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Pre-trained representations are becoming crucial for many NLP and perception tasks. While representation learning in NLP has transitioned to training on raw text without human annotations, visual and vision-language representations still rely heavily on curated training datasets that are expensive or require expert knowledge. For vision applications, representations are mostly learned using datasets with explicit class labels such as ImageNet or OpenImages. For vision-language, popular datasets like Conceptual Captions, MSCOCO, or CLIP all involve a non-trivial data collection (and cleaning) process. This costly curation process limits the size of datasets and hence hinders the scaling of trained models. In this paper, we leverage a noisy dataset of over one billion image alt-text pairs, obtained without expensive filtering or post-processing steps in the Conceptual Captions dataset. A simple dual-encoder architecture learns to align visual and language representations of the image and text pairs using a contrastive loss. We show that the scale of our corpus can make up for its noise and leads to state-of-the-art representations even with such a simple learning scheme. Our visual representation achieves strong performance when transferred to classification tasks such as ImageNet and VTAB. The aligned visual and language representations enables zero-shot image classification and also set new state-of-the-art results on Flickr30K and MSCOCO image-text retrieval benchmarks, even when compared with more sophisticated cross-attention models. The representations also enable cross-modality search with complex text and text + image queries.

We study the reward-free reinforcement learning framework, which is particularly suitable for batch reinforcement learning and scenarios where one needs policies for multiple reward functions. This framework has two phases: in the exploration phase, the agent collects trajectories by interacting with the environment without using any reward signal; in the planning phase, the agent needs to return a near-optimal policy for arbitrary reward functions. %This framework is suitable for batch RL setting and the setting where there are multiple reward functions of interes We give a new efficient algorithm, \textbf{S}taged \textbf{S}ampling + \textbf{T}runcated \textbf{P}lanning (\algoname), which interacts with the environment at most $O\left( \frac{S^2A}{\epsilon^2}\poly\log\left(\frac{SAH}{\epsilon}\right) \right)$ episodes in the exploration phase, and guarantees to output a near-optimal policy for arbitrary reward functions in the planning phase, where $S$ is the size of state space, $A$ is the size of action space, $H$ is the planning horizon, and $\epsilon$ is the target accuracy relative to the total reward. Notably, our sample complexity scales only \emph{logarithmically} with $H$, in contrast to all existing results which scale \emph{polynomially} with $H$. Furthermore, this bound matches the minimax lower bound $\Omega\left(\frac{S^2A}{\epsilon^2}\right)$ up to logarithmic factors. Our results rely on three new techniques : 1) A new sufficient condition for the dataset to plan for an $\epsilon$-suboptimal policy % for any totally bounded reward function ; 2) A new way to plan efficiently under the proposed condition using soft-truncated planning; 3) Constructing extended MDP to maximize the truncated accumulative rewards efficiently.

The display advertising industry has recently transitioned from second- to first-price auctions as its primary mechanism for ad allocation and pricing. In light of this, publishers need to re-evaluate and optimize their auction parameters, notably reserve prices. In this paper, we propose a gradient-based algorithm to adaptively update and optimize reserve prices based on estimates of bidders' responsiveness to experimental shocks in reserves. Our key innovation is to draw on the inherent structure of the revenue objective in order to reduce the variance of gradient estimates and improve convergence rates in both theory and practice. We show that revenue in a first-price auction can be usefully decomposed into a \emph{demand} component and a \emph{bidding} component, and introduce techniques to reduce the variance of each component. We characterize the bias-variance trade-offs of these techniques and validate the performance of our proposed algorithm through experiments on synthetic data and real display ad auctions data from a major ad exchange.

The study of strategic or adversarial manipulation of testing data to fool a classifier has attracted much recent attention. Most previous works have focused on two extreme situations where any testing data point either is completely adversarial or always equally prefers the positive label. In this paper, we generalize both of these through a unified framework for strategic classification and introduce the notion of strategic VC-dimension (SVC) to capture the PAC-learnability in our general strategic setup. SVC provably generalizes the recent concept of adversarial VC-dimension (AVC) introduced by Cullina et al. (2018). We instantiate our framework for the fundamental strategic linear classification problem. We fully characterize: (1) the statistical learnability of linear classifiers by pinning down its SVC; (2) it's computational tractability by pinning down the complexity of the empirical risk minimization problem. Interestingly, the SVC of linear classifiers is always upper bounded by its standard VC-dimension. This characterization also strictly generalizes the AVC bound for linear classifiers in (Cullina et al., 2018).

We introduce Deep Adaptive Design (DAD), a method for amortizing the cost of adaptive Bayesian experimental design that allows experiments to be run in real-time. Traditional sequential Bayesian optimal experimental design approaches require substantial computation at each stage of the experiment. This makes them unsuitable for most real-world applications, where decisions must typically be made quickly. DAD addresses this restriction by learning an amortized design network upfront and then using this to rapidly run (multiple) adaptive experiments at deployment time. This network represents a design policy which takes as input the data from previous steps, and outputs the next design using a single forward pass; these design decisions can be made in milliseconds during the live experiment. To train the network, we introduce contrastive information bounds that are suitable objectives for the sequential setting, and propose a customized network architecture that exploits key symmetries. We demonstrate that DAD successfully amortizes the process of experimental design, outperforming alternative strategies on a number of problems.

We view disentanglement learning as discovering an underlying structure that equivariantly reflects the factorized variations shown in data. Traditionally, such a structure is fixed to be a vector space with data variations represented by translations along individual latent dimensions. We argue this simple structure is suboptimal since it requires the model to learn to discard the properties (e.g. different scales of changes, different levels of abstractness) of data variations, which is an extra work than equivariance learning. Instead, we propose to encode the data variations with groups, a structure not only can equivariantly represent variations, but can also be adaptively optimized to preserve the properties of data variations. Considering it is hard to conduct training on group structures, we focus on Lie groups and adopt a parameterization using Lie algebra. Based on the parameterization, some disentanglement learning constraints are naturally derived. A simple model named Commutative Lie Group VAE is introduced to realize the group-based disentanglement learning. Experiments show that our model can effectively learn disentangled representations without supervision, and can achieve state-of-the-art performance without extra constraints.

Attention-based architectures have become ubiquitous in machine learning. Yet, our understanding of the reasons for their effectiveness remains limited. This work proposes a new way to understand self-attention networks: we show that their output can be decomposed into a sum of smaller terms---or paths---each involving the operation of a sequence of attention heads across layers. Using this path decomposition, we prove that self-attention possesses a strong inductive bias towards "token uniformity". Specifically, without skip connections or multi-layer perceptrons (MLPs), the output converges doubly exponentially to a rank-1 matrix. On the other hand, skip connections and MLPs stop the output from degeneration. Our experiments verify the convergence results on standard transformer architectures.

The cumulative empirical spectral measure (CESM) $\Phi[\mathbf{A}] : \mathbb{R} \to [0,1]$ of a $n\times n$ symmetric matrix $\mathbf{A}$ is defined as the fraction of eigenvalues of $\mathbf{A}$ less than a given threshold, i.e., $\Phi[\mathbf{A}](x) := \sum_{i=1}^{n} \frac{1}{n} {\large\unicode{x1D7D9}}[ \lambda_i[\mathbf{A}]\leq x]$. Spectral sums $\operatorname{tr}(f[\mathbf{A}])$ can be computed as the Riemann--Stieltjes integral of $f$ against $\Phi[\mathbf{A}]$, so the task of estimating CESM arises frequently in a number of applications, including machine learning. We present an error analysis for stochastic Lanczos quadrature (SLQ). We show that SLQ obtains an approximation to the CESM within a Wasserstein distance of $t \: | \lambda_{\text{max}}[\mathbf{A}] - \lambda_{\text{min}}[\mathbf{A}] |$ with probability at least $1-\eta$, by applying the Lanczos algorithm for $\lceil 12 t^{-1} + \frac{1}{2} \rceil$ iterations to $\lceil 4 ( n+2 )^{-1}t^{-2} \ln(2n\eta^{-1}) \rceil$ vectors sampled independently and uniformly from the unit sphere. We additionally provide (matrix-dependent) a posteriori error bounds for the Wasserstein and Kolmogorov--Smirnov distances between the output of this algorithm and the true CESM. The quality of our bounds is demonstrated using numerical experiments.

Exploration in unknown environments is a fundamental problem in reinforcement learning and control. In this work, we study task-guided exploration and determine what precisely an agent must learn about their environment in order to complete a particular task. Formally, we study a broad class of decision-making problems in the setting of linear dynamical systems, a class that includes the linear quadratic regulator problem. We provide instance- and task-dependent lower bounds which explicitly quantify the difficulty of completing a task of interest. Motivated by our lower bound, we propose a computationally efficient experiment-design based exploration algorithm. We show that it optimally explores the environment, collecting precisely the information needed to complete the task, and provide finite-time bounds guaranteeing that it achieves the instance- and task-optimal sample complexity, up to constant factors. Through several examples of the linear quadratic regulator problem, we show that performing task-guided exploration provably improves on exploration schemes which do not take into account the task of interest. Along the way, we establish that certainty equivalence decision making is instance- and task-optimal, and obtain the first algorithm for the linear quadratic regulator problem which is instance-optimal. We conclude with several experiments illustrating the effectiveness of our approach in practice.

Many transfer problems require re-using previously optimal decisions for solving new tasks, which suggests the need for learning algorithms that can modify the mechanisms for choosing certain actions independently of those for choosing others. However, there is currently no formalism nor theory for how to achieve this kind of modular credit assignment. To answer this question, we define modular credit assignment as a constraint on minimizing the algorithmic mutual information among feedback signals for different decisions. We introduce what we call the modularity criterion for testing whether a learning algorithm satisfies this constraint by performing causal analysis on the algorithm itself. We generalize the recently proposed societal decision-making framework as a more granular formalism than the Markov decision process to prove that for decision sequences that do not contain cycles, certain single-step temporal difference action-value methods meet this criterion while all policy-gradient methods do not. Empirical evidence suggests that such action-value methods are more sample efficient than policy-gradient methods on transfer problems that require only sparse changes to a sequence of previously optimal decisions.

Self-supervised learning on graph-structured data has drawn recent interest for learning generalizable, transferable and robust representations from unlabeled graphs. Among many, graph contrastive learning (GraphCL) has emerged with promising representation learning performance. Unfortunately, unlike its counterpart on image data, the effectiveness of GraphCL hinges on ad-hoc data augmentations, which have to be manually picked per dataset, by either rules of thumb or trial-and-errors, owing to the diverse nature of graph data. That significantly limits the more general applicability of GraphCL. Aiming to fill in this crucial gap, this paper proposes a unified bi-level optimization framework to automatically, adaptively and dynamically select data augmentations when performing GraphCL on specific graph data. The general framework, dubbed JOint Augmentation Optimization (JOAO), is instantiated as min-max optimization. The selections of augmentations made by JOAO are shown to be in general aligned with previous "best practices" observed from handcrafted tuning: yet now being automated, more flexible and versatile. Moreover, we propose a new augmentation-aware projection head mechanism, which will route output features through different projection heads corresponding to different augmentations chosen at each training step. Extensive experiments demonstrate that JOAO performs on par with or sometimes better than the state-of-the-art competitors including GraphCL, on multiple graph datasets of various scales and types, yet without resorting to any laborious dataset-specific tuning on augmentation selection. We release the code at https://github.com/Shen-Lab/GraphCL_Automated.

Recursive Neural Networks (RvNNs), which compose sequences according to their underlying hierarchical syntactic structure, have performed well in several natural language processing tasks compared to similar models without structural biases. However, traditional RvNNs are incapable of inducing the latent structure in a plain text sequence on their own. Several extensions have been proposed to overcome this limitation. Nevertheless, these extensions tend to rely on surrogate gradients or reinforcement learning at the cost of higher bias or variance. In this work, we propose Continuous Recursive Neural Network (CRvNN) as a backpropagation-friendly alternative to address the aforementioned limitations. This is done by incorporating a continuous relaxation to the induced structure. We demonstrate that CRvNN achieves strong performance in challenging synthetic tasks such as logical inference (Bowman et al., 2015b) and ListOps (Nangia & Bowman, 2018). We also show that CRvNN performs comparably or better than prior latent structure models on real-world tasks such as sentiment analysis and natural language inference.

Performing reliable Bayesian inference on a big data scale is becoming a keystone in the modern era of machine learning. A workhorse class of methods to achieve this task are Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms and their design to handle distributed datasets has been the subject of many works. However, existing methods are not completely either reliable or computationally efficient. In this paper, we propose to fill this gap in the case where the dataset is partitioned and stored on computing nodes within a cluster under a master/slaves architecture. We derive a user-friendly centralised distributed MCMC algorithm with provable scaling in high-dimensional settings. We illustrate the relevance of the proposed methodology on both synthetic and real data experiments.

Transformer based models, like BERT and RoBERTa, have achieved state-of-the-art results in many Natural Language Processing tasks. However, their memory footprint, inference latency, and power consumption are prohibitive efficient inference at the edge, and even at the data center. While quantization can be a viable solution for this, previous work on quantizing Transformer based models use floating-point arithmetic during inference, which cannot efficiently utilize integer-only logical units such as the recent Turing Tensor Cores, or traditional integer-only ARM processors. In this work, we propose I-BERT, a novel quantization scheme for Transformer based models that quantizes the entire inference with integer-only arithmetic. Based on lightweight integer-only approximation methods for nonlinear operations, e.g., GELU, Softmax, and Layer Normalization, I-BERT performs an end-to-end integer-only BERT inference without any floating point calculation. We evaluate our approach on GLUE downstream tasks using RoBERTa-Base/Large. We show that for both cases, I-BERT achieves similar (and slightly higher) accuracy as compared to the full-precision baseline. Furthermore, our preliminary implementation of I-BERT shows a speedup of 2.4- 4.0x for INT8 inference on a T4 GPU system as compared to FP32 inference. The framework has been developed in PyTorch and has been open-sourced.

Inspired by a new coded computation algorithm for invertible functions, we propose Coded-InvNet a new approach to design resilient prediction serving systems that can gracefully handle stragglers or node failures. Coded-InvNet leverages recent findings in the deep learning literature such as invertible neural networks, Manifold Mixup, and domain translation algorithms, identifying interesting research directions that span across machine learning and systems. Our experimental results show that Coded-InvNet can outperform existing approaches, especially when the compute resource overhead is as low as 10%. For instance, without knowing which of the ten workers is going to fail, our algorithm can design a backup task so that it can correctly recover the missing prediction result with an accuracy of 85.9%, significantly outperforming the previous SOTA by 32.5%.

Recent works (White et al., 2020a; Yan et al., 2020) demonstrate the importance of architecture encodings in Neural Architecture Search (NAS). These encodings encode either structure or computation information of the neural architectures. Compared to structure-aware encodings, computation-aware encodings map architectures with similar accuracies to the same region, which improves the downstream architecture search performance (Zhang et al., 2019; White et al., 2020a). In this work, we introduce a Computation-Aware Transformer-based Encoding method called CATE. Different from existing computation-aware encodings based on fixed transformation (e.g. path encoding), CATE employs a pairwise pre-training scheme to learn computation-aware encodings using Transformers with cross-attention. Such learned encodings contain dense and contextualized computation information of neural architectures. We compare CATE with eleven encodings under three major encoding-dependent NAS subroutines in both small and large search spaces. Our experiments show that CATE is beneficial to the downstream search, especially in the large search space. Moreover, the outside search space experiment demonstrates its superior generalization ability beyond the search space on which it was trained. Our code is available at: https://github.com/MSU-MLSys-Lab/CATE.

Standard training via empirical risk minimization (ERM) can produce models that achieve low error on average but high error on minority groups, especially in the presence of spurious correlations between the input and label. Prior approaches to this problem, like group distributionally robust optimization (group DRO), generally require group annotations for every training point. On the other hand, approaches that do not use group annotations generally do not improve minority performance. For example, we find that joint DRO, which dynamically upweights examples with high training loss, tends to optimize for examples that are irrelevant to the specific groups we seek to do well on. In this paper, we propose a simple two-stage approach, JTT, that achieves comparable performance to group DRO while only requiring group annotations on a significantly smaller validation set. JTT first attempts to identify informative training examples, which are often minority examples, by training an initial ERM classifier and selecting the examples with high training loss. Then, it trains a final classifier by upsampling the selected examples. Crucially, unlike joint DRO, JTT does not iteratively upsample examples that have high loss under the final classifier. On four image classification and natural language processing tasks with spurious correlations, we show that JTT closes 85% of the gap in accuracy on the worst group between ERM and group DRO.

We study multi-objective reinforcement learning (RL) where an agent's reward is represented as a vector. In settings where an agent competes against opponents, its performance is measured by the distance of its average return vector to a target set. We develop statistically and computationally efficient algorithms to approach the associated target set. Our results extend Blackwell's approachability theorem~\citep{blackwell1956analog} to tabular RL, where strategic exploration becomes essential. The algorithms presented are adaptive; their guarantees hold even without Blackwell's approachability condition. If the opponents use fixed policies, we give an improved rate of approaching the target set while also tackling the more ambitious goal of simultaneously minimizing a scalar cost function. We discuss our analysis for this special case by relating our results to previous works on constrained RL. To our knowledge, this work provides the first provably efficient algorithms for vector-valued Markov games and our theoretical guarantees are near-optimal.

The time and effort involved in hand-designing deep neural networks is immense. This has prompted the development of Neural Architecture Search (NAS) techniques to automate this design. However, NAS algorithms tend to be slow and expensive; they need to train vast numbers of candidate networks to inform the search process. This could be alleviated if we could partially predict a network's trained accuracy from its initial state. In this work, we examine the overlap of activations between datapoints in untrained networks and motivate how this can give a measure which is usefully indicative of a network’s trained performance. We incorporate this measure into a simple algorithm that allows us to search for powerful networks without any training in a matter of seconds on a single GPU, and verify its effectiveness on NAS-Bench-101, NAS-Bench-201, NATS-Bench, and Network Design Spaces. Our approach can be readily combined with more expensive search methods; we examine a simple adaptation of regularised evolutionary search. Code for reproducing our experiments is available at https://github.com/BayesWatch/nas-without-training.

Efficient evaluation of a network architecture drawn from a large search space remains a key challenge in Neural Architecture Search (NAS). Vanilla NAS evaluates each architecture by training from scratch, which gives the true performance but is extremely time-consuming. Recently, one-shot NAS substantially reduces the computation cost by training only one supernetwork, a.k.a. supernet, to approximate the performance of every architecture in the search space via weight-sharing. However, the performance estimation can be very inaccurate due to the co-adaption among operations. In this paper, we propose few-shot NAS that uses multiple supernetworks, called sub-supernet, each covering different regions of the search space to alleviate the undesired co-adaption. Compared to one-shot NAS, few-shot NAS improves the accuracy of architecture evaluation with a small increase of evaluation cost. With only up to 7 sub-supernets, few-shot NAS establishes new SoTAs: on ImageNet, it finds models that reach 80.5% top-1 accuracy at 600 MB FLOPS and 77.5% top-1 accuracy at 238 MFLOPS; on CIFAR10, it reaches 98.72% top-1 accuracy without using extra data or transfer learning. In Auto-GAN, few-shot NAS outperforms the previously published results by up to 20%. Extensive experiments show that few-shot NAS significantly improves various one-shot methods, including 4 gradient-based and 6 search-based methods on 3 different tasks in NasBench-201 and NasBench1-shot-1.

In the stochastic submodular cover problem, the goal is to select a subset of stochastic items of minimum expected cost to cover a submodular function. Solutions in this setting correspond to a sequential decision process that selects items one by one ``adaptively'' (depending on prior observations). While such adaptive solutions achieve the best objective, the inherently sequential nature makes them undesirable in many applications. We ask: \emph{how well can solutions with only a few adaptive rounds approximate fully-adaptive solutions?} We consider both cases where the stochastic items are independent, and where they are correlated. For both situations, we obtain nearly tight answers, establishing smooth tradeoffs between the number of adaptive rounds and the solution quality, relative to fully adaptive solutions. Experiments on synthetic and real datasets validate the practical performance of our algorithms, showing qualitative improvements in the solutions as we allow more rounds of adaptivity; in practice, solutions using just a few rounds of adaptivity are nearly as good as fully adaptive solutions.

