Total: 1017

In this paper, we investigate a new multi-armed bandit (MAB) online learning model that considers real-world phenomena in many recommender systems: (i) the learning agent cannot pull the arms by itself and thus has to offer rewards to users to incentivize arm-pulling indirectly; and (ii) if users with specific arm preferences are well rewarded, they induce a "self-reinforcing" effect in the sense that they will attract more users of similar arm preferences. Besides addressing the tradeoff of exploration and exploitation, another key feature of this new MAB model is to balance reward and incentivizing payment. The goal of the agent is to maximize the total reward over a fixed time horizon $T$ with a low total payment. Our contributions in this paper are two-fold: (i) We propose a new MAB model with random arm selection that considers the relationship of users' self-reinforcing preferences and incentives; and (ii) We leverage the properties of a multi-color Polya urn with nonlinear feedback model to propose two MAB policies termed "At-Least-$n$ Explore-Then-Commit" and "UCB-List". We prove that both policies achieve $O(log T)$ expected regret with $O(log T)$ expected payment over a time horizon $T$. We conduct numerical simulations to demonstrate and verify the performances of these two policies and study their robustness under various settings.

We introduce a method to determine if a certain capability helps to achieve an accurate model of given data. We view labels as being generated from the inputs by a program composed of subroutines with different capabilities, and we posit that a subroutine is useful if and only if the minimal program that invokes it is shorter than the one that does not. Since minimum program length is uncomputable, we instead estimate the labels' minimum description length (MDL) as a proxy, giving us a theoretically-grounded method for analyzing dataset characteristics. We call the method Rissanen Data Analysis (RDA) after the father of MDL, and we showcase its applicability on a wide variety of settings in NLP, ranging from evaluating the utility of generating subquestions before answering a question, to analyzing the value of rationales and explanations, to investigating the importance of different parts of speech, and uncovering dataset gender bias.

Offline Reinforcement Learning promises to learn effective policies from previously-collected, static datasets without the need for exploration. However, existing Q-learning and actor-critic based off-policy RL algorithms fail when bootstrapping from out-of-distribution (OOD) actions or states. We hypothesize that a key missing ingredient from the existing methods is a proper treatment of uncertainty in the offline setting. We propose Uncertainty Weighted Actor-Critic (UWAC), an algorithm that detects OOD state-action pairs and down-weights their contribution in the training objectives accordingly. Implementation-wise, we adopt a practical and effective dropout-based uncertainty estimation method that introduces very little overhead over existing RL algorithms. Empirically, we observe that UWAC substantially improves model stability during training. In addition, UWAC out-performs existing offline RL methods on a variety of competitive tasks, and achieves significant performance gains over the state-of-the-art baseline on datasets with sparse demonstrations collected from human experts.

Training agents to autonomously control anthropomorphic robotic hands has the potential to lead to systems capable of performing a multitude of complex manipulation tasks in unstructured and uncertain environments. In this work, we first introduce a suite of challenging simulated manipulation tasks where current reinforcement learning and trajectory optimisation techniques perform poorly. These include environments where two simulated hands have to pass or throw objects between each other, as well as an environment where the agent must learn to spin a long pen between its fingers. We then introduce a simple trajectory optimisation algorithm that performs significantly better than existing methods on these environments. Finally, on the most challenging ``PenSpin" task, we combine sub-optimal demonstrations generated through trajectory optimisation with off-policy reinforcement learning, obtaining performance that far exceeds either of these approaches individually. Videos of all of our results are available at: https://dexterous-manipulation.github.io

We consider the exploration-exploitation dilemma in finite-horizon reinforcement learning problems whose state-action space is endowed with a metric. We introduce Kernel-UCBVI, a model-based optimistic algorithm that leverages the smoothness of the MDP and a non-parametric kernel estimator of the rewards and transitions to efficiently balance exploration and exploitation. For problems with $K$ episodes and horizon $H$, we provide a regret bound of $\widetilde{O}\left( H^3 K^{\frac{2d}{2d+1}}\right)$, where $d$ is the covering dimension of the joint state-action space. This is the first regret bound for kernel-based RL using smoothing kernels, which requires very weak assumptions on the MDP and applies to a wide range of tasks. We empirically validate our approach in continuous MDPs with sparse rewards.

Given an inverse problem with a normalizing flow prior, we wish to estimate the distribution of the underlying signal conditioned on the observations. We approach this problem as a task of conditional inference on the pre-trained unconditional flow model. We first establish that this is computationally hard for a large class of flow models. Motivated by this, we propose a framework for approximate inference that estimates the target conditional as a composition of two flow models. This formulation leads to a stable variational inference training procedure that avoids adversarial training. Our method is evaluated on a variety of inverse problems and is shown to produce high-quality samples with uncertainty quantification. We further demonstrate that our approach can be amortized for zero-shot inference.

One of the ways that machine learning algorithms can help control the spread of an infectious disease is by building models that predict who is likely to become infected making them good candidates for preemptive interventions. In this work we ask: can we build reliable infection prediction models when the observed data is collected under limited, and biased testing that prioritizes testing symptomatic individuals? Our analysis suggests that when the infection is highly transmissible, incomplete testing might be sufficient to achieve good out-of-sample prediction error. Guided by this insight, we develop an algorithm that predicts infections, and show that it outperforms baselines on simulated data. We apply our model to data from a large hospital to predict Clostridioides difficile infections; a communicable disease that is characterized by both symptomatically infected and asymptomatic (i.e., untested) carriers. Using a proxy instead of the unobserved untested-infected state, we show that our model outperforms benchmarks in predicting infections.

That neural networks may be pruned to high sparsities and retain high accuracy is well established. Recent research efforts focus on pruning immediately after initialization so as to allow the computational savings afforded by sparsity to extend to the training process. In this work, we introduce a new `DCT plus Sