domain and is surprisingly simple and effective, contributing a practical solution by effectively adapting or generalizing classification DG methods to robust object detection. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our method for generalizing object detectors under real-world domain shifts.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Self-Distillation for Further Pre-training of Transformers

Seanie Lee · Minki Kang · Juho Lee · Sung Ju Hwang · Kenji Kawaguchi

Pre-training a large transformer model on a massive amount of unlabeled data and fine-tuning it on labeled datasets for diverse downstream tasks has proven to be a successful strategy, for a variety of vision and natural language processing tasks. However, direct fine-tuning of the pre-trained model may be suboptimal if there exist large discrepancies across data domains for pre-training and fine-tuning. To tackle this issue, several previous studies have proposed further pre-training strategies, where we continue to pre-train the model on the target unlabeled dataset before fine-tuning. However, all of them solely focus on language models and we empirically find that a Vision Transformer is vulnerable to overfitting as we continue to pretrain the model on target unlabeled data. In order to tackle this limitation, we propose self-distillation as a regularization for a further pre-training stage. Specifically, we first further pre-train the initial pre-trained model on the target unlabeled data and then consider it as a teacher for self-distillation. Then we take the same initial pre-trained model as a student and enforce its hidden representations to be close to those of the teacher while optimizing the student with a masked auto-encoding objective. We empirically validate the efficacy of self-distillation on a variety of benchmark datasets for image and text classification tasks. Experimentally, we show that our proposed method outperforms all the relevant baselines. Theoretically, we analyze the proposed method with a simplified model to understand how self-distillation for further pre-training can potentially help improve the performance of the downstream tasks.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
CUDA: Curriculum of Data Augmentation for Long-tailed Recognition

Sumyeong Ahn · Jongwoo Ko · Se-Young Yun

Class imbalance problems frequently occur in real-world tasks, and conventional deep learning algorithms are well known for performance degradation on imbalanced training datasets. To mitigate this problem, many approaches have aimed to balance among given classes by re-weighting or re-sampling training samples. These re-balancing methods increase the impact of minority classes and reduce the influence of majority classes on the output of models. However, the extracted representations may be of poor quality owing to the limited number of minority samples. To handle this restriction, several methods have been developed that increase the representations of minority samples by leveraging the features of the majority samples. Despite extensive recent studies, no deep analysis has been conducted on determination of classes to be augmented and strength of augmentation has been conducted. In this study, we first investigate the correlation between the degree of augmentation and class-wise performance, and find that the proper degree of augmentation must be allocated for each class to mitigate class imbalance problems. Motivated by this finding, we propose a simple and efficient novel curriculum, which is designed to find the appropriate per-class strength of data augmentation, called CUDA: CUrriculum of Data Augmentation for long-tailed recognition. CUDA can simply be integrated into existing long-tailed recognition methods. We present the results of experiments showing that CUDA effectively achieves better generalization performance compared to the state-of-the-art method on various imbalanced datasets such as CIFAR-100-LT, ImageNet-LT, and iNaturalist 2018.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
From Play to Policy: Conditional Behavior Generation from Uncurated Robot Data

Zichen Jeff Cui · Yibin Wang · Nur Muhammad Shafiullah · Lerrel Pinto

While large-scale sequence modelling from offline data has led to impressive performance gains in natural language generation and image generation, directly translating such ideas to robotics has been challenging. One critical reason for this is that uncurated robot demonstration data, i.e. play data, collected from non-expert human demonstrators are often noisy, diverse, and distributionally multi-modal. This makes extracting useful, task-centric behaviors from such data a difficult generative modelling problem. In this work, we present Conditional Behavior Transformers (C-BeT), a method that combines the multi-modal generation ability of Behavior Transformer with future-conditioned goal specification. On a suite of simulated benchmark tasks, we find that C-BeT improves upon prior state-of-the-art work in learning from play data by an average of 45.7%. Further, we demonstrate for the first time that useful task-centric behaviors can be learned on a real-world robot purely from play data without any task labels or reward information. Robot videos are best viewed on our project website:

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Multifactor Sequential Disentanglement via Structured Koopman Autoencoders

Nimrod Berman · Ilan Naiman · Omri Azencot

Disentangling complex data to its latent factors of variation is a fundamental task in representation learning. Existing work on sequential disentanglement mostly provides two factor representations, i.e., it separates the data to time-varying and time-invariant factors. In contrast, we consider multifactor disentanglement in which multiple (more than two) semantic disentangled components are generated. Key to our approach is a strong inductive bias where we assume that the underlying dynamics can be represented linearly in the latent space. Under this assumption, it becomes natural to exploit the recently introduced Koopman autoencoder models. However, disentangled representations are not guaranteed in Koopman approaches, and thus we propose a novel spectral loss term which leads to structured Koopman matrices and disentanglement. Overall, we propose a simple and easy to code new deep model that is fully unsupervised and it supports multifactor disentanglement. We showcase new disentangling abilities such as swapping of individual static factors between characters, and an incremental swap of disentangled factors from the source to the target. Moreover, we evaluate our method extensively on two factor standard benchmark tasks where we significantly improve over competing unsupervised approaches, and we perform competitively in comparison to weakly- and self-supervised state-of-the-art approaches. The code is available at

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
One-Pixel Shortcut: On the Learning Preference of Deep Neural Networks

Shutong Wu · Sizhe Chen · Cihang Xie · Xiaolin Huang

Unlearnable examples (ULEs) aim to protect data from unauthorized usage for training DNNs. Existing work adds $\ell_\infty$-bounded perturbations to the original sample so that the trained model generalizes poorly. Such perturbations, however, are easy to eliminate by adversarial training and data augmentations. In this paper, we resolve this problem from a novel perspective by perturbing only one pixel in each image. Interestingly, such a small modification could effectively degrade model accuracy to almost an untrained counterpart. Moreover, our produced \emph{One-Pixel Shortcut (OPS)} could not be erased by adversarial training and strong augmentations. To generate OPS, we perturb in-class images at the same position to the same target value that could mostly and stably deviate from all the original images. Since such generation is only based on images, OPS needs significantly less computation cost than the previous methods using DNN generators. Based on OPS, we introduce an unlearnable dataset called CIFAR-10-S, which is indistinguishable from CIFAR-10 by humans but induces the trained model to extremely low accuracy. Even under adversarial training, a ResNet-18 trained on CIFAR-10-S has only 10.61% accuracy, compared to 83.02% by the existing error-minimizing method.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Enhancing Meta Learning via Multi-Objective Soft Improvement Functions

Runsheng Yu · Weiyu Chen · Xinrun Wang · James Kwok

Meta-learning tries to leverage information from similar learning tasks. In the commonly-used bilevel optimization formulation, the shared parameter is learned in the outer loop by minimizing the average loss over all tasks. However, the converged solution may be comprised in that it only focuses on optimizing on a small subset of tasks. To alleviate this problem, we consider meta-learning as a multi-objective optimization (MOO) problem, in which each task is an objective. However, existing MOO solvers need to access all the objectives’ gradients in each iteration, and cannot scale to the huge number of tasks in typical meta-learning settings. To alleviate this problem, we propose a scalable gradient-based solver with the use of mini-batch. We provide theoretical guarantees on the Pareto optimality or Pareto stationarity of the converged solution. Empirical studies on various machine learning settings demonstrate that the proposed method is efficient, and achieves better performance than the baselines, particularly on improving the performance of the poorly-performing tasks and thus alleviating the compromising phenomenon.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Learning Label Encodings for Deep Regression

Deval Shah · Tor Aamodt

Deep regression networks are widely used to tackle the problem of predicting a continuous value for a given input. Task-specialized approaches for training regression networks have shown significant improvement over generic approaches, such as direct regression. More recently, a generic approach based on regression by binary classification using binary-encoded labels has shown significant improvement over direct regression. The space of label encodings for regression is large. Lacking heretofore have been automated approaches to find a good label encoding for a given application. This paper introduces Regularized Label Encoding Learning (RLEL) for end-to-end training of an entire network and its label encoding. RLEL provides a generic approach for tackling regression. Underlying RLEL is our observation that the search space of label encodings can be constrained and efficiently explored by using a continuous search space of real-valued label encodings combined with a regularization function designed to encourage encodings with certain properties. These properties balance the probability of classification error in individual bits against error correction capability. Label encodings found by RLEL result in lower or comparable errors to manually designed label encodings. Applying RLEL results in $10.9\%$ and $12.4\%$ improvement in Mean Absolute Error (MAE) over direct regression and multiclass classification, respectively. Our evaluation demonstrates that RLEL can be combined with off-the-shelf feature extractors and is suitable across different architectures, datasets, and tasks. Code is available at \url{}.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Hard-Meta-Dataset++: Towards Understanding Few-Shot Performance on Difficult Tasks

Samyadeep Basu · Megan Stanley · John Bronskill · Soheil Feizi · Daniela Massiceti

Few-shot classification is the ability to adapt to any new classification task from only a few training examples. The performance of current top-performing few-shot classifiers varies widely across different tasks where they often fail on a subset of `difficult' tasks.This phenomenon has real-world consequences for deployed few-shot systems where safety and reliability are paramount, yet little has been done to understand these failure cases. In this paper, we study these difficult tasks to gain a more nuanced understanding of the limitations of current methods. To this end, we develop a general and computationally efficient algorithm called FastDiffSel to extract difficult tasks from any large-scale vision dataset. Notably, our algorithm can extract tasks at least 20x faster than existing methods enabling its use on large-scale datasets. We use FastDiffSel to extract difficult tasks from Meta-Datasset, a widely-used few-shot classification benchmark, and other challenging large-scale vision datasets including ORBIT, CURE-OR and ObjectNet. These tasks are curated into Hard-MD++, a new few-shot testing benchmark to promote the development of methods that are robust to even the most difficult tasks. We use Hard-MD++ to stress-test an extensive suite of few-shot classification methods and show that state-of-the-art approaches fail catastrophically on difficult tasks. We believe that our extraction algorithm FastDiffSel and Hard-MD++ will aid researchers in further understanding failure modes of few-shot classification models.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
PerFedMask: Personalized Federated Learning with Optimized Masking Vectors

Mehdi Setayesh · Xiaoxiao Li · Vincent Wong

Recently, various personalized federated learning (FL) algorithms have been proposed to tackle data heterogeneity. To mitigate device heterogeneity, a common approach is to use masking. In this paper, we first show that using random masking can lead to a bias in the obtained solution of the learning model. To this end, we propose a personalized FL algorithm with optimized masking vectors called PerFedMask. In particular, PerFedMask facilitates each device to obtain its optimized masking vector based on its computational capability before training. Fine-tuning is performed after training. PerFedMask is a generalization of a recently proposed personalized FL algorithm, FedBABU (Oh et al., 2022). PerFedMask can be combined with other FL algorithms including HeteroFL (Diao et al., 2021) and Split-Mix FL (Hong et al., 2022). Results based on CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100 datasets show that the proposed PerFedMask algorithm provides a higher test accuracy after fine-tuning and lower average number of trainable parameters when compared with six existing state-of-the-art FL algorithms in the literature. The codes are available at

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Data augmentation alone can improve adversarial training

Lin Li · Michael Spratling

Adversarial training suffers from the issue of robust overfitting, which seriously impairs its generalization performance. Data augmentation, which is effective at preventing overfitting in standard training, has been observed by many previous works to be ineffective in mitigating overfitting in adversarial training. This work proves that, contrary to previous findings, data augmentation alone can significantly boost accuracy and robustness in adversarial training. We find that the hardness and the diversity of data augmentation are important factors in combating robust overfitting. In general, diversity can improve both accuracy and robustness, while hardness can boost robustness at the cost of accuracy within a certain limit and degrade them both over that limit. To mitigate robust overfitting, we first propose a new crop transformation Cropshift with improved diversity compared to the conventional one (Padcrop). We then propose a new data augmentation scheme, based on Cropshift, with much improved diversity and well-balanced hardness. Empirically, our augmentation method achieves the state-of-the-art accuracy and robustness for data augmentations in adversarial training. Furthermore, it matches, or even exceeds when combined with weight averaging, the performance of the best contemporary regularization methods for alleviating robust overfitting.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
(Certified!!) Adversarial Robustness for Free!

Nicholas Carlini · Florian Tramer · Krishnamurthy Dvijotham · Leslie Rice · Mingjie Sun · Zico Kolter

In this paper we show how to achieve state-of-the-art certified adversarial robustness to 2-norm bounded perturbations by relying exclusively on off-the-shelf pretrained models. To do so, we instantiate the denoised smoothing approach of Salman et al. by combining a pretrained denoising diffusion probabilistic model and a standard high-accuracy classifier. This allows us to certify 71% accuracy on ImageNet under adversarial perturbations constrained to be within a 2-norm of 0.5, an improvement of 14 percentage points over the prior certified SoTA using any approach, or an improvement of 30 percentage points over denoised smoothing. We obtain these results using only pretrained diffusion models and image classifiers, without requiring any fine tuning or retraining of model parameters.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Scaling Laws For Deep Learning Based Image Reconstruction

Tobit Klug · Reinhard Heckel

Deep neural networks trained end-to-end to map a measurement of a (noisy) image to a clean image perform excellent for a variety of linear inverse problems. Current methods are only trained on a few hundreds or thousands of images as opposed to the millions of examples deep networks are trained on in other domains. In this work, we study whether major performance gains are expected from scaling up the training set size.We consider image denoising, accelerated magnetic resonance imaging, and super-resolution and empirically determine the reconstruction quality as a function of training set size, while simultaneously scaling the network size. For all three tasks we find that an initially steep power-law scaling slows significantly already at moderate training set sizes. Interpolating those scaling laws suggests that even training on millions of images would not significantly improve performance. To understand the expected behavior, we analytically characterize the performance of a linear estimator learned with early stopped gradient descent. The result formalizes the intuition that once the error induced by learning the signal model is small relative to the error floor, more training examples do not improve performance.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Learning with Auxiliary Activation for Memory-Efficient Training

Sunghyeon Woo · Dongsuk Jeon

While deep learning has achieved great success in various fields, a large amount of memory is necessary to train deep neural networks, which hinders the development of massive state-of-the-art models. The reason is the conventional learning rule, backpropagation, should temporarily store input activations of all the layers in the network. To overcome this, recent studies suggested various memory-efficient implementations of backpropagation. However, those approaches incur computational overhead due to the recomputation of activations, slowing down neural network training. In this work, we propose a new learning rule which significantly reduces memory requirements while closely matching the performance of backpropagation. The algorithm combines auxiliary activation with output activation during forward propagation, while only auxiliary activation is used during backward propagation instead of actual input activation to reduce the amount of data to be temporarily stored. We mathematically show that our learning rule can reliably train the networks whose loss landscape is convex if the auxiliary activation satisfies certain conditions. Based on this observation, we suggest candidates of auxiliary activation that satisfy those conditions. Experimental results confirm that the proposed learning rule achieves competitive performance compared to backpropagation in various models such as ResNet, Transformer, BERT, ViT, and MLP-Mixer.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Weakly-supervised HOI Detection via Prior-guided Bi-level Representation Learning

Bo Wan · Yongfei Liu · Desen Zhou · Tinne Tuytelaars · Xuming He

Human object interaction (HOI) detection plays a crucial role in human-centric scene understanding and serves as a fundamental building block for many vision tasks. One generalizable and scalable strategy for HOI detection is to use weak supervision, learning from image-level annotations only. This is inherently challenging due to ambiguous human-object associations, large search space of detecting HOIs and highly noisy training signal. A promising strategy to address those challenges is to exploit knowledge from large-scale pretrained models (e.g., CLIP), but a direct knowledge distillation strategy does not perform well on the weakly-supervised setting. In contrast, we develop a CLIP-guided HOI representation capable of incorporating the prior knowledge at both image level and HOI instance level, and adopt a self-taught mechanism to prune incorrect human-object associations. Experimental results on HICO-DET and V-COCOshow that our method outperforms the previous works by a sizable margin, showing the efficacy of our HOI representation.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
FiT: Parameter Efficient Few-shot Transfer Learning for Personalized and Federated Image Classification

Aliaksandra Shysheya · John Bronskill · Massimiliano Patacchiola · Sebastian Nowozin · Richard E Turner

Modern deep learning systems are increasingly deployed in situations such as personalization and federated learning where it is necessary to support i) learning on small amounts of data, and ii) communication efficient distributed training protocols. In this work, we develop FiLM Transfer (FiT) which fulfills these requirements in the image classification setting by combining ideas from transfer learning (fixed pretrained backbones and fine-tuned FiLM adapter layers) and meta-learning (automatically configured Naive Bayes classifiers and episodic training) to yield parameter efficient models with superior classification accuracy at low-shot. The resulting parameter efficiency is key for enabling few-shot learning, inexpensive model updates for personalization, and communication efficient federated learning. We experiment with FiT on a wide range of downstream datasets and show that it achieves better classification accuracy than the leading Big Transfer (BiT) algorithm at low-shot and achieves state-of-the art accuracy on the challenging VTAB-1k benchmark, with fewer than 1% of the updateable parameters. Finally, we demonstrate the parameter efficiency and superior accuracy of FiT in distributed low-shot applications including model personalization and federated learning where model update size is an important performance metric.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Contrastive Learning for Unsupervised Domain Adaptation of Time Series

Yilmazcan Ozyurt · Stefan Feuerriegel · Ce Zhang

Unsupervised domain adaptation (UDA) aims at learning a machine learning model using a labeled source domain that performs well on a similar yet different, unlabeled target domain. UDA is important in many applications such as medicine, where it is used to adapt risk scores across different patient cohorts. In this paper, we develop a novel framework for UDA of time series data, called CLUDA. Specifically, we propose a contrastive learning framework to learn contextual representations in multivariate time series, so that these preserve label information for the prediction task. In our framework, we further capture the variation in the contextual representations between source and target domain via a custom nearest-neighbor contrastive learning. To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first framework to learn domain-invariant, contextual representation for UDA of time series data. We evaluate our framework using a wide range of time series datasets to demonstrate its effectiveness and show that it achieves state-of-the-art performance for time series UDA.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Disentangling Learning Representations with Density Estimation

Eric Yeats · Frank Liu · Hai Li

Disentangled learning representations have promising utility in many applications, but they currently suffer from serious reliability issues. We present Gaussian Channel Autoencoder (GCAE), a method which achieves reliable disentanglement via scalable non-parametric density estimation of the latent space. GCAE avoids the curse of dimensionality of density estimation by disentangling subsets of its latent space with the Dual Total Correlation (DTC) metric, thereby representing its high-dimensional latent joint distribution as a collection of many low-dimensional conditional distributions. In our experiments, GCAE achieves highly competitive and reliable disentanglement scores compared with state-of-the-art baselines.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Linearly Mapping from Image to Text Space

Jack Merullo · Louis Castricato · Carsten Eickhoff · Ellie Pavlick

The extent to which text-only language models (LMs) learn to represent the physical, non-linguistic world is an open question. Prior work has shown that pretrained LMs can be taught to ``understand'' visual inputs when the models' parameters are updated on image captioning tasks. We test a stronger hypothesis: that the conceptual representations learned by text-only models are functionally equivalent (up to a linear transformation) to those learned by models trained on vision tasks. Specifically, we show that the image representations from vision models can be transferred as continuous prompts to frozen LMs by training only a single linear projection. Using these to prompt the LM achieves competitive performance on captioning and visual question answering tasks compared to models that tune both the image encoder and text decoder (such as the MAGMA model). We compare three image encoders with increasing amounts of linguistic supervision seen during pretraining: BEIT (no linguistic information), NF-ResNET (lexical category information), and CLIP (full natural language descriptions). We find that all three encoders perform equally well at transferring visual property information to the language model (e.g., whether an animal is large or small), but that image encoders pretrained with linguistic supervision more saliently encode category information (e.g., distinguishing hippo vs.\ elephant) and thus perform significantly better on benchmark language-and-vision tasks. Our results indicate that LMs encode conceptual information structurally similarly to vision-based models, even those that are solely trained on images.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Towards Understanding and Mitigating Dimensional Collapse in Heterogeneous Federated Learning

Yujun Shi · Jian Liang · Wenqing Zhang · Vincent Tan · Song Bai

Federated learning aims to train models collaboratively across different clients without sharing data for privacy considerations. However, one major challenge for this learning paradigm is the data heterogeneity problem, which refers to the discrepancies between the local data distributions among various clients. To tackle this problem, we first study how data heterogeneity affects the representations of the globally aggregated models. Interestingly, we find that heterogeneous data results in the global model suffering from severe dimensional collapse, in which representations tend to reside in a lower-dimensional space instead of the ambient space. Moreover, we observe a similar phenomenon on models locally trained on each client and deduce that the dimensional collapse on the global model is inherited from local models. In addition, we theoretically analyze the gradient flow dynamics to shed light on how data heterogeneity result in dimensional collapse for local models. To remedy this problem caused by the data heterogeneity, we propose FedDecorr, a novel method that can effectively mitigate dimensional collapse in federated learning. Specifically, FedDecorr applies a regularization term during local training that encourages different dimensions of representations to be uncorrelated. FedDecorr, which is implementation-friendly and computationally-efficient, yields consistent improvements over baselines on standard benchmark datasets. Code:

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Reliability of CKA as a Similarity Measure in Deep Learning

MohammadReza Davari · Stefan Horoi · Amine Natik · Guillaume Lajoie · Guy Wolf · Eugene Belilovsky

Comparing learned neural representations in neural networks is a challenging but important problem, which has been approached in different ways. The Centered Kernel Alignment (CKA) similarity metric, particularly its linear variant, has recently become a popular approach and has been widely used to compare representations of a network's different layers, of architecturally similar networks trained differently, or of models with different architectures trained on the same data. A wide variety of claims about similarity and dissimilarity of these various representations have been made using CKA results. In this work we present analysis that formally characterizes CKA sensitivity to a large class of simple transformations, which can naturally occur in the context of modern machine learning. This provides a concrete explanation to CKA sensitivity to outliers, which has been observed in past works, and to transformations that preserve the linear separability of the data, an important generalization attribute. We empirically investigate several weaknesses of the CKA similarity metric, demonstrating situations in which it gives unexpected or counterintuitive results. Finally we study approaches for modifying representations to maintain functional behaviour while changing the CKA value. Our results illustrate that, in many cases, the CKA value can be easily manipulated without substantial changes to the functional behaviour of the models, and call for caution when leveraging activation alignment metrics.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Beyond calibration: estimating the grouping loss of modern neural networks

Alexandre Perez-Lebel · Marine Le Morvan · Gael Varoquaux

The ability to ensure that a classifier gives reliable confidence scores is essential to ensure informed decision-making. To this end, recent work has focused on miscalibration, i.e., the over or under confidence of model scores. Yet calibration is not enough: even a perfectly calibrated classifier with the best possible accuracy can have confidence scores that are far from the true posterior probabilities. This is due to the grouping loss, created by samples with the same confidence scores but different true posterior probabilities. Proper scoring rule theory shows that given the calibration loss, the missing piece to characterize individual errors is the grouping loss. While there are many estimators of the calibration loss, none exists for the grouping loss in standard settings. Here, we propose an estimator to approximate the grouping loss. We show that modern neural network architectures in vision and NLP exhibit grouping loss, notably in distribution shifts settings, which highlights the importance of pre-production validation.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Approximate Vanishing Ideal Computations at Scale

Elias Wirth · Hiroshi Kera · Sebastian Pokutta

The vanishing ideal of a set of points $X = \{\mathbf{x}_1, \ldots, \mathbf{x}_m\}\subseteq \mathbb{R}^n$ is the set of polynomials that evaluate to $0$ over all points $\mathbf{x} \in X$ and admits an efficient representation by a finite subset of generators. In practice, to accommodate noise in the data, algorithms that construct generators of the approximate vanishing ideal are widely studied but their computational complexities remain expensive. In this paper, we scale up the oracle approximate vanishing ideal algorithm (OAVI), the only generator-constructing algorithm with known learning guarantees. We prove that the computational complexity of OAVI is not superlinear, as previously claimed, but linear in the number of samples $m$. In addition, we propose two modifications that accelerate OAVI's training time: Our analysis reveals that replacing the pairwise conditional gradients algorithm, one of the solvers used in OAVI, with the faster blended pairwise conditional gradients algorithm leads to an exponential speed-up in the number of features $n$. Finally, using a new inverse Hessian boosting approach, intermediate convex optimization problems can be solved almost instantly, improving OAVI's training time by multiple orders of magnitude in a variety of numerical experiments.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Artificial Neuronal Ensembles with Learned Context Dependent Gating

Matthew J Tilley · Michelle Miller · David Freedman

Biological neural networks are capable of recruiting different sets of neurons to encode different memories. However, when training artificial neural networks on a set of tasks, typically, no mechanism is employed for selectively producing anything analogous to these neuronal ensembles. Further, artificial neural networks suffer from catastrophic forgetting, where the network's performance rapidly deteriorates as tasks are learned sequentially. By contrast, sequential learning is possible for a range of biological organisms. We introduce Learned Context Dependent Gating (LXDG), a method to flexibly allocate and recall artificial neuronal ensembles', using a particular network structure and a new set of regularization terms. Activities in the hidden layers of the network are modulated by gates, which are dynamically produced during training. The gates are outputs of networks themselves, trained with a sigmoid output activation. The regularization terms we have introduced correspond to properties exhibited by biological neuronal ensembles. The first term penalizes low gate sparsity, ensuring that only a specified fraction of the network is used. The second term ensures that previously learned gates are recalled when the network is presented with input from previously learned tasks. Finally, there is a regularization term responsible for ensuring that new tasks are encoded in gates that are as orthogonal as possible from previously used ones. We demonstrate the ability of this method to alleviate catastrophic forgetting on continual learning benchmarks. When the new regularization terms are included in the model along with Elastic Weight Consolidation (EWC) it achieves better performance on the benchmarkpermuted MNIST' than with EWC alone. The benchmark `rotated MNIST' demonstrates how similar tasks recruit similar neurons to the artificial neuronal ensemble.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Sub-Task Decomposition Enables Learning in Sequence to Sequence Tasks

Noam Wies · Yoav Levine · Amnon Shashua

The field of Natural Language Processing (NLP) has experienced a dramatic leap in capabilities with the recent introduction of huge Language Models (LMs). Despite this success, natural language problems that involve several compounded steps are still practically unlearnable, even by the largest LMs. This complies with experimental failures for end-to-end learning of composite problems that were demonstrated in a variety of domains. An effective mitigation is to introduce intermediate supervision for solving sub-tasks of the compounded problem. Recently, several works have demonstrated high gains by taking a straightforward approach for incorporating intermediate supervision in compounded natural language problems: the sequence-to-sequence LM is fed with an augmented input, in which the decomposed tasks' labels are simply concatenated to the original input. In this paper, we prove a positive learning result that motivates these recent efforts. We show that when concatenating intermediate supervision to the input and training a sequence-to-sequence model on this modified input, unlearnable composite problems can become learnable. We show that this is true for any family of tasks which on the one hand, are unlearnable, and on the other hand, can be decomposed into a polynomial number of simple sub-tasks, each of which depends only on $O(1)$ previous sub-task results. Beyond motivating contemporary empirical efforts for incorporating intermediate supervision in sequence-to-sequence language models, our positive theoretical result is the first of its kind in the landscape of results on the benefits of intermediate supervision for neural-network learning: Until now, all theoretical results on the subject are negative, i.e., show cases where learning is impossible without intermediate supervision, while our result is positive, showing that learning is facilitated in the presence of intermediate supervision.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Online Bias Correction for Task-Free Continual Learning

Aristotelis Chrysakis · Marie-Francine Moens

Task-free continual learning is the machine-learning setting where a model is trained online with data generated by a nonstationary stream. Conventional wisdom suggests that, in this setting, models are trained using an approach called experience replay, where the risk is computed both with respect to current stream observations and to a small subset of past observations. In this work, we explain both theoretically and empirically how experience replay biases the outputs of the model towards recent stream observations. Moreover, we propose a simple approach to mitigate this bias online, by changing how the output layer of the model is optimized. We show that our approach improves significantly the learning performance of experience-replay approaches over different datasets. Our findings suggest that, when performing experience replay, the output layer of the model should be optimized separately from the preceding layers.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
On the Importance and Applicability of Pre-Training for Federated Learning

Hong-You Chen · Cheng-Hao Tu · Ziwei Li · Han Wei Shen · Wei-Lun Chao

Pre-training is prevalent in nowadays deep learning to improve the learned model's performance. However, in the literature on federated learning (FL), neural networks are mostly initialized with random weights. These attract our interest in conducting a systematic study to explore pre-training for FL. Across multiple visual recognition benchmarks, we found that pre-training can not only improve FL, but also close its accuracy gap to the counterpart centralized learning, especially in the challenging cases of non-IID clients' data. To make our findings applicable to situations where pre-trained models are not directly available, we explore pre-training with synthetic data or even with clients' data in a decentralized manner, and found that they can already improve FL notably. Interestingly, many of the techniques we explore are complementary to each other to further boost the performance, and we view this as a critical result toward scaling up deep FL for real-world applications. We conclude our paper with an attempt to understand the effect of pre-training on FL. We found that pre-training enables the learned global models under different clients' data conditions to converge to the same loss basin, and makes global aggregation in FL more stable. Nevertheless, pre-training seems to not alleviate local model drifting, a fundamental problem in FL under non-IID data.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Towards Smooth Video Composition

Qihang Zhang · Ceyuan Yang · Yujun Shen · Yinghao Xu · Bolei Zhou

Video generation, with the purpose of producing a sequence of frames, requires synthesizing consistent and persistent dynamic contents over time. This work investigates how to model the temporal relations for composing a video with arbitrary number of frames, from a few to even infinite, using generative adversarial networks (GANs). First, towards composing adjacent frames, we show that the alias-free operation for single image generation, together with adequately pre-learned knowledge, bring a smooth frame transition without harming the per-frame quality. Second, through incorporating a temporal shift module (TSM), which is originally designed for video understanding, into the discriminator, we manage to advance the generator in synthesizing more reasonable dynamics. Third, we develop a novel B-Spline based motion representation to ensure the temporal smoothness, and hence achieve infinite-length video generation, going beyond the frame number used in training. We evaluate our approach on a range of datasets and show substantial improvements over baselines on video generation. Code and models are publicly available at \url{}.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Long Range Language Modeling via Gated State Spaces

Harsh Mehta · Ankit Gupta · Ashok Cutkosky · Behnam Neyshabur

State space models have shown to be effective at modeling long range dependencies, specially on sequence classification tasks. In this work we focus on autoregressive sequence modeling over English books, Github source code and ArXiv mathematics articles. Based on recent developments around the effectiveness of gated activation functions, we propose a new layer named \textit{Gated State Space} (GSS) and show that it trains significantly faster than the diagonal version of S4 (i.e. DSS) on TPUs, is fairly competitive with several well-tuned Transformer-based baselines and exhibits zero-shot generalization to longer inputs while being straightforward to implement. Finally, we show that leveraging self-attention to model local dependencies improves the performance of GSS even further.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
A Graph Neural Network Approach to Automated Model Building in Cryo-EM Maps

Kiarash Jamali · Dari Kimanius · Sjors Scheres

Electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) produces three-dimensional (3D) maps of the electrostatic potential of biological macromolecules, including proteins. At sufficient resolution, the cryo-EM maps, along with some knowledge about the imaged molecules, allow de novo atomic modelling. Typically, this is done through a laborious manual process. Recent advances in machine learning applications to protein structure prediction show potential for automating this process. Taking inspiration from these techniques, we have built ModelAngelo for automated model building of proteins in cryo-EM maps. ModelAngelo first uses a residual convolutional neural network (CNN) to initialize a graph representation with nodes assigned to individual amino acids of the proteins in the map and edges representing the protein chain. The graph is then refined with a graph neural network (GNN) that combines the cryo-EM data, the amino acid sequence data and prior knowledge about protein geometries. The GNN refines the geometry of the protein chain and classifies the amino acids for each of its nodes. The final graph is post-processed with a hidden Markov model (HMM) search to map each protein chain to entries in a user provided sequence file. Application to 28 test cases shows that ModelAngelo outperforms state-of-the-art and approximates manual building for cryo-EM maps with resolutions better than 3.5 A.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
DiffDock: Diffusion Steps, Twists, and Turns for Molecular Docking

Gabriele Corso · Hannes Stärk · Bowen Jing · Regina Barzilay · Tommi Jaakkola

Predicting the binding structure of a small molecule ligand to a protein---a task known as molecular docking---is critical to drug design. Recent deep learning methods that treat docking as a regression problem have decreased runtime compared to traditional search-based methods but have yet to offer substantial improvements in accuracy. We instead frame molecular docking as a generative modeling problem and develop DiffDock, a diffusion generative model over the non-Euclidean manifold of ligand poses. To do so, we map this manifold to the product space of the degrees of freedom (translational, rotational, and torsional) involved in docking and develop an efficient diffusion process on this space. Empirically, DiffDock obtains a 38% top-1 success rate (RMSD<2A) on PDBBind, significantly outperforming the previous state-of-the-art of traditional docking (23%) and deep learning (20%) methods. Moreover, while previous methods are not able to dock on computationally folded structures (maximum accuracy 10.4%), DiffDock maintains significantly higher precision (21.7%). Finally, DiffDock has fast inference times and provides confidence estimates with high selective accuracy.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Neural Lagrangian Schr\"{o}dinger Bridge: Diffusion Modeling for Population Dynamics

Takeshi Koshizuka · Issei Sato

Population dynamics is the study of temporal and spatial variation in the size of populations of organisms and is a major part of population ecology. One of the main difficulties in analyzing population dynamics is that we can only obtain observation data with coarse time intervals from fixed-point observations due to experimental costs or measurement constraints. Recently, modeling population dynamics by using continuous normalizing flows (CNFs) and dynamic optimal transport has been proposed to infer the sample trajectories from a fixed-point observed population. While the sample behavior in CNFs is deterministic, the actual sample in biological systems moves in an essentially random yet directional manner. Moreover, when a sample moves from point A to point B in dynamical systems, its trajectory typically follows the principle of least action in which the corresponding action has the smallest possible value. To satisfy these requirements of the sample trajectories, we formulate the Lagrangian Schrödinger bridge (LSB) problem and propose to solve it approximately by modeling the advection-diffusion process with regularized neural SDE. We also develop a model architecture that enables faster computation of the loss function. Experimental results show that the proposed method can efficiently approximate the population-level dynamics even for high-dimensional data and that using the prior knowledge introduced by the Lagrangian enables us to estimate the sample-level dynamics with stochastic behavior.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
Draft, Sketch, and Prove: Guiding Formal Theorem Provers with Informal Proofs

Qiaochu Jiang · Sean Welleck · Jin Zhou · Timothée Lacroix · Jiacheng Liu · Wenda Li · Mateja Jamnik · Guillaume Lample · Yuhuai Wu

The formalization of existing mathematical proofs is a notoriously difficult process. Despite decades of research on automation and proof assistants, writing formal proofs remains arduous and only accessible to a few experts. While previous studies to automate formalization focused on powerful search algorithms, no attempts were made to take advantage of available informal proofs. In this work, we introduce Draft, Sketch, and Prove (DSP), a method that maps informal proofs to formal proof sketches, and uses the sketches to guide an automated prover by directing its search to easier sub-problems. We investigate two relevant setups where informal proofs are either written by humans or generated by a language model. Our experiments and ablation studies show that large language models are able to produce well-structured formal sketches that follow the same reasoning steps as the informal proofs. Guiding an automated prover with these sketches enhances its performance from $20.9\%$ to $39.3\%$ on a collection of mathematical competition problems.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
On the Word Boundaries of Emergent Languages Based on Harris's Articulation Scheme

Ryo Ueda · Taiga Ishii · Yusuke Miyao

This paper shows that emergent languages in signaling games lack meaningful word boundaries in terms of Harris's Articulation Scheme (HAS), a universal property of natural language. Emergent Languages are artificial communication protocols arising among agents. However, it is not obvious whether such a simulated language would have the same properties as natural language. In this paper, we test if they satisfy HAS. HAS states that word boundaries can be obtained solely from phonemes in natural language. We adopt HAS-based word segmentation and verify whether emergent languages have meaningful word segments. The experiment suggested they do not have, although they meet some preconditions for HAS. We discovered a gap between emergent and natural languages to be bridged, indicating that the standard signaling game satisfies prerequisites but is still missing some necessary ingredients.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Deep Generative Symbolic Regression

Samuel Holt · Zhaozhi Qian · Mihaela van der Schaar

Symbolic regression (SR) aims to discover concise closed-form mathematical equations from data, a task fundamental to scientific discovery. However, the problem is highly challenging because closed-form equations lie in a complex combinatorial search space. Existing methods, ranging from heuristic search to reinforcement learning, fail to scale with the number of input variables. We make the observation that closed-form equations often have structural characteristics and invariances (e.g. the commutative law) that could be further exploited to build more effective symbolic regression solutions. Motivated by this observation, our key contribution is to leverage pre-trained deep generative models to capture the intrinsic regularities of equations, thereby providing a solid foundation for subsequent optimization steps. We show that our novel formalism unifies several prominent approaches of symbolic regression and offers a new perspective to justify and improve on the previous ad hoc designs, such as the usage of cross-entropy loss during pre-training. Specifically, we propose an instantiation of our framework, Deep Generative Symbolic Regression (DGSR). In our experiments, we show that DGSR achieves a higher recovery rate of true equations in the setting of a larger number of input variables, and it is more computationally efficient at inference time than state-of-the-art RL symbolic regression solutions.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
De Novo Molecular Generation via Connection-aware Motif Mining

Zijie Geng · Shufang Xie · Yingce Xia · Lijun Wu · Tao Qin · Jie Wang · Yongdong Zhang · Feng Wu · Tie-Yan Liu

De novo molecular generation is an essential task for science discovery. Recently, fragment-based deep generative models have attracted much research attention due to their flexibility in generating novel molecules based on existing molecule fragments. However, the motif vocabulary, i.e., the collection of frequent fragments, is usually built upon heuristic rules, which brings difficulties to capturing common substructures from large amounts of molecules. In this work, we propose MiCaM to generate molecules based on mined connection-aware motifs. Specifically, it leverages a data-driven algorithm to automatically discover motifs from a molecule library by iteratively merging subgraphs based on their frequency. The obtained motif vocabulary consists of not only molecular motifs (i.e., the frequent fragments), but also their connection information, indicating how the motifs are connected with each other. Based on the mined connection-aware motifs, MiCaM builds a connection-aware generator, which simultaneously picks up motifs and determines how they are connected. We test our method on distribution-learning benchmarks (i.e., generating novel molecules to resemble the distribution of a given training set) and goal-directed benchmarks (i.e., generating molecules with target properties), and achieve significant improvements over previous fragment-based baselines. Furthermore, we demonstrate that our method can effectively mine domain-specific motifs for different tasks.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Enhancing the Inductive Biases of Graph Neural ODE for Modeling Physical Systems

Suresh Bishnoi · Ravinder Bhattoo · Jayadeva Jayadeva · Sayan Ranu · N. M. Anoop Krishnan

Neural networks with physics-based inductive biases such as Lagrangian neural networks (LNNs), and Hamiltonian neural networks (HNNs) learn the dynamics of physical systems by encoding strong inductive biases. Alternatively, Neural ODEs with appropriate inductive biases have also been shown to give similar performances. However, these models, when applied to particle-based systems, are transductive in nature and hence, do not generalize to large system sizes. In this paper, we present a graph-based neural ODE, GNODE, to learn the time evolution of dynamical systems. Further, we carefully analyze the role of different inductive biases on the performance of GNODE. We show that similar to LNN and HNN, encoding the constraints explicitly can significantly improve the training efficiency and performance of GNODE significantly. Our experiments also assess the value of additional inductive biases, such as Newton’s third law, on the final performance of the model. We demonstrate that inducing these biases can enhance the performance of the model by orders of magnitude in terms of both energy violation and rollout error. Interestingly, we observe that the GNODE trained with the most effective inductive biases, namely MCGNODE, outperforms the graph versions of LNN and HNN, namely, Lagrangian graph networks (LGN) and Hamiltonian graph networks (HGN) in terms of energy violation error by ∼4 orders of magnitude for a pendulum system, and ∼2 orders of magnitude for spring systems. These results suggest that NODE-based systems can give competitive performances with energy-conserving neural networks by employing appropriate inductive biases.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Pre-training via Denoising for Molecular Property Prediction

Sheheryar Zaidi · Michael Schaarschmidt · James Martens · Hyunjik Kim · Yee Whye Teh · Alvaro Sanchez Gonzalez · Peter Battaglia · Razvan Pascanu · Jonathan Godwin

Many important problems involving molecular property prediction from 3D structures have limited data, posing a generalization challenge for neural networks. In this paper, we describe a pre-training technique based on denoising that achieves a new state-of-the-art in molecular property prediction by utilizing large datasets of 3D molecular structures at equilibrium to learn meaningful representations for downstream tasks. Relying on the well-known link between denoising autoencoders and score-matching, we show that the denoising objective corresponds to learning a molecular force field -- arising from approximating the Boltzmann distribution with a mixture of Gaussians -- directly from equilibrium structures. Our experiments demonstrate that using this pre-training objective significantly improves performance on multiple benchmarks, achieving a new state-of-the-art on the majority of targets in the widely used QM9 dataset. Our analysis then provides practical insights into the effects of different factors -- dataset sizes, model size and architecture, and the choice of upstream and downstream datasets -- on pre-training.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Flow Annealed Importance Sampling Bootstrap

Laurence Midgley · Vincent Stimper · Gregor Simm · Bernhard Schoelkopf · José Miguel Hernández Lobato

Normalizing flows are tractable density models that can approximate complicated target distributions, e.g. Boltzmann distributions of physical systems. However, current methods for training flows either suffer from mode-seeking behavior, use samples from the target generated beforehand by expensive MCMC methods, or use stochastic losses that have high variance. To avoid these problems, we augment flows with annealed importance sampling (AIS) and minimize the mass-covering $\alpha$-divergence with $\alpha=2$, which minimizes importance weight variance. Our method, Flow AIS Bootstrap (FAB), uses AIS to generate samples in regions where the flow is a poor approximation of the target, facilitating the discovery of new modes. We apply FAB to multimodal targets and show that we can approximate them very accurately where previous methods fail. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to learn the Boltzmann distribution of the alanine dipeptide molecule using only the unnormalized target density, without access to samples generated via Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations: FAB produces better results than training via maximum likelihood on MD samples while using 100 times fewer target evaluations. After reweighting the samples, we obtain unbiased histograms of dihedral angles that are almost identical to the ground truth.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Minimax Optimal Kernel Operator Learning via Multilevel Training

Jikai Jin · Yiping Lu · Jose Blanchet · Lexing Ying

Learning mappings between infinite-dimensional function spaces have achieved empirical success in many disciplines of machine learning, including generative modeling, functional data analysis, causal inference, and multi-agent reinforcement learning. In this paper, we study the statistical limit of learning a Hilbert-Schmidt operator between two infinite-dimensional Sobolev reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces. We establish the information-theoretic lower bound in terms of the Sobolev Hilbert-Schmidt norm and show that a regularization that learns the spectral components below the bias contour and ignores the ones above the variance contour can achieve the optimal learning rate. At the same time, the spectral components between the bias and variance contours give us flexibility in designing computationally feasible machine learning algorithms. Based on this observation, we develop a multilevel kernel operator learning algorithm that is optimal when learning linear operators between infinite-dimensional function spaces.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Learning Controllable Adaptive Simulation for Multi-resolution Physics

Tailin Wu · Takashi Maruyama · Qingqing Zhao · Gordon Wetzstein · Jure Leskovec

Simulating the time evolution of physical systems is pivotal in many scientific and engineering problems. An open challenge in simulating such systems is their multi-resolution dynamics: a small fraction of the system is extremely dynamic, and requires very fine-grained resolution, while a majority of the system is changing slowly and can be modeled by coarser spatial scales. Typical learning-based surrogate models use a uniform spatial scale, which needs to resolve to the finest required scale and can waste a huge compute to achieve required accuracy. In this work, we introduce Learning controllable Adaptive simulation for Multi-resolution Physics (LAMP) as the first full deep learning-based surrogate model that jointly learns the evolution model and optimizes appropriate spatial resolutions that devote more compute to the highly dynamic regions. LAMP consists of a Graph Neural Network (GNN) for learning the forward evolution, and a GNN-based actor-critic for learning the policy of spatial refinement and coarsening. We introduce learning techniques that optimizes LAMP with weighted sum of error and computational cost as objective, allowing LAMP to adapt to varying relative importance of error vs. computation tradeoff at inference time. We evaluate our method in a 1D benchmark of nonlinear PDEs and a challenging 2D mesh-based simulation. We demonstrate that our LAMP outperforms state-of-the-art deep learning surrogate models, and can adaptively trade-off computation to improve long-term prediction error: it achieves an average of 33.7% error reduction for 1D nonlinear PDEs, and outperforms MeshGraphNets + classical Adaptive Mesh Refinement (AMR) in 2D mesh-based simulations. Project website with data and code can be found at:

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
HyperDeepONet: learning operator with complex target function space using the limited resources via hypernetwork

Jae Yong Lee · Sung Woong Cho · Hyung Ju Hwang

Fast and accurate predictions for complex physical dynamics are a big challenge across various applications. Real-time prediction on resource-constrained hardware is even more crucial in the real-world problems. The deep operator network (DeepONet) has recently been proposed as a framework for learning nonlinear mappings between function spaces. However, the DeepONet requires many parameters and has a high computational cost when learning operators, particularly those with complex (discontinuous or non-smooth) target functions. In this study, we propose HyperDeepONet, which uses the expressive power of the hypernetwork to enable learning of a complex operator with smaller set of parameters. The DeepONet and its variant models can be thought of as a method of injecting the input function information into the target function. From this perspective, these models can be viewed as a special case of HyperDeepONet. We analyze the complexity of DeepONet and conclude that HyperDeepONet needs relatively lower complexity to obtain the desired accuracy for operator learning. HyperDeepONet was successfully applied to various operator learning problems using low computational resources compared to other benchmarks.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
One Transformer Can Understand Both 2D & 3D Molecular Data

Shengjie Luo · Tianlang Chen · Yixian Xu · Shuxin Zheng · Tie-Yan Liu · Liwei Wang · Di He

Unlike vision and language data which usually has a unique format, molecules can naturally be characterized using different chemical formulations. One can view a molecule as a 2D graph or define it as a collection of atoms located in a 3D space. For molecular representation learning, most previous works designed neural networks only for a particular data format, making the learned models likely to fail for other data formats. We believe a general-purpose neural network model for chemistry should be able to handle molecular tasks across data modalities. To achieve this goal, in this work, we develop a novel Transformer-based Molecular model called Transformer-M, which can take molecular data of 2D or 3D formats as input and generate meaningful semantic representations. Using the standard Transformer as the backbone architecture, Transformer-M develops two separated channels to encode 2D and 3D structural information and incorporate them with the atom features in the network modules. When the input data is in a particular format, the corresponding channel will be activated, and the other will be disabled. By training on 2D and 3D molecular data with properly designed supervised signals, Transformer-M automatically learns to leverage knowledge from different data modalities and correctly capture the representations. We conducted extensive experiments for Transformer-M. All empirical results show that Transformer-M can simultaneously achieve strong performance on 2D and 3D tasks, suggesting its broad applicability. The code and models will be made publicly available at

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Simplicial Hopfield networks

Thomas F Burns · Tomoki Fukai

Hopfield networks are artificial neural networks which store memory patterns on the states of their neurons by choosing recurrent connection weights and update rules such that the energy landscape of the network forms attractors around the memories. How many stable, sufficiently-attracting memory patterns can we store in such a network using $N$ neurons? The answer depends on the choice of weights and update rule. Inspired by setwise connectivity in biology, we extend Hopfield networks by adding setwise connections and embedding these connections in a simplicial complex. Simplicial complexes are higher dimensional analogues of graphs which naturally represent collections of pairwise and setwise relationships. We show that our simplicial Hopfield networks increase memory storage capacity. Surprisingly, even when connections are limited to a small random subset of equivalent size to an all-pairwise network, our networks still outperform their pairwise counterparts. Such scenarios include non-trivial simplicial topology. We also test analogous modern continuous Hopfield networks, offering a potentially promising avenue for improving the attention mechanism in Transformer models.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Bayesian Oracle for bounding information gain in neural encoding models

Konstantin-Klemens Lurz · Mohammad Bashiri · Edgar Walker · Fabian Sinz

In recent years, deep learning models have set new standards in predicting neural population responses. Most of these models currently focus on predicting the mean response of each neuron for a given input. However, neural variability around this mean is not just noise and plays a central role in several theories on neural computation. To capture this variability, we need models that predict full response distributions for a given stimulus. However, to measure the quality of such models, commonly used correlation-based metrics are not sufficient as they mainly care about the mean of the response distribution. An interpretable alternative evaluation metric for likelihood-based models is \textit{Information Gain} (IG) which evaluates the likelihood of a model relative to a lower and upper bound. However, while a lower bound is usually easy to obtain, constructing an upper bound turns out to be challenging for neural recordings with relatively low numbers of repeated trials, high (shared) variability, and sparse responses. In this work, we generalize the jack-knife oracle estimator for the mean---commonly used for correlation metrics---to a flexible Bayesian oracle estimator for IG based on posterior predictive distributions. We describe and address the challenges that arise when estimating the lower and upper bounds from small datasets. We then show that our upper bound estimate is data-efficient and robust even in the case of sparse responses and low signal-to-noise ratio. We further provide the derivation of the upper bound estimator for a variety of common distributions including the state-of-the-art zero-inflated mixture models, and relate IG to common mean-based metrics. Finally, we use our approach to evaluate such a mixture model resulting in $90\%$ IG performance.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
TiAda: A Time-scale Adaptive Algorithm for Nonconvex Minimax Optimization

Xiang Li · Junchi YANG · Niao He

Adaptive gradient methods have shown their ability to adjust the stepsizes on the fly in a parameter-agnostic manner, and empirically achieve faster convergence for solving minimization problems. When it comes to nonconvex minimax optimization, however, current convergence analyses of gradient descent ascent (GDA) combined with adaptive stepsizes require careful tuning of hyper-parameters and the knowledge of problem-dependent parameters. Such a discrepancy arises from the primal-dual nature of minimax problems and the necessity of delicate time-scale separation between the primal and dual updates in attaining convergence. In this work, we propose a single-loop adaptive GDA algorithm called TiAda for nonconvex minimax optimization that automatically adapts to the time-scale separation. Our algorithm is fully parameter-agnostic and can achieve near-optimal complexities simultaneously in deterministic and stochastic settings of nonconvex-strongly-concave minimax problems. The effectiveness of the proposed method is further justified numerically for a number of machine learning applications.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Symmetries, Flat Minima, and the Conserved Quantities of Gradient Flow

Bo Zhao · Iordan Ganev · Robin Walters · Rose Yu · Nima Dehmamy

Empirical studies of the loss landscape of deep networks have revealed that many local minima are connected through low-loss valleys. Yet, little is known about the theoretical origin of such valleys. We present a general framework for finding continuous symmetries in the parameter space, which carve out low-loss valleys. Our framework uses equivariances of the activation functions and can be applied to different layer architectures. To generalize this framework to nonlinear neural networks, we introduce a novel set of nonlinear, data-dependent symmetries. These symmetries can transform a trained model such that it performs similarly on new samples, which allows ensemble building that improves robustness under certain adversarial attacks. We then show that conserved quantities associated with linear symmetries can be used to define coordinates along low-loss valleys. The conserved quantities help reveal that using common initialization methods, gradient flow only explores a small part of the global minimum. By relating conserved quantities to convergence rate and sharpness of the minimum, we provide insights on how initialization impacts convergence and generalizability.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Faster federated optimization under second-order similarity

Ahmed Khaled · Chi Jin

Federated learning (FL) is a subfield of machine learning where multiple clients try to collaboratively learn a model over a network under communication constraints. We consider finite-sum federated optimization under a second-order function similarity condition and strong convexity, and propose two new algorithms: SVRP and Catalyzed SVRP. This second-order similarity condition has grown popular recently, and is satisfied in many applications including distributed statistical learning and differentially private empirical risk minimization. The first algorithm, SVRP, combines approximate stochastic proximal point evaluations, client sampling, and variance reduction. We show that SVRP is communication efficient and achieves superior performance to many existing algorithms when function similarity is high enough. Our second algorithm, Catalyzed SVRP, is a Catalyst-accelerated variant of SVRP that achieves even better performance and uniformly improves upon existing algorithms for federated optimization under second-order similarity and strong convexity. In the course of analyzing these algorithms, we provide a new analysis of the Stochastic Proximal Point Method (SPPM) that might be of independent interest. Our analysis of SPPM is simple, allows for approximate proximal point evaluations, does not require any smoothness assumptions, and shows a clear benefit in communication complexity over ordinary distributed stochastic gradient descent.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Generative Augmented Flow Networks

Ling Pan · Dinghuai Zhang · Aaron Courville · Longbo Huang · Yoshua Bengio

The Generative Flow Network is a probabilistic framework where an agent learns a stochastic policy for object generation, such that the probability of generating an object is proportional to a given reward function. Its effectiveness has been shown in discovering high-quality and diverse solutions, compared to reward-maximizing reinforcement learning-based methods. Nonetheless, GFlowNets only learn from rewards of the terminal states, which can limit its applicability. Indeed, intermediate rewards play a critical role in learning, for example from intrinsic motivation to provide intermediate feedback even in particularly challenging sparse reward tasks. Inspired by this, we propose Generative Augmented Flow Networks (GAFlowNets), a novel learning framework to incorporate intermediate rewards into GFlowNets. We specify intermediate rewards by intrinsic motivation to tackle the exploration problem in sparse reward environments. GAFlowNets can leverage edge-based and state-based intrinsic rewards in a joint way to improve exploration. Based on extensive experiments on the GridWorld task, we demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of GAFlowNet in terms of convergence, performance, and diversity of solutions. We further show that GAFlowNet is scalable to a more complex and large-scale molecule generation domain, where it achieves consistent and significant performance improvement.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Domain-Indexing Variational Bayes: Interpretable Domain Index for Domain Adaptation

Zihao Xu · Guang-Yuan Hao · Hao He · Hao Wang

Previous studies have shown that leveraging "domain index" can significantly boost domain adaptation performance (Wang et al., 2020; Xu et al., 2022). However, such domain indices are not always available. To address this challenge, we first provide a formal definition of domain index from the probabilistic perspective, and then propose an adversarial variational Bayesian framework that infers domain indices from multi-domain data, thereby providing additional insight on domain relations and improving domain adaptation performance. Our theoretical analysis shows that our adversarial variational Bayesian framework finds the optimal domain index at equilibrium. Empirical results on both synthetic and real data verify that our model can produce interpretable domain indices which enable us to achieve superior performance compared to state-of-the-art domain adaptation methods. Code is available at

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
SAM as an Optimal Relaxation of Bayes

Thomas Möllenhoff · Mohammad Emtiyaz Khan

Sharpness-aware minimization (SAM) and related adversarial deep-learning methods can drastically improve generalization, but their underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood. Here, we establish SAM as a relaxation of the Bayes objective where the expected negative-loss is replaced by the optimal convex lower bound, obtained by using the so-called Fenchel biconjugate. The connection enables a new Adam-like extension of SAM to automatically obtain reasonable uncertainty estimates, while sometimes also improving its accuracy. By connecting adversarial and Bayesian methods, our work opens a new path to robustness.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
A Laplace-inspired Distribution on SO(3) for Probabilistic Rotation Estimation

Yingda Yin · Yang Wang · He Wang · Baoquan Chen

Estimating the 3DoF rotation from a single RGB image is an important yet challenging problem. Probabilistic rotation regression has raised more and more attention with the benefit of expressing uncertainty information along with the prediction. Though modeling noise using Gaussian-resembling Bingham distribution and matrix Fisher distribution is natural, they are shown to be sensitive to outliers for the nature of quadratic punishment to deviations. In this paper, we draw inspiration from multivariate Laplace distribution and propose a novel Rotation Laplace distribution on SO(3). Rotation Laplace distribution is robust to the disturbance of outliers and enforces much gradient to the low-error region, resulting in a better convergence. Our extensive experiments show that our proposed distribution achieves state-of-the-art performance for rotation regression tasks over both probabilistic and non-probabilistic baselines. Our project page is at

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
GFlowNets and variational inference

Nikolay Malkin · Salem Lahlou · Tristan Deleu · Xu Ji · Edward Hu · Katie Everett · Dinghuai Zhang · Yoshua Bengio

This paper builds bridges between two families of probabilistic algorithms: (hierarchical) variational inference (VI), which is typically used to model distributions over continuous spaces, and generative flow networks (GFlowNets), which have been used for distributions over discrete structures such as graphs. We demonstrate that, in certain cases, VI algorithms are equivalent to special cases of GFlowNets in the sense of equality of expected gradients of their learning objectives. We then point out the differences between the two families and show how these differences emerge experimentally. Notably, GFlowNets, which borrow ideas from reinforcement learning, are more amenable than VI to off-policy training without the cost of high gradient variance induced by importance sampling. We argue that this property of GFlowNets can provide advantages for capturing diversity in multimodal target distributions. Code:

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
GRACE-C: Generalized Rate Agnostic Causal Estimation via Constraints

Mohammadsajad Abavisani · David Danks · Sergey Plis

Graphical structures estimated by causal learning algorithms from time series data can provide highly misleading causal information if the causal timescale of the generating process fails to match the measurement timescale of the data. Existing algorithms provide limited resources to respond to this challenge, and so researchers must either use models that they know are likely misleading, or else forego causal learning entirely. Existing methods face up-to-four distinct shortfalls, as they might a) require that the difference between causal and measurement timescales is known; b) only handle very small number of random variables when the timescale difference is unknown; c) only apply to pairs of variables (albeit with fewer assumptions about prior knowledge); or d) be unable to find a solution given statistical noise in the data. This paper aims to address these challenges. We present an approach that combines constraint programming with both theoretical insights into the problem structure and prior information about admissible causal interactions to achieve speed up of multiple orders of magnitude. The resulting system scales to significantly larger sets of random variables ($>100$) without knowledge of the timescale difference while maintaining theoretical guarantees. This method is also robust to edge misidentification and can use parametric connection strengths, while optionally finding the optimal among many possible solutions.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Energy-Based Test Sample Adaptation for Domain Generalization

Zehao Xiao · Xiantong Zhen · Shengcai Liao · Cees G Snoek

In this paper, we propose energy-based sample adaptation at test time for domain generalization. Where previous works adapt their models to target domains, we adapt the unseen target samples to source-trained models. To this end, we design a discriminative energy-based model, which is trained on source domains to jointly model the conditional distribution for classification and data distribution for sample adaptation. The model is optimized to simultaneously learn a classifier and an energy function. To adapt target samples to source distributions, we iteratively update the samples by energy minimization with stochastic gradient Langevin dynamics. Moreover, to preserve the categorical information in the sample during adaptation, we introduce a categorical latent variable into the energy-based model. The latent variable is learned from the original sample before adaptation by variational inference and fixed as a condition to guide the sample update. Experiments on six benchmarks for classification of images and microblog threads demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposal.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
MARS: Meta-learning as Score Matching in the Function Space

Kruno Lehman · Jonas Rothfuss · Andreas Krause

Meta-learning aims to extract useful inductive biases from a set of related datasets. In Bayesian meta-learning, this is typically achieved by constructing a prior distribution over neural network parameters. However, specifying families of computationally viable prior distributions over the high-dimensional neural network parameters is difficult. As a result, existing approaches resort to meta-learning restrictive diagonal Gaussian priors, severely limiting their expressiveness and performance. To circumvent these issues, we approach meta-learning through the lens of functional Bayesian neural network inference which views the prior as a stochastic process and performs inference in the function space. Specifically, we view the meta-training tasks as samples from the data-generating process and formalize meta-learning as empirically estimating the law of this stochastic process. Our approach can seamlessly acquire and represent complex prior knowledge by meta-learning the score function of the data-generating process marginals instead of parameter space priors. In a comprehensive benchmark, we demonstrate that our method achieves state-of-the-art performance in terms of predictive accuracy and substantial improvements in the quality of uncertainty estimates.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Active Learning in Bayesian Neural Networks with Balanced Entropy Learning Principle

Jae Oh Woo

Acquiring labeled data is challenging in many machine learning applications with limited budgets. Active learning gives a procedure to select the most informative data points and improve data efficiency by reducing the cost of labeling. The info-max learning principle maximizing mutual information such as BALD has been successful and widely adapted in various active learning applications. However, this pool-based specific objective inherently introduces a redundant selection and further requires a high computational cost for batch selection. In this paper, we design and propose a new uncertainty measure, Balanced Entropy Acquisition (BalEntAcq), which captures the information balance between the uncertainty of underlying softmax probability and the label variable. To do this, we approximate each marginal distribution by Beta distribution. Beta approximation enables us to formulate BalEntAcq as a ratio between an augmented entropy and the marginalized joint entropy. The closed-form expression of BalEntAcq facilitates parallelization by estimating two parameters in each marginal Beta distribution. BalEntAcq is a purely standalone measure without requiring any relational computations with other data points. Nevertheless, BalEntAcq captures a well-diversified selection near the decision boundary with a margin, unlike other existing uncertainty measures such as BALD, Entropy, or Mean Standard Deviation (MeanSD). Finally, we demonstrate that our balanced entropy learning principle with BalEntAcq consistently outperforms well-known linearly scalable active learning methods, including a recently proposed PowerBALD, a simple but diversified version of BALD, by showing experimental results obtained from MNIST, CIFAR-100, SVHN, and TinyImageNet datasets.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Active Learning for Object Detection with Evidential Deep Learning and Hierarchical Uncertainty Aggregation

Younghyun Park · Wonjeong Choi · Soyeong Kim · Dong-Jun Han · Jaekyun Moon

Despite the huge success of object detection, the training process still requires an immense amount of labeled data. Although various active learning solutions for object detection have been proposed, most existing works do not take advantage of epistemic uncertainty, which is an important metric for capturing the usefulness of the sample. Also, previous works pay little attention to the attributes of each bounding box (e.g., nearest object, box size) when computing the informativeness of an image. In this paper, we propose a new active learning strategy for object detection that overcomes the shortcomings of prior works. To make use of epistemic uncertainty, we adopt evidential deep learning (EDL) and propose a new module termed model evidence head (MEH), that makes EDL highly compatible with object detection. Based on the computed epistemic uncertainty of each bounding box, we propose hierarchical uncertainty aggregation (HUA) for obtaining the informativeness of an image. HUA realigns all bounding boxes into multiple levels based on the attributes and aggregates uncertainties in a bottom-up order, to effectively capture the context within the image. Experimental results show that our method outperforms existing state-of-the-art methods by a considerable margin.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Versatile Neural Processes for Learning Implicit Neural Representations

Zongyu Guo · Cuiling Lan · Zhizheng Zhang · Yan Lu · Zhibo Chen

Representing a signal as a continuous function parameterized by neural network (a.k.a. Implicit Neural Representations, INRs) has attracted increasing attention in recent years. Neural Processes (NPs), which model the distributions over functions conditioned on partial observations (context set), provide a practical solution for fast inference of continuous functions. However, existing NP architectures suffer from inferior modeling capability for complex signals. In this paper, we propose an efficient NP framework dubbed Versatile Neural Processes (VNP), which largely increases the capability of approximating functions. Specifically, we introduce a bottleneck encoder that produces fewer and informative context tokens, relieving the high computational cost while providing high modeling capability. At the decoder side, we hierarchically learn multiple global latent variables that jointly model the global structure and the uncertainty of a function, enabling our model to capture the distribution of complex signals. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed VNP on a variety of tasks involving 1D, 2D and 3D signals. Particularly, our method shows promise in learning accurate INRs w.r.t. a 3D scene without further finetuning.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Rhino: Deep Causal Temporal Relationship Learning with History-dependent Noise

Wenbo Gong · Joel Jennings · Cheng Zhang · Nick Pawlowski

Discovering causal relationships between different variables from time series data has been a long-standing challenge for many domains. For example, in stock markets, the announcement of acquisitions from leading companies may have immediate effects on stock prices and increase the uncertainty of the future market due to this past action. To discover causal relations in such case, the model needs to consider non-linear relations between variables, instantaneous effect and the change of noise distribution due to past actions. We name the latter as history-dependent noise. However, previous works do not offer a solution addressing all these problems together. In this paper, we propose a structural equation model, called Rhino, which combines vector auto-regression, deep learning and variational inference to model non-linear relationships with instantaneous effects while allowing the noise distribution to be modulated by history observations. Theoretically, we prove the structural identifiability of Rhino. Our empirical results from extensive synthetic experiments and two real-world benchmarks demonstrate better discovery performance compared to relevant baselines, with ablation studies revealing its robustness under model misspecification.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Causal Imitation Learning via Inverse Reinforcement Learning

Kangrui Ruan · Junzhe Zhang · Xuan Di · Elias Bareinboim

One of the most common ways children learn when unfamiliar with the environment is by mimicking adults. Imitation learning concerns an imitator learning to behave in an unknown environment from an expert's demonstration; reward signals remain latent to the imitator. This paper studies imitation learning through causal lenses and extends the analysis and tools developed for behavior cloning (Zhang, Kumor, Bareinboim, 2020) to inverse reinforcement learning. First, we propose novel graphical conditions that allow the imitator to learn a policy performing as well as the expert's behavior policy, even when the imitator and the expert's state-action space disagree, and unobserved confounders (UCs) are present. When provided with parametric knowledge about the unknown reward function, such a policy may outperform the expert's. Also, our method is easily extensible and allows one to leverage existing IRL algorithms even when UCs are present, including the multiplicative-weights algorithm (MWAL) (Syed & Schapire, 2008) and the generative adversarial imitation learning (GAIL) (Ho & Ermon, 2016). Finally, we validate our framework by simulations using real-world and synthetic data.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Neural Episodic Control with State Abstraction

Zhuo Li · Derui Zhu · Yujing Hu · Xiaofei Xie · Lei Ma · YAN ZHENG · Yan Song · Yingfeng Chen · Jianjun Zhao

Existing Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) algorithms suffer from sample inefficiency. Generally, episodic control-based approaches are solutions that leverage highly rewarded past experiences to improve sample efficiency of DRL algorithms. However, previous episodic control-based approaches fail to utilize the latent information from the historical behaviors (\eg, state transitions, topological similarities, \etc) and lack scalability during DRL training. This work introduces Neural Episodic Control with State Abstraction (NECSA), a simple but effective state abstraction-based episodic control containing a more comprehensive episodic memory, a novel state evaluation, and a multi-step state analysis. We evaluate our approach to the MuJoCo and Atari tasks in OpenAI gym domains. The experimental results indicate that NECSA achieves higher sample efficiency than the state-of-the-art episodic control-based approaches. Our data and code are available at the project website\footnote{\url{}}.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Greedy Actor-Critic: A New Conditional Cross-Entropy Method for Policy Improvement

Samuel Neumann · Sungsu Lim · Ajin Joseph · Yangchen Pan · Adam White · Martha White

Many policy gradient methods are variants of Actor-Critic (AC), where a value function (critic) is learned to facilitate updating the parameterized policy (actor). The update to the actor involves a log-likelihood update weighted by the action-values, with the addition of entropy regularization for soft variants. In this work, we explore an alternative update for the actor, based on an extension of the cross entropy method (CEM) to condition on inputs (states). The idea is to start with a broader policy and slowly concentrate around maximal actions, using a maximum likelihood update towards actions in the top percentile per state. The speed of this concentration is controlled by a proposal policy, that concentrates at a slower rate than the actor. We first provide a policy improvement result in an idealized setting, and then prove that our conditional CEM (CCEM) strategy tracks a CEM update per state, even with changing action-values. We empirically show that our Greedy AC algorithm, that uses CCEM for the actor update, performs better than Soft Actor-Critic and is much less sensitive to entropy-regularization.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Towards Effective and Interpretable Human-Agent Collaboration in MOBA Games: A Communication Perspective

Yiming Gao · Feiyu Liu · Liang Wang · Zhenjie Lian · Weixuan Wang · Siqin Li · Xianliang Wang · Xianhan Zeng · Rundong Wang · jiawei wang · QIANG FU · Yang Wei · Lanxiao Huang · Wei Liu

MOBA games, e.g., Dota2 and Honor of Kings, have been actively used as the testbed for the recent AI research on games, and various AI systems have been developed at the human level so far. However, these AI systems mainly focus on how to compete with humans, less on exploring how to collaborate with humans. To this end, this paper makes the first attempt to investigate human-agent collaboration in MOBA games. In this paper, we propose to enable humans and agents to collaborate through explicit communication by designing an efficient and interpretable Meta-Command Communication-based framework, dubbed MCC, for accomplishing effective human-agent collaboration in MOBA games. The MCC framework consists of two pivotal modules: 1) an interpretable communication protocol, i.e., the Meta-Command, to bridge the communication gap between humans and agents; 2) a meta-command value estimator, i.e., the Meta-Command Selector, to select a valuable meta-command for each agent to achieve effective human-agent collaboration. Experimental results in Honor of Kings demonstrate that MCC agents can collaborate reasonably well with human teammates and even generalize to collaborate with different levels and numbers of human teammates. Videos are available at

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
Learnable Behavior Control: Breaking Atari Human World Records via Sample-Efficient Behavior Selection

Jiajun Fan · Yuzheng Zhuang · Yuecheng Liu · Jianye HAO · Bin Wang · Jiangcheng Zhu · Hao Wang · Shu-Tao Xia

The exploration problem is one of the main challenges in deep reinforcement learning (RL). Recent promising works tried to handle the problem with population-based methods, which collect samples with diverse behaviors derived from a population of different exploratory policies. Adaptive policy selection has been adopted for behavior control. However, the behavior selection space is largely limited by the predefined policy population, which further limits behavior diversity. In this paper, we propose a general framework called Learnable Behavioral Control (LBC) to address the limitation, which a) enables a significantly enlarged behavior selection space via formulating a hybrid behavior mapping from all policies; b) constructs a unified learnable process for behavior selection. We introduce LBC into distributed off-policy actor-critic methods and achieve behavior control via optimizing the selection of the behavior mappings with bandit-based meta-controllers. Our agents have achieved 10077.52% mean human normalized score and surpassed 24 human world records within 1B training frames in the Arcade Learning Environment, which demonstrates our significant state-of-the-art (SOTA) performance without degrading the sample efficiency.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Population-size-Aware Policy Optimization for Mean-Field Games

Pengdeng Li · Xinrun Wang · Shuxin Li · Hau Chan · Bo An

In this work, we attempt to bridge the two fields of finite-agent and infinite-agent games, by studying how the optimal policies of agents evolve with the number of agents (population size) in mean-field games, an agent-centric perspective in contrast to the existing works focusing typically on the convergence of the empirical distribution of the population. To this end, the premise is to obtain the optimal policies of a set of finite-agent games with different population sizes. However, either deriving the closed-form solution for each game is theoretically intractable, training a distinct policy for each game is computationally intensive, or directly applying the policy trained in a game to other games is sub-optimal. We address these challenges through the \textbf{P}opulation-size-\textbf{A}ware \textbf{P}olicy \textbf{O}ptimization (PAPO). Our contributions are three-fold. First, to efficiently generate efficient policies for games with different population sizes, we propose PAPO, which unifies two natural options (augmentation and hypernetwork) and achieves significantly better performance. PAPO consists of three components: i) the population-size encoding which transforms the original value of population size to an equivalent encoding to avoid training collapse, ii) a hypernetwork to generate a distinct policy for each game conditioned on the population size, and iii) the population size as an additional input to the generated policy. Next, we construct a multi-task-based training procedure to efficiently train the neural networks of PAPO by sampling data from multiple games with different population sizes. Finally, extensive experiments on multiple environments show the significant superiority of PAPO over baselines, and the analysis of the evolution of the generated policies further deepens our understanding of the two fields of finite-agent and infinite-agent games.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
Is Conditional Generative Modeling all you need for Decision Making?

Anurag Ajay · Yilun Du · Abhi Gupta · Joshua B Tenenbaum · Tommi Jaakkola · Pulkit Agrawal

Recent improvements in conditional generative modeling have made it possible to generate high-quality images from language descriptions alone. We investigate whether these methods can directly address the problem of sequential decision-making. We view decision-making not through the lens of reinforcement learning (RL), but rather through conditional generative modeling. To our surprise, we find that our formulation leads to policies that can outperform existing offline RL approaches across standard benchmarks. By modeling a policy as a return-conditional generative model, we avoid the need for dynamic programming and subsequently eliminate many of the complexities that come with traditional offline RL. We further demonstrate the advantages of modeling policies as conditional generative models by considering two other conditioning variables: constraints and skills. Conditioning on a single constraint or skill during training leads to behaviors at test-time that can satisfy several constraints together or demonstrate a composition of skills. Our results illustrate that conditional generative modeling is a powerful tool for decision-making.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Conservative Bayesian Model-Based Value Expansion for Offline Policy Optimization

Jihwan Jeong · Xiaoyu Wang · Michael Gimelfarb · Hyunwoo Kim · Baher Abdulhai · Scott Sanner

Offline reinforcement learning (RL) addresses the problem of learning a performant policy from a fixed batch of data collected by following some behavior policy. Model-based approaches are particularly appealing in the offline setting since they can extract more learning signals from the logged dataset by learning a model of the environment. However, the performance of existing model-based approaches falls short of model-free counterparts, due to the compounding of estimation errors in the learned model. Driven by this observation, we argue that it is critical for a model-based method to understand when to trust the model and when to rely on model-free estimates, and how to act conservatively w.r.t. both. To this end, we derive an elegant and simple methodology called conservative Bayesian model-based value expansion for offline policy optimization (CBOP), that trades off model-free and model-based estimates during the policy evaluation step according to their epistemic uncertainties, and facilitates conservatism by taking a lower bound on the Bayesian posterior value estimate. On the standard D4RL continuous control tasks, we find that our method significantly outperforms previous model-based approaches: e.g., MOPO by $116.4$%, MOReL by $23.2$% and COMBO by $23.7$%. Further, CBOP achieves state-of-the-art performance on $11$ out of $18$ benchmark datasets while doing on par on the remaining datasets.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Building a Subspace of Policies for Scalable Continual Learning

Jean-Baptiste Gaya · Thang Doan · Lucas Caccia · Laure Soulier · Ludovic Denoyer · Roberta Raileanu

The ability to continuously acquire new knowledge and skills is crucial for autonomous agents. Existing methods are typically based on either fixed-size models that struggle to learn a large number of diverse behaviors, or growing-size models that scale poorly with the number of tasks. In this work, we aim to strike a better balance between scalability and performance by designing a method whose size grows adaptively depending on the task sequence. We introduce Continual Subspace of Policies (CSP), a new approach that incrementally builds a subspace of policies for training a reinforcement learning agent on a sequence of tasks. The subspace's high expressivity allows CSP to perform well for many different tasks while growing more slowly than the number of tasks. Our method does not suffer from forgetting and also displays positive transfer to new tasks. CSP outperforms a number of popular baselines on a wide range of scenarios from two challenging domains, Brax (locomotion) and Continual World (robotic manipulation). Interactive visualizations of the subspace can be found at

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Choreographer: Learning and Adapting Skills in Imagination

Pietro Mazzaglia · Tim Verbelen · Bart Dhoedt · Alexandre Lacoste · Sai Rajeswar

Unsupervised skill learning aims to learn a rich repertoire of behaviors without external supervision, providing artificial agents with the ability to control and influence the environment. However, without appropriate knowledge and exploration, skills may provide control only over a restricted area of the environment, limiting their applicability. Furthermore, it is unclear how to leverage the learned skill behaviors for adapting to downstream tasks in a data-efficient manner. We present Choreographer, a model-based agent that exploits its world model to learn and adapt skills in imagination. Our method decouples the exploration and skill learning processes, being able to discover skills in the latent state space of the model. During adaptation, the agent uses a meta-controller to evaluate and adapt the learned skills efficiently by deploying them in parallel in imagination. Choreographer is able to learn skills both from offline data, and by collecting data simultaneously with an exploration policy. The skills can be used to effectively adapt to downstream tasks, as we show in the URL benchmark, where we outperform previous approaches from both pixels and states inputs. The skills also explore the environment thoroughly, finding sparse rewards more frequently, as shown in goal-reaching tasks from the DMC Suite and Meta-World. Project website:

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Outcome-directed Reinforcement Learning by Uncertainty \& Temporal Distance-Aware Curriculum Goal Generation

Daesol Cho · Seungjae Lee · H. Kim

Current reinforcement learning (RL) often suffers when solving a challenging exploration problem where the desired outcomes or high rewards are rarely observed. Even though curriculum RL, a framework that solves complex tasks by proposing a sequence of surrogate tasks, shows reasonable results, most of the previous works still have difficulty in proposing curriculum due to the absence of a mechanism for obtaining calibrated guidance to the desired outcome state without any prior domain knowledge. To alleviate it, we propose an uncertainty \& temporal distance-aware curriculum goal generation method for the outcome-directed RL via solving a bipartite matching problem. It could not only provide precisely calibrated guidance of the curriculum to the desired outcome states but also bring much better sample efficiency and geometry-agnostic curriculum goal proposal capability compared to previous curriculum RL methods. We demonstrate that our algorithm significantly outperforms these prior methods in a variety of challenging navigation tasks and robotic manipulation tasks in a quantitative and qualitative way.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Investigating Multi-task Pretraining and Generalization in Reinforcement Learning

Adrien Ali Taiga · Rishabh Agarwal · Jesse Farebrother · Aaron Courville · Marc G Bellemare

Deep reinforcement learning~(RL) has achieved remarkable successes in complex single-task settings. However, designing RL agents that can learn multiple tasks and leverage prior experience to quickly adapt to a related new task remains challenging. Despite previous attempts to improve on these areas, our understanding of multi-task training and generalization in RL remains limited. To fill this gap, we investigate the generalization capabilities of a popular actor-critic method, IMPALA. Specifically, we build on previous work that has advocated for the use of modes and difficulties of Atari 2600 games as a challenging benchmark for transfer learning in RL. We do so by pretraining an agent on multiple variants of the same Atari game before fine-tuning on the remaining never-before-seen variants. This protocol simplifies the multi-task pretraining phase by limiting negative interference between tasks and allows us to better understand the dynamics of multi-task training and generalization. We find that, given a fixed amount of pretraining data, agents trained with more variations are able to generalize better. Surprisingly, we also observe that this advantage can still be present after fine-tuning for 200M environment frames than when doing zero-shot transfer. This highlights the potential effect of a good learned representation. We also find that, even though small networks have remained popular to solve Atari 2600 games, increasing the capacity of the value and policy network is critical to achieve good performance as we increase the number of pretraining modes and difficulties. Overall, our findings emphasize key points that are essential for efficient multi-task training and generalization in reinforcement learning.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
RLx2: Training a Sparse Deep Reinforcement Learning Model from Scratch

Yiqin Tan · Pihe Hu · Ling Pan · Jiatai Huang · Longbo Huang

Training deep reinforcement learning (DRL) models usually requires high computation costs. Therefore, compressing DRL models possesses immense potential for training acceleration and model deployment. However, existing methods that generate small models mainly adopt the knowledge distillation-based approach by iteratively training a dense network. As a result, the training process still demands massive computing resources. Indeed, sparse training from scratch in DRL has not been well explored and is particularly challenging due to non-stationarity in bootstrap training. In this work, we propose a novel sparse DRL training framework, “the Rigged Reinforcement Learning Lottery” (RLx2), which builds upon gradient-based topology evolution and is capable of training a sparse DRL model based entirely on a sparse network. Specifically, RLx2 introduces a novel multi-step TD target mechanism with a dynamic-capacity replay buffer to achieve robust value learning and efficient topology exploration in sparse models. It also reaches state-of-the-art sparse training performance in several tasks, showing $7.5\times$-$20\times$ model compression with less than $3\%$ performance degradation and up to $20\times$ and $50\times$ FLOPs reduction for training and inference, respectively.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Offline Reinforcement Learning via High-Fidelity Generative Behavior Modeling

Huayu Chen · Cheng Lu · Chengyang Ying · Hang Su · Jun Zhu

In offline reinforcement learning, weighted regression is a common method to ensure the learned policy stays close to the behavior policy and to prevent selecting out-of-sample actions. In this work, we show that due to the limited distributional expressivity of policy models, previous methods might still select unseen actions during training, which deviates from their initial motivation. To address this problem, we adopt a generative approach by decoupling the learned policy into two parts: an expressive generative behavior model and an action evaluation model. The key insight is that such decoupling avoids learning an explicitly parameterized policy model with a closed-form expression. Directly learning the behavior policy allows us to leverage existing advances in generative modeling, such as diffusion-based methods, to model diverse behaviors. As for action evaluation, we combine our method with an in-sample planning technique to further avoid selecting out-of-sample actions and increase computational efficiency. Experimental results on D4RL datasets show that our proposed method achieves competitive or superior performance compared with state-of-the-art offline RL methods, especially in complex tasks such as AntMaze. We also empirically demonstrate that our method can successfully learn from a heterogeneous dataset containing multiple distinctive but similarly successful strategies, whereas previous unimodal policies fail.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Information-Theoretic Characterization of the Generalization Error for Iterative Semi-Supervised Learning

Haiyun He · Hanshu Yan · Vincent Tan

Using information-theoretic principles, we consider the generalization error (gen-error) of iterative semi-supervised learning (SSL) algorithms that iteratively generate pseudo-labels for a large amount of unlabelled data to progressively refine the model parameters. In contrast to most previous works that bound the gen-error, we provide an exact expression for the gen-error and particularize it to the binary Gaussian mixture model. Our theoretical results suggest that when the class conditional variances are not too large, the gen-error decreases with the number of iterations, but quickly saturates. On the flip side, if the class conditional variances (and so amount of overlap between the classes) are large, the gen-error increases with the number of iterations. To mitigate this undesirable effect, we show that regularization can reduce the gen-error. The theoretical results are corroborated by extensive experiments on the MNIST and CIFAR datasets in which we notice that for easy-to-distinguish classes, the gen-error improves after several pseudo-labelling iterations, but saturates afterwards, and for more difficult-to-distinguish classes, regularization improves the generalization performance.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
Offline RL with No OOD Actions: In-Sample Learning via Implicit Value Regularization

Haoran Xu · Li Jiang · Jianxiong Li · Zhuoran Yang · Zhaoran Wang · Wai Chan · Xianyuan Zhan

Most offline reinforcement learning (RL) methods suffer from the trade-off between improving the policy to surpass the behavior policy and constraining the policy to limit the deviation from the behavior policy as computing $Q$-values using out-of-distribution (OOD) actions will suffer from errors due to distributional shift. The recent proposed \textit{In-sample Learning} paradigm (i.e., IQL), which improves the policy by quantile regression using only data samples, shows great promise because it learns an optimal policy without querying the value function of any unseen actions. However, it remains unclear how this type of method handles the distributional shift in learning the value function. In this work, we make a key finding that the in-sample learning paradigm arises under the \textit{Implicit Value Regularization} (IVR) framework. This gives a deeper understanding of why the in-sample learning paradigm works, i.e., it applies implicit value regularization to the policy. Based on the IVR framework, we further propose two practical algorithms, Sparse $Q$-learning (SQL) and Exponential $Q$-learning (EQL), which adopt the same value regularization used in existing works, but in a complete in-sample manner. Compared with IQL, we find that our algorithms introduce sparsity in learning the value function, making them more robust in noisy data regimes. We also verify the effectiveness of SQL and EQL on D4RL benchmark datasets and show the benefits of in-sample learning by comparing them with CQL in small data regimes. Code is available at \url{}.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Benchmarking Offline Reinforcement Learning on Real-Robot Hardware

Nico Gürtler · Sebastian Blaes · Pavel Kolev · Felix Widmaier · Manuel Wuthrich · Stefan Bauer · Bernhard Schoelkopf · Georg Martius

Learning policies from previously recorded data is a promising direction for real-world robotics tasks, as online learning is often infeasible. Dexterous manipulation in particular remains an open problem in its general form. The combination of offline reinforcement learning with large diverse datasets, however, has the potential to lead to a breakthrough in this challenging domain analogously to the rapid progress made in supervised learning in recent years. To coordinate the efforts of the research community toward tackling this problem, we propose a benchmark including: i) a large collection of data for offline learning from a dexterous manipulation platform on two tasks, obtained with capable RL agents trained in simulation; ii) the option to execute learned policies on a real-world robotic system and a simulation for efficient debugging. We evaluate prominent open-sourced offline reinforcement learning algorithms on the datasets and provide a reproducible experimental setup for offline reinforcement learning on real systems.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Planning Goals for Exploration

Edward Hu · Richard Chang · Oleh Rybkin · Dinesh Jayaraman

Dropped into an unknown environment, what should an agent do to quickly learn about the environment and how to accomplish diverse tasks within it? We address this question within the goal-conditioned reinforcement learning paradigm, by identifying how the agent should set its goals at training time to maximize exploration. We propose "Planning Exploratory Goals" (PEG), a method that sets goals for each training episode to directly optimize an intrinsic exploration reward. PEG first chooses goal commands such that the agent's goal-conditioned policy, at its current level of training, will end up in states with high exploration potential. It then launches an exploration policy starting at those promising states. To enable this direct optimization, PEG learns world models and adapts sampling-based planning algorithms to "plan goal commands". In challenging simulated robotics environments including a multi-legged ant robot in a maze, and a robot arm on a cluttered tabletop, PEG exploration enables more efficient and effective training of goal-conditioned policies relative to baselines and ablations. Our ant successfully navigates a long maze, and the robot arm successfully builds a stack of three blocks upon command. Website:

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
A CMDP-within-online framework for Meta-Safe Reinforcement Learning

Vanshaj Khattar · Yuhao Ding · Bilgehan Sel · Javad Lavaei · Ming Jin

Meta-reinforcement learning has widely been used as a learning-to-learn framework to solve unseen tasks with limited experience. However, the aspect of constraint violations has not been adequately addressed in the existing works, making their application restricted in real-world settings. In this paper, we study the problem of meta-safe reinforcement learning (meta-SRL) through the CMDP-within-online framework. We obtain task-averaged regret guarantees for the reward maximization (optimality gap) and constraint violations using gradient-based meta-learning and show that the task-averaged optimality gap and constraint satisfaction improve with task-similarity in the static environment, or task-relatedness in the changing environment. Several technical challenges arise when making this framework practical while still having strong theoretical guarantees. To address these challenges, we propose a meta-algorithm that performs inexact online learning on the upper bounds of intra-task optimality gap and constraint violations estimated by off-policy stationary distribution corrections. Furthermore, we enable the learning rates to be adapted for every task and extend our approach to settings with the dynamically changing task environments. Finally, experiments are conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach. The proposed theoretical framework is the first to handle the nonconvexity and stochastic nature of within-task CMDPs, while exploiting inter-task dependency for multi-task safe learning.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
The Provable Benefit of Unsupervised Data Sharing for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Hao Hu · Yiqin Yang · Qianchuan Zhao · Chongjie Zhang

Self-supervised methods have become crucial for advancing deep learning by leveraging data itself to reduce the need for expensive annotations. However, the question of how to conduct self-supervised offline reinforcement learning (RL) in a principled way remains unclear.In this paper, we address this issue by investigating the theoretical benefits of utilizing reward-free data in linear Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) within a semi-supervised setting. Further, we propose a novel, Provable Data Sharing algorithm (PDS) to utilize such reward-free data for offline RL. PDS uses additional penalties on the reward function learned from labeled data to prevent overestimation, ensuring a conservative algorithm. Our results on various offline RL tasks demonstrate that PDS significantly improves the performance of offline RL algorithms with reward-free data. Overall, our work provides a promising approach to leveraging the benefits of unlabeled data in offline RL while maintaining theoretical guarantees. We believe our findings will contribute to developing more robust self-supervised RL methods.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Imitating Graph-Based Planning with Goal-Conditioned Policies

Junsu Kim · Younggyo Seo · Sungsoo Ahn · Kyunghwan Son · Jinwoo Shin

Recently, graph-based planning algorithms have gained much attention to solve goal-conditioned reinforcement learning (RL) tasks: they provide a sequence of subgoals to reach the target-goal, and the agents learn to execute subgoal-conditioned policies. However, the sample-efficiency of such RL schemes still remains a challenge, particularly for long-horizon tasks. To address this issue, we present a simple yet effective self-imitation scheme which distills a subgoal-conditioned policy into the target-goal-conditioned policy. Our intuition here is that to reach a target-goal, an agent should pass through a subgoal, so target-goal- and subgoal- conditioned policies should be similar to each other. We also propose a novel scheme of stochastically skipping executed subgoals in a planned path, which further improves performance. Unlike prior methods that only utilize graph-based planning in an execution phase, our method transfers knowledge from a planner along with a graph into policy learning. We empirically show that our method can significantly boost the sample-efficiency of the existing goal-conditioned RL methods under various long-horizon control tasks.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Decision Transformer under Random Frame Dropping

Kaizhe Hu · Ray Chen Zheng · Yang Gao · Huazhe Xu

Controlling agents remotely with deep reinforcement learning~(DRL) in the real world is yet to come. One crucial stepping stone is to devise RL algorithms that are robust in the face of dropped information from corrupted communication or malfunctioning sensors. Typical RL methods usually require considerable online interaction data that are costly and unsafe to collect in the real world. Furthermore, when applying to the frame dropping scenarios, they perform unsatisfactorily even with moderate drop rates. To address these issues, we propose Decision Transformer under Random Frame Dropping~(DeFog), an offline RL algorithm that enables agents to act robustly in frame dropping scenarios without online interaction. DeFog first randomly masks out data in the offline datasets and explicitly adds the time span of frame dropping as inputs. After that, a finetuning stage on the same offline dataset with a higher mask rate would further boost the performance. Empirical results show that DeFog outperforms strong baselines under severe frame drop rates like 90\%, while maintaining similar returns under non-frame-dropping conditions in the regular MuJoCo control benchmarks and the Atari environments. Our approach offers a robust and deployable solution for controlling agents in real-world environments with limited or unreliable data.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
Transformers are Sample-Efficient World Models

Vincent Micheli · Eloi Alonso · François Fleuret

Deep reinforcement learning agents are notoriously sample inefficient, which considerably limits their application to real-world problems. Recently, many model-based methods have been designed to address this issue, with learning in the imagination of a world model being one of the most prominent approaches. However, while virtually unlimited interaction with a simulated environment sounds appealing, the world model has to be accurate over extended periods of time. Motivated by the success of Transformers in sequence modeling tasks, we introduce IRIS, a data-efficient agent that learns in a world model composed of a discrete autoencoder and an autoregressive Transformer. With the equivalent of only two hours of gameplay in the Atari 100k benchmark, IRIS achieves a mean human normalized score of 1.046, and outperforms humans on 10 out of 26 games, setting a new state of the art for methods without lookahead search. To foster future research on Transformers and world models for sample-efficient reinforcement learning, we release our code and models at

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
Extreme Q-Learning: MaxEnt RL without Entropy

Divyansh Garg · Joey Hejna · Matthieu Geist · Stefano Ermon

Modern Deep Reinforcement Learning (RL) algorithms require estimates of the maximal Q-value, which are difficult to compute in continuous domains with an infinite number of possible actions. In this work, we introduce a new update rule for online and offline RL which directly models the maximal value using Extreme Value Theory (EVT), drawing inspiration from economics. By doing so, we avoid computing Q-values using out-of-distribution actions which is often a substantial source of error. Our key insight is to introduce an objective that directly estimates the optimal soft-value functions (LogSumExp) in the maximum entropy RL setting without needing to sample from a policy. Using EVT, we derive our \emph{Extreme Q-Learning} framework and consequently online and, for the first time, offline MaxEnt Q-learning algorithms, that do not explicitly require access to a policy or its entropy. Our method obtains consistently strong performance in the D4RL benchmark, outperforming prior works by \emph{10+ points} on the challenging Franka Kitchen tasks while offering moderate improvements over SAC and TD3 on online DM Control tasks. Visualizations and code can be found on our website.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
In-context Reinforcement Learning with Algorithm Distillation

Michael Laskin · Luyu Wang · Junhyuk Oh · Emilio Parisotto · Stephen Spencer · Richie Steigerwald · DJ Strouse · Steven Hansen · Angelos Filos · Ethan Brooks · Maxime Gazeau · Himanshu Sahni · Satinder Singh · Volodymyr Mnih

We propose Algorithm Distillation (AD), a method for distilling reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms into neural networks by modeling their training histories with a causal sequence model. Algorithm Distillation treats learning to reinforcement learn as an across-episode sequential prediction problem. A dataset of learning histories is generated by a source RL algorithm, and then a causal transformer is trained by autoregressively predicting actions given their preceding learning histories as context. Unlike sequential policy prediction architectures that distill post-learning or expert sequences, AD is able to improve its policy entirely in-context without updating its network parameters. We demonstrate that AD can reinforcement learn in-context in a variety of environments with sparse rewards, combinatorial task structure, and pixel-based observations, and find that AD learns a more data-efficient RL algorithm than the one that generated the source data.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Pink Noise Is All You Need: Colored Noise Exploration in Deep Reinforcement Learning

Onno Eberhard · Jakob Hollenstein · Cristina Pinneri · Georg Martius

In off-policy deep reinforcement learning with continuous action spaces, exploration is often implemented by injecting action noise into the action selection process. Popular algorithms based on stochastic policies, such as SAC or MPO, inject white noise by sampling actions from uncorrelated Gaussian distributions. In many tasks, however, white noise does not provide sufficient exploration, and temporally correlated noise is used instead. A common choice is Ornstein-Uhlenbeck (OU) noise, which is closely related to Brownian motion (red noise). Both red noise and white noise belong to the broad family of colored noise. In this work, we perform a comprehensive experimental evaluation on MPO and SAC to explore the effectiveness of other colors of noise as action noise. We find that pink noise, which is halfway between white and red noise, significantly outperforms white noise, OU noise, and other alternatives on a wide range of environments. Thus, we recommend it as the default choice for action noise in continuous control.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
Confidence-Conditioned Value Functions for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Joey Hong · Aviral Kumar · Sergey Levine

Offline reinforcement learning (RL) promises the ability to learn effective policies solely using existing, static datasets, without any costly online interaction. To do so, offline RL methods must handle distributional shift between the dataset and the learned policy. The most common approach is to learn conservative, or lower-bound, value functions, which underestimate the return of OOD actions. However, such methods exhibit one notable drawback: policies optimized on such value functions can only behave according to a fixed, possibly suboptimal, degree of conservatism. However, this can be alleviated if we instead are able to learn policies for varying degrees of conservatism at training time and devise a method to dynamically choose one of them during evaluation. To do so, in this work, we propose learning value functions that additionally condition on the degree of conservatism, which we dub confidence-conditioned value functions. We derive a new form of a Bellman backup that simultaneously learns Q-values for any degree of confidence with high probability. By conditioning on confidence, our value functions enable adaptive strategies during online evaluation by controlling for confidence level using the history of observations thus far. This approach can be implemented in practice by conditioning the Q-function from existing conservative algorithms on the confidence. We theoretically show that our learned value functions produce conservative estimates of the true value at any desired confidence. Finally, we empirically show that our algorithm outperforms existing conservative offline RL algorithms on multiple discrete control domains.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Priors, Hierarchy, and Information Asymmetry for Skill Transfer in Reinforcement Learning

Sasha Salter · Kristian Hartikainen · Walter Goodwin · Ingmar Posner

The ability to discover behaviours from past experience and transfer them to new tasks is a hallmark of intelligent agents acting sample-efficiently in the real world. Equipping embodied reinforcement learners with the same ability may be crucial for their successful deployment in robotics. While hierarchical and KL-regularized reinforcement learning individually hold promise here, arguably a hybrid approach could combine their respective benefits. Key to these fields is the use of information asymmetry across architectural modules to bias which skills are learnt. While asymmetry choice has a large influence on transferability, existing methods base their choice primarily on intuition in a domain-independent, potentially sub-optimal, manner. In this paper, we theoretically and empirically show the crucial expressivity-transferability trade-off of skills across sequential tasks, controlled by information asymmetry. Given this insight, we introduce Attentive Priors for Expressive and Transferable Skills (APES), a hierarchical KL-regularized method, heavily benefiting from both priors and hierarchy. Unlike existing approaches, APES automates the choice of asymmetry by learning it in a data-driven, domain-dependent, way based on our expressivity-transferability theorems. Experiments over complex transfer domains of varying levels of extrapolation and sparsity, such as robot block stacking, demonstrate the criticality of the correct asymmetric choice, with APES drastically outperforming previous methods.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
MAESTRO: Open-Ended Environment Design for Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning

Mikayel Samvelyan · Akbir Khan · Michael Dennis · Minqi Jiang · Jack Parker-Holder · Jakob Foerster · Roberta Raileanu · Tim Rocktaeschel

Open-ended learning methods that automatically generate a curriculum of increasingly challenging tasks serve as a promising avenue toward generally capable reinforcement learning agents. Existing methods adapt curricula independently over either environment parameters (in single-agent settings) or co-player policies (in multi-agent settings). However, the strengths and weaknesses of co-players can manifest themselves differently depending on environmental features. It is thus crucial to consider the dependency between the environment and co-player when shaping a curriculum in multi-agent domains. In this work, we use this insight and extend Unsupervised Environment Design (UED) to multi-agent environments. We then introduce Multi-Agent Environment Design Strategist for Open-Ended Learning (MAESTRO), the first multi-agent UED approach for two-player zero-sum settings. MAESTRO efficiently produces adversarial, joint curricula over both environments and co-players and attains minimax-regret guarantees at Nash equilibrium. Our experiments show that MAESTRO outperforms a number of strong baselines on competitive two-player games, spanning discrete and continuous control settings.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Prompting GPT-3 To Be Reliable

Chenglei Si · Zhe Gan · Zhengyuan Yang · Shuohang Wang · Jianfeng Wang · Jordan Boyd-Graber · Lijuan Wang

Large language models (LLMs) show impressive abilities via few-shot prompting. Commercialized APIs such as OpenAI GPT-3 further increase their use in real-world language applications. However, the crucial problem of how to improve the reliability of GPT-3 is still under-explored. While reliability is a broad and vaguely defined term, we decompose reliability into four main facets that correspond to the existing framework of ML safety and are well-recognized to be important: generalizability, social biases, calibration, and factuality. Our core contribution is to establish simple and effective prompts that improve GPT-3’s reliability as it: 1) generalizes out-of-distribution, 2) balances demographic distribution and uses natural language instructions to reduce social biases, 3) calibrates output probabilities, and 4) updates the LLM’s factual knowledge and reasoning chains. With appropriate prompts, GPT-3 is more reliable than smaller-scale supervised models on all these facets. We release all processed datasets, evaluation scripts, and model predictions. Our systematic empirical study not only sheds new insights on the reliability of prompting LLMs, but more importantly, our prompting strategies can help practitioners more reliably use LLMs like GPT-3.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Temporal Disentanglement of Representations for Improved Generalisation in Reinforcement Learning

Mhairi Dunion · Trevor McInroe · Kevin Sebastian Luck · Josiah Hanna · Stefano Albrecht

Reinforcement Learning (RL) agents are often unable to generalise well to environment variations in the state space that were not observed during training. This issue is especially problematic for image-based RL, where a change in just one variable, such as the background colour, can change many pixels in the image. The changed pixels can lead to drastic changes in the agent's latent representation of the image, causing the learned policy to fail. To learn more robust representations, we introduce TEmporal Disentanglement (TED), a self-supervised auxiliary task that leads to disentangled image representations exploiting the sequential nature of RL observations. We find empirically that RL algorithms utilising TED as an auxiliary task adapt more quickly to changes in environment variables with continued training compared to state-of-the-art representation learning methods. Since TED enforces a disentangled structure of the representation, our experiments also show that policies trained with TED generalise better to unseen values of variables irrelevant to the task (e.g. background colour) as well as unseen values of variables that affect the optimal policy (e.g. goal positions).

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Interpretability in the Wild: a Circuit for Indirect Object Identification in GPT-2 Small

Kevin Wang · Alexandre Variengien · Arthur Conmy · Buck Shlegeris · Jacob Steinhardt

Research in mechanistic interpretability seeks to explain behaviors of ML models in terms of their internal components. However, most previous work either focuses on simple behaviors in small models, or describes complicated behaviors in larger models with broad strokes. In this work, we bridge this gap by presenting an explanation for how GPT-2 small performs a natural language task that requires logical reasoning: indirect object identification (IOI). Our explanation encompasses 28 attention heads grouped into 7 main classes, which we discovered using a combination of interpretability approaches including causal interventions and projections.To our knowledge, this investigation is the largest end-to-end attempt at reverse-engineering a natural behavior "in the wild" in a language model. We evaluate the reliability of our explanation using three quantitative criteria - faithfulness, completeness and minimality. Though these criteria support our explanation, they also point to remaining gaps in our understanding. Our work provides evidence that a mechanistic understanding of large ML models is feasible, opening opportunities to scale our understanding to both larger models and more complex tasks.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Incompatibility Clustering as a Defense Against Backdoor Poisoning Attacks

Charles Jin · Melinda Sun · Martin Rinard

We propose a novel clustering mechanism based on an incompatibility property between subsets of data that emerges during model training. This mechanism partitions the dataset into subsets that generalize only to themselves, i.e., training on one subset does not improve performance on the other subsets. Leveraging the interaction between the dataset and the training process, our clustering mechanism partitions datasets into clusters that are defined by—and therefore meaningful to—the objective of the training process.We apply our clustering mechanism to defend against data poisoning attacks, in which the attacker injects malicious poisoned data into the training dataset to affect the trained model's output. Our evaluation focuses on backdoor attacks against deep neural networks trained to perform image classification using the GTSRB and CIFAR-10 datasets. Our results show that (1) these attacks produce poisoned datasets in which the poisoned and clean data are incompatible and (2) our technique successfully identifies (and removes) the poisoned data. In an end-to-end evaluation, our defense reduces the attack success rate to below 1% on 134 out of 165 scenarios, with only a 2% drop in clean accuracy on CIFAR-10 and a negligible drop in clean accuracy on GTSRB.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
simpleKT: A Simple But Tough-to-Beat Baseline for Knowledge Tracing

Zitao Liu · Qiongqiong Liu · Jiahao Chen · Shuyan Huang · Weiqi Luo

Knowledge tracing (KT) is the problem of predicting students' future performance based on their historical interactions with intelligent tutoring systems. Recently, many works present lots of special methods for applying deep neural networks to KT from different perspectives like model architecture, adversarial augmentation and etc., which make the overall algorithm and system become more and more complex. Furthermore, due to the lack of standardized evaluation protocol \citep{liu2022pykt}, there is no widely agreed KT baselines and published experimental comparisons become inconsistent and self-contradictory, i.e., the reported AUC scores of DKT on ASSISTments2009 range from 0.721 to 0.821 \citep{minn2018deep,yeung2018addressing}. Therefore, in this paper, we provide a strong but simple baseline method to deal with the KT task named \textsc{simpleKT}. Inspired by the Rasch model in psychometrics, we explicitly model question-specific variations to capture the individual differences among questions covering the same set of knowledge components that are a generalization of terms of concepts or skills needed for learners to accomplish steps in a task or a problem. Furthermore, instead of using sophisticated representations to capture student forgetting behaviors, we use the ordinary dot-product attention function to extract the time-aware information embedded in the student learning interactions. Extensive experiments show that such a simple baseline is able to always rank top 3 in terms of AUC scores and achieve 57 wins, 3 ties and 16 loss against 12 DLKT baseline methods on 7 public datasets of different domains. We believe this work serves as a strong baseline for future KT research. Code is available at \url{}\footnote{We merged our model to the \textsc{pyKT} benchmark at \url{}.}.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Efficient Model Updates for Approximate Unlearning of Graph-Structured Data

Eli Chien · Chao Pan · Olgica Milenkovic

With the adoption of recent laws ensuring the ``right to be forgotten'', the problem of machine unlearning has become of significant importance. This is particularly the case for graph-structured data, and learning tools specialized for such data, including graph neural networks (GNNs). This work introduces the first known approach for \emph{approximate graph unlearning} with provable theoretical guarantees. The challenges in addressing the problem are two-fold. First, there exist multiple different types of unlearning requests that need to be considered, including node feature, edge and node unlearning. Second, to establish provable performance guarantees, one needs to carefully evaluate the process of feature mixing during propagation. We focus on analyzing Simple Graph Convolutions (SGC) and their generalized PageRank (GPR) extensions, thereby laying the theoretical foundations for unlearning GNNs. Empirical evaluations of six benchmark datasets demonstrate excellent performance/complexity/privacy trade-offs of our approach compared to complete retraining and general methods that do not leverage graph information. For example, unlearning $200$ out of $1208$ training nodes of the Cora dataset only leads to a $0.1\%$ loss in test accuracy, but offers a $4$-fold speed-up compared to complete retraining with a $(\epsilon,\delta)=(1,10^{-4})$ ``privacy cost''. We also exhibit a $12\%$ increase in test accuracy for the same dataset when compared to unlearning methods that do not leverage graph information, with comparable time complexity and the same privacy guarantee.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Re-weighting Based Group Fairness Regularization via Classwise Robust Optimization

Sangwon Jung · Taeeon Park · Sanghyuk Chun · Taesup Moon

Many existing group fairness-aware training methods aim to achieve the group fairness by either re-weighting underrepresented groups based on certain rules or using weakly approximated surrogates for the fairness metrics in the objective as regularization terms. Although each of the learning schemes has its own strength in terms of applicability or performance, respectively, it is difficult for any method in the either category to be considered as a gold standard since their successful performances are typically limited to specific cases. To that end, we propose a principled method, dubbed as FairDRO, which unifies the two learning schemes by incorporating a well-justified group fairness metric into the training objective using a classwise distributionally robust optimization (DRO) framework. We then develop an iterative optimization algorithm that minimizes the resulting objective by automatically producing the correct re-weights for each group. Our experiments show that FairDRO is scalable and easily adaptable to diverse applications, and consistently achieves the state-of-the-art performance on several benchmark datasets in terms of the accuracy-fairness trade-off, compared to recent strong baselines.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Private Federated Learning Without a Trusted Server: Optimal Algorithms for Convex Losses

Andrew Lowy · Meisam Razaviyayn

This paper studies federated learning (FL)—especially cross-silo FL—with data from people who do not trust the server or other silos. In this setting, each silo (e.g. hospital) has data from different people (e.g. patients) and must maintain the privacy of each person’s data (e.g. medical record), even if the server or other silos act as adversarial eavesdroppers. This requirement motivates the study of Inter-Silo Record-Level Differential Privacy (ISRL-DP), which requires silo $i$’s communications to satisfy record/item-level differential privacy (DP). ISRL-DP ensures that the data of each person (e.g. patient) in silo $i$ (e.g. hospital $i$) cannot be leaked. ISRL-DP is different from well-studied privacy notions. Central and user-level DP assume that people trust the server/other silos. On the other end of the spectrum, local DP assumes that people do not trust anyone at all (even their own silo). Sitting between central and local DP, ISRL-DP makes the realistic assumption (in cross-silo FL) that people trust their own silo, but not the server or other silos. In this work, we provide tight (up to logarithms) upper and lower bounds for ISRL-DP FL with convex/strongly convex loss functions and homogeneous (i.i.d.) silo data. Remarkably, we show that similar bounds are attainable for smooth losses with arbitrary heterogeneous silo data distributions, via an accelerated ISRL-DP algorithm. We also provide tight upper and lower bounds for ISRL-DP federated empirical risk minimization, and use acceleration to attain the optimal bounds in fewer rounds of communication than the state-of-the-art. Finally, with a secure “shuffler” to anonymize silo messages (but without a trusted server), our algorithm attains the optimal central DP rates under more practical trust assumptions. Numerical experiments show favorable privacy-accuracy tradeoffs for our algorithm in classification and regression tasks.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
The Implicit Bias of Minima Stability in Multivariate Shallow ReLU Networks

Mor Shpigel Nacson · Rotem Mulayoff · Greg Ongie · Tomer Michaeli · Daniel Soudry

We study the type of solutions to which stochastic gradient descent converges when used to train a single hidden-layer multivariate ReLU network with the quadratic loss. Our results are based on a dynamical stability analysis. In the univariate case, it was shown that linearly stable minima correspond to network functions (predictors), whose second derivative has a bounded weighted $L^1$ norm. Notably, the bound gets smaller as the step size increases, implying that training with a large step size leads to `smoother' predictors. Here we generalize this result to the multivariate case, showing that a similar result applies to the Laplacian of the predictor. We demonstrate the tightness of our bound on the MNIST dataset, and show that it accurately captures the behavior of the solutions as a function of the step size. Additionally, we prove a depth separation result on the approximation power of ReLU networks corresponding to stable minima of the loss. Specifically, although shallow ReLU networks are universal approximators, we prove that stable shallow networks are not. Namely, there is a function that cannot be well-approximated by stable single hidden-layer ReLU networks trained with a non-vanishing step size. This is while the same function can be realized as a stable two hidden-layer ReLU network. Finally, we prove that if a function is sufficiently smooth (in a Sobolev sense) then it can be approximated arbitrarily well using shallow ReLU networks that correspond to stable solutions of gradient descent.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Learning to Linearize Deep Neural Networks for Secure and Efficient Private Inference

SOUVIK KUNDU · Shunlin Lu · Yuke Zhang · Jacqueline Liu · Peter Beerel

The large number of ReLU non-linearity operations in existing deep neural networks makes them ill-suited for latency-efficient private inference (PI). Existing techniques to reduce ReLU operations often involve manual effort and sacrifice significant accuracy. In this paper, we first present a novel measure of non-linearity layers’ ReLU sensitivity, enabling mitigation of the time-consuming manual efforts in identifying the same. Based on this sensitivity, we then present SENet, a three-stage training method that for a given ReLU budget, automatically assigns per-layer ReLU counts, decides the ReLU locations for each layer’s activation map, and trains a model with significantly fewer ReLUs to potentially yield latency and communication efficient PI. Experimental evaluations with multiple models on various datasets show SENet’s superior performance both in terms of reduced ReLUs and improved classification accuracy compared to existing alternatives. In particular, SENet can yield models that require up to ∼2× fewer ReLUs while yielding similar accuracy. For a similar ReLU budget SENet can yield models with ∼2.32% improved classification accuracy, evaluated on CIFAR-100.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
On Achieving Optimal Adversarial Test Error

Justin D. Li · Matus Telgarsky

We first elucidate various fundamental properties of optimal adversarial predictors: the structure of optimal adversarial convex predictors in terms of optimal adversarial zero-one predictors, bounds relating the adversarial convex loss to the adversarial zero-one loss, and the fact that continuous predictors can get arbitrarily close to the optimal adversarial error for both convex and zero-one losses. Applying these results along with new Rademacher complexity bounds for adversarial training near initialization, we prove that for general data distributions and perturbation sets, adversarial training on shallow networks with early stopping and an idealized optimal adversary is able to achieve optimal adversarial test error. By contrast, prior theoretical work either considered specialized data distributions or only provided training error guarantees.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Ollivier-Ricci Curvature for Hypergraphs: A Unified Framework

Corinna Coupette · Sebastian Dalleiger · Bastian Rieck

Bridging geometry and topology, curvature is a powerful and expressive invariant. While the utility of curvature has been theoretically and empirically confirmed in the context of manifolds and graphs, its generalization to the emerging domain of hypergraphs has remained largely unexplored. On graphs, the Ollivier-Ricci curvature measures differences between random walks via Wasserstein distances, thus grounding a geometric concept in ideas from probability theory and optimal transport. We develop Orchid, a flexible framework generalizing Ollivier-Ricci curvature to hypergraphs, and prove that the resulting curvatures have favorable theoretical properties. Through extensive experiments on synthetic and real-world hypergraphs from different domains, we demonstrate that Orchid curvatures are both scalable and useful to perform a variety of hypergraph tasks in practice.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Learning Low Dimensional State Spaces with Overparameterized Recurrent Neural Nets

Edo Cohen-Karlik · Itamar Menuhin · Raja Giryes · Nadav Cohen · Amir Globerson

Overparameterization in deep learning refers to settings where a trained Neural Network (NN) has representational capacity to fit the training data in many ways, some of which generalize well, while others do not. In the case of Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) there exists an additional layer of overparameterization, in the sense that a model may exhibit many solutions that generalize well for sequence lengths seen in training, some of which \emph{extrapolate} to longer sequences, while others do not. Numerous works studied the tendency of Gradient Descent (GD) to fit overparameterized NNs with solutions that generalize well. On the other hand, its tendency to fit overparameterized RNNs with solutions that extrapolate has been discovered only lately, and is far less understood. In this paper, we analyze the extrapolation properties of GD when applied to overparameterized linear RNNs. In contrast to recent arguments suggesting an implicit bias towards short-term memory, we provide theoretical evidence for learning low dimensional state spaces, which can also model long-term memory. Our result relies on a dynamical characterization showing that GD (with small step size and near zero initialization) strives to maintain a certain form of balancedness, as well as tools developed in the context of the \emph{moment problem} from statistics (recovery of discrete probability distribution from its moments). Experiments corroborate our theory, demonstrating extrapolation via learning low dimensional state spaces with both linear and non-linear RNNs.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Meta-Learning in Games

Keegan Harris · Ioannis Anagnostides · Gabriele Farina · Mikhail Khodak · Steven Wu · Tuomas Sandholm

In the literature on game-theoretic equilibrium finding, focus has mainly been on solving a single game in isolation. In practice, however, strategic interactions—ranging from routing problems to online advertising auctions—evolve dynamically, thereby leading to many similar games to be solved. To address this gap, we introduce meta-learning for equilibrium finding and learning to play games. We establish the first meta-learning guarantees for a variety of fundamental and well-studied games, including two-player zero-sum games, general-sum games, Stackelberg games, and multiple extensions thereof. In particular, we obtain rates of convergence to different game-theoretic equilibria that depend on natural notions of similarity between the sequence of games encountered, while at the same time recovering the known single-game guarantees when the sequence of games is arbitrary. Along the way, we prove a number of new results in the single-game regime through a simple and unified framework, which may be of independent interest. Finally, we evaluate our meta-learning algorithms on endgames faced by the poker agent Libratus against top human professionals. The experiments show that games with varying stack sizes can be solved significantly faster using our meta-learning techniques than by solving them separately, often by an order of magnitude.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 5% paper
Towards Stable Test-time Adaptation in Dynamic Wild World

Shuaicheng Niu · Jiaxiang Wu · Yifan Zhang · Zhiquan Wen · Yaofo Chen · Peilin Zhao · Mingkui Tan

Test-time adaptation (TTA) has shown to be effective at tackling distribution shifts between training and testing data by adapting a given model on test samples. However, the online model updating of TTA may be unstable and this is often a key obstacle preventing existing TTA methods from being deployed in the real world. Specifically, TTA may fail to improve or even harm the model performance when test data have: 1) mixed distribution shifts, 2) small batch sizes, and 3) online imbalanced label distribution shifts, which are quite common in practice. In this paper, we investigate the unstable reasons and find that the batch norm layer is a crucial factor hindering TTA stability. Conversely, TTA can perform more stably with batch-agnostic norm layers, i.e., group or layer norm. However, we observe that TTA with group and layer norms does not always succeed and still suffers many failure cases. By digging into the failure cases, we find that certain noisy test samples with large gradients may disturb the model adaption and result in collapsed trivial solutions, i.e., assigning the same class label for all samples. To address the above collapse issue, we propose a sharpness-aware and reliable entropy minimization method, called SAR, for further stabilizing TTA from two aspects: 1) remove partial noisy samples with large gradients, 2) encourage model weights to go to a flat minimum so that the model is robust to the remaining noisy samples. Promising results demonstrate that SAR performs more stably than prior methods and is computationally efficient under the above wild test scenarios.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Task-customized Masked Autoencoder via Mixture of Cluster-conditional Experts

Zhili LIU · Kai Chen · Jianhua Han · Lanqing HONG · Hang Xu · Zhenguo Li · James Kwok

Masked Autoencoder (MAE) is a prevailing self-supervised learning method that achieves promising results in model pre-training. However, when the various downstream tasks have data distributions different from the pre-training data, the semantically irrelevant pre-training information might result in negative transfer, impeding MAE’s scalability. To address this issue, we propose a novel MAE-based pre-training paradigm, Mixture of Cluster-conditional Experts (MoCE), which can be trained once but provides customized pre-training models for diverse downstream tasks. Different from the mixture of experts (MoE), our MoCE trains each expert only with semantically relevant images by using cluster-conditional gates. Thus, each downstream task can be allocated to its customized model pre-trained with data most similar to the downstream data. Experiments on a collection of 11 downstream tasks show that MoCE outperforms the vanilla MAE by 2.45\% on average. It also obtains new state-of-the-art self-supervised learning results on detection and segmentation.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
AANG : Automating Auxiliary Learning

Lucio Dery · Paul Michel · Mikhail Khodak · Graham Neubig · Ameet Talwalkar

Auxiliary objectives, supplementary learning signals that are introduced to help aid learning on data-starved or highly complex end-tasks, are commonplace in machine learning. Whilst much work has been done to formulate useful auxiliary objectives, their construction is still an art which proceeds by slow and tedious hand-design. Intuition for how and when these objectives improve end-task performance has also had limited theoretical backing. In this work, we present an approach for automatically generating a suite of auxiliary objectives. We achieve this by deconstructing existing objectives within a novel unified taxonomy, identifying connections between them, and generating new ones based on the uncovered structure. Next, we theoretically formalize widely-held intuitions about how auxiliary learning improves generalization on the end-task. This leads us to a principled and efficient algorithm for searching the space of generated objectives to find those most useful to a specified end-task.With natural language processing (NLP) as our domain of study, we demonstrate that our automated auxiliary learning pipeline leads to strong improvements over competitive baselines across continued training experiments on a pre-trained model on 5 NLP end-tasks.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
When Source-Free Domain Adaptation Meets Learning with Noisy Labels

Li Yi · Gezheng Xu · Pengcheng Xu · Jiaqi Li · Ruizhi Pu · Charles Ling · Ian McLeod · Boyu Wang

Recent state-of-the-art source-free domain adaptation (SFDA) methods have focused on learning meaningful cluster structures in the feature space, which have succeeded in adapting the knowledge from source domain to unlabeled target domain without accessing the private source data. However, existing methods rely on the pseudo-labels generated by source models that can be noisy due to domain shift. In this paper, we study SFDA from the perspective of learning with label noise (LLN). Unlike the label noise in the conventional LLN scenario, we prove that the label noise in SFDA follows a different distribution assumption. We also prove that such a difference makes existing LLN methods that rely on their distribution assumptions unable to address the label noise in SFDA. Empirical evidence suggests that only marginal improvements are achieved when applying the existing LLN methods to solve the SFDA problem. On the other hand, although there exists a fundamental difference between the label noise in the two scenarios, we demonstrate theoretically that the early-time training phenomenon (ETP), which has been previously observed in conventional label noise settings, can also be observed in the SFDA problem. Extensive experiments demonstrate significant improvements to existing SFDA algorithms by leveraging ETP to address the label noise in SFDA.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Minimalistic Unsupervised Representation Learning with the Sparse Manifold Transform

Yubei Chen · Zeyu Yun · Yi Ma · Bruno Olshausen · Yann LeCun

We describe a minimalistic and interpretable method for unsupervised representation learning that does not require data augmentation, hyperparameter tuning, or other engineering designs, but nonetheless achieves performance close to the state-of-the-art (SOTA) SSL methods. Our approach leverages the sparse manifold transform, which unifies sparse coding, manifold learning, and slow feature analysis. With a one-layer deterministic (one training epoch) sparse manifold transform, it is possible to achieve $99.3\%$ KNN top-1 accuracy on MNIST, $81.1\%$ KNN top-1 accuracy on CIFAR-10, and $53.2\%$ on CIFAR-100. With simple gray-scale augmentation, the model achieves $83.2\%$ KNN top-1 accuracy on CIFAR-10 and $57\%$ on CIFAR-100. These results significantly close the gap between simplistic ``white-box'' methods and SOTA methods. We also provide visualization to illustrate how an unsupervised representation transform is formed. The proposed method is closely connected to latent-embedding self-supervised methods and can be treated as the simplest form of VICReg. Though a small performance gap remains between our simple constructive model and SOTA methods, the evidence points to this as a promising direction for achieving a principled and white-box approach to unsupervised representation learning, which has potential to significantly improve learning efficiency.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
STUNT: Few-shot Tabular Learning with Self-generated Tasks from Unlabeled Tables

Jaehyun Nam · Jihoon Tack · Kyungmin Lee · Hankook Lee · Jinwoo Shin

Learning with few labeled tabular samples is often an essential requirement for industrial machine learning applications as varieties of tabular data suffer from high annotation costs or have difficulties in collecting new samples for novel tasks. Despite the utter importance, such a problem is quite under-explored in the field of tabular learning, and existing few-shot learning schemes from other domains are not straightforward to apply, mainly due to the heterogeneous characteristics of tabular data. In this paper, we propose a simple yet effective framework for few-shot semi-supervised tabular learning, coined Self-generated Tasks from UNlabeled Tables (STUNT). Our key idea is to self-generate diverse few-shot tasks by treating randomly chosen columns as a target label. We then employ a meta-learning scheme to learn generalizable knowledge with the constructed tasks. Moreover, we introduce an unsupervised validation scheme for hyperparameter search (and early stopping) by generating a pseudo-validation set using STUNT from unlabeled data. Our experimental results demonstrate that our simple framework brings significant performance gain under various tabular few-shot learning benchmarks, compared to prior semi- and self-supervised baselines. Code is available at

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
A Unified Approach to Reinforcement Learning, Quantal Response Equilibria, and Two-Player Zero-Sum Games

Samuel Sokota · Ryan D'Orazio · Zico Kolter · Nicolas Loizou · Marc Lanctot · Ioannis Mitliagkas · Noam Brown · Christian Kroer

This work studies an algorithm, which we call magnetic mirror descent, that is inspired by mirror descent and the non-Euclidean proximal gradient algorithm. Our contribution is demonstrating the virtues of magnetic mirror descent as both an equilibrium solver and as an approach to reinforcement learning in two-player zero-sum games. These virtues include: 1) Being the first quantal response equilibria solver to achieve linear convergence for extensive-form games with first order feedback; 2) Being the first standard reinforcement learning algorithm to achieve empirically competitive results with CFR in tabular settings; 3) Achieving favorable performance in 3x3 Dark Hex and Phantom Tic-Tac-Toe as a self-play deep reinforcement learning algorithm.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Don’t fear the unlabelled: safe semi-supervised learning via debiasing

Hugo Schmutz · Olivier HUMBERT · Pierre-Alexandre Mattei

Semi-supervised learning (SSL) provides an effective means of leveraging unlabelled data to improve a model’s performance. Even though the domain has received a considerable amount of attention in the past years, most methods present the common drawback of lacking theoretical guarantees. Our starting point is to notice that the estimate of the risk that most discriminative SSL methods minimise is biased, even asymptotically. This bias impedes the use of standard statistical learning theory and can hurt empirical performance. We propose a simple way of removing the bias. Our debiasing approach is straightforward to implement and applicable to most deep SSL methods. We provide simple theoretical guarantees on the trustworthiness of these modified methods, without having to rely on the strong assumptions on the data distribution that SSL theory usually requires. In particular, we provide generalisation error bounds for the proposed methods. We evaluate debiased versions of different existing SSL methods, such as the Pseudo-label method and Fixmatch, and show that debiasing can compete with classic deep SSL techniques in various settings by providing better calibrated models. Additionally, we provide a theoretical explanation of the intuition of the popular SSL methods. An implementation of a debiased version of Fixmatch is available at

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Unsupervised Semantic Segmentation with Self-supervised Object-centric Representations

Andrii Zadaianchuk · Matthäus Kleindessner · Yi Zhu · Francesco Locatello · Thomas Brox

In this paper, we show that recent advances in self-supervised representation learning enable unsupervised object discovery and semantic segmentation with a performance that matches the state of the field on supervised semantic segmentation 10 years ago. We propose a methodology based on unsupervised saliency masks and self-supervised feature clustering to kickstart object discovery followed by training a semantic segmentation network on pseudo-labels to bootstrap the system on images with multiple objects. We show that while being conceptually simple our proposed baseline is surprisingly strong. We present results on PASCAL VOC that go far beyond the current state of the art (50.0 mIoU), and we report for the first time results on MS COCO for the whole set of 81 classes: our method discovers 34 categories with more than 20% IoU, while obtaining an average IoU of 19.6 for all 81 categories.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
wav2tok: Deep Sequence Tokenizer for Audio Retrieval

Adhiraj Banerjee · Vipul Arora

Search over audio sequences is a fundamental problem. In this paper, we propose a method to extract concise discrete representations for audio that can be used for efficient retrieval. Our motivation comes from orthography which represents speech of a given language in a concise and distinct discrete form. The proposed method, wav2tok, learns such representations for any kind of audio, speech or non-speech, from pairs of similar audio. wav2tok compresses the query and target sequences into shorter sequences of tokens that are faster to match. The learning method makes use of CTC loss and expectation-maximization algorithm, which are generally used for supervised automatic speech recognition and for learning discrete latent variables, respectively. Experiments show the consistent performance of wav2tok across two audio retrieval tasks: music search (query by humming) and speech search via audio query, outperforming state-of-the-art baselines.

In-Person Poster presentation / top 25% paper
Proposal-Contrastive Pretraining for Object Detection from Fewer Data

Quentin Bouniot · Romaric Audigier · Angelique Loesch · Amaury Habrard

The use of pretrained deep neural networks represents an attractive way to achieve strong results with few data available. When specialized in dense problems such as object detection, learning local rather than global information in images has proven to be more efficient. However, for unsupervised pretraining, the popular contrastive learning requires a large batch size and, therefore, a lot of resources. To address this problem, we are interested in transformer-based object detectors that have recently gained traction in the community with good performance and with the particularity of generating many diverse object proposals. In this work, we present Proposal Selection Contrast (ProSeCo), a novel unsupervised overall pretraining approach that leverages this property. ProSeCo uses the large number of object proposals generated by the detector for contrastive learning, which allows the use of a smaller batch size, combined with object-level features to learn local information in the images. To improve the effectiveness of the contrastive loss, we introduce the object location information in the selection of positive examples to take into account multiple overlapping object proposals. When reusing pretrained backbone, we advocate for consistency in learning local information between the backbone and the detection head. We show that our method outperforms state of the art in unsupervised pretraining for object detection on standard and novel benchmarks in learning with fewer data.

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Jointly Learning Visual and Auditory Speech Representations from Raw Data

Alexandros Haliassos · Pingchuan Ma · Rodrigo Mira · Stavros Petridis · Maja Pantic

We present RAVEn, a self-supervised multi-modal approach to jointly learn visual and auditory speech representations. Our pre-training objective involves encoding masked inputs, and then predicting contextualised targets generated by slowly-evolving momentum encoders. Driven by the inherent differences between video and audio, our design is asymmetric w.r.t. the two modalities' pretext tasks: Whereas the auditory stream predicts both the visual and auditory targets, the visual one predicts only the auditory targets. We observe strong results in low- and high-resource labelled data settings when fine-tuning the visual and auditory encoders resulting from a single pre-training stage, in which the encoders are jointly trained. Notably, RAVEn surpasses all self-supervised methods on visual speech recognition (VSR) on LRS3, and combining RAVEn with self-training using only 30 hours of labelled data even outperforms a recent semi-supervised method trained on 90,000 hours of non-public data. At the same time, we achieve state-of-the-art results in the LRS3 low-resource setting for auditory speech recognition (as well as for VSR). Our findings point to the viability of learning powerful speech representations entirely from raw video and audio, i.e., without relying on handcrafted features. Code and models are available at

In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept
Weighted Ensemble Self-Supervised Learning

Yangjun Ruan · Saurabh Singh · Warren Morningstar · Alexander Alemi · Sergey Ioffe · Ian Fischer · Joshua Dillon

Ensembling has proven to be a powerful technique for boosting model performance, uncertainty estimation, and robustness in supervised learning. Advances in self-supervised learning (SSL) enable leveraging large unlabeled corpora for state-of-the-art few-shot and supervised learning performance. In this paper, we explore how ensemble methods can improve recent SSL techniques by developing a framework that permits data-dependent weighted cross-entropy losses. We refrain from ensembling the representation backbone; this choice yields an efficient ensemble method that incurs a small training cost and requires no architectural changes or computational overhead to downstream evaluation. The effectiveness of our method is demonstrated with two state-of-the-art SSL methods, DINO (Caron et al., 2021) and MSN (Assran et al., 2022). Our method outperforms both in multiple evaluation metrics on ImageNet-1K, particularly in the few-shot setting. We explore several weighting schemes and find that those which increase the diversity of ensemble heads lead to better downstream evaluation results. Thorough experiments yield improved prior art baselines which our method still surpasses; e.g., our overall improvement with MSN ViT-B/16 is 3.9 p.p. for 1-shot learning.