Although Label Distribution Learning (LDL) has witnessed extensive classification applications, it faces the challenge of objective mismatch -- the objective of LDL mismatches that of classification, which has seldom been noticed in existing studies. Our goal is to solve the objective mismatch and improve the classification performance of LDL. Specifically, we extend the margin theory to LDL and propose a new LDL method called \textbf{L}abel \textbf{D}istribution \textbf{L}earning \textbf{M}achine (LDLM). First, we define the label distribution margin and propose the \textbf{S}upport \textbf{V}ector \textbf{R}egression \textbf{M}achine (SVRM) to learn the optimal label. Second, we propose the adaptive margin loss to learn label description degrees. In theoretical analysis, we develop a generalization theory for the SVRM and analyze the generalization of LDLM. Experimental results validate the better classification performance of LDLM.

Despite their overwhelming capacity to overfit, deep neural networks trained by specific optimization algorithms tend to generalize relatively well to unseen data. Recently, researchers explained it by investigating the implicit bias of optimization algorithms. A remarkable progress is the work (Lyu & Li, 2019), which proves gradient descent (GD) maximizes the margin of homogeneous deep neural networks. Except the first-order optimization algorithms like GD, adaptive algorithms such as AdaGrad, RMSProp and Adam are popular owing to their rapid training process. Mean-while, numerous works have provided empirical evidence that adaptive methods may suffer from poor generalization performance. However, theoretical explanation for the generalization of adaptive optimization algorithms is still lacking. In this paper, we study the implicit bias of adaptive optimization algorithms on homogeneous neural networks. In particular, we study the convergent direction of parameters when they are optimizing the logistic loss. We prove that the convergent direction of Adam and RMSProp is the same as GD, while for AdaGrad, the convergent direction depends on the adaptive conditioner. Technically, we provide a unified framework to analyze convergent direction of adaptive optimization algorithms by constructing novel and nontrivial adaptive gradient flow and surrogate margin. The theoretical findings explain the superiority on generalization of exponential moving average strategy that is adopted by RMSProp and Adam. To the best of knowledge, it is the first work to study the convergent direction of adaptive optimizations on non-linear deep neural networks

GPT-3 can perform numerous tasks when provided a natural language prompt that contains a few training examples. We show that this type of few-shot learning can be unstable: the choice of prompt format, training examples, and even the order of the examples can cause accuracy to vary from near chance to near state-of-the-art. We demonstrate that this instability arises from the bias of language models towards predicting certain answers, e.g., those that are placed near the end of the prompt or are common in the pre-training data. To mitigate this, we first estimate the model's bias towards each answer by asking for its prediction when given a training prompt and a content-free test input such as "N/A". We then fit calibration parameters that cause the prediction for this input to be uniform across answers. On a diverse set of tasks, this contextual calibration procedure substantially improves GPT-3 and GPT-2's accuracy (up to 30.0% absolute) across different choices of the prompt, while also making learning considerably more stable.

Exploration is critical for good results in deep reinforcement learning and has attracted much attention. However, existing multi-agent deep reinforcement learning algorithms still use mostly noise-based techniques. Very recently, exploration methods that consider cooperation among multiple agents have been developed. However, existing methods suffer from a common challenge: agents struggle to identify states that are worth exploring, and hardly coordinate exploration efforts toward those states. To address this shortcoming, in this paper, we propose cooperative multi-agent exploration (CMAE): agents share a common goal while exploring. The goal is selected from multiple projected state spaces by a normalized entropy-based technique. Then, agents are trained to reach the goal in a coordinated manner. We demonstrate that CMAE consistently outperforms baselines on various tasks, including a sparse-reward version of multiple-particle environment (MPE) and the Starcraft multi-agent challenge (SMAC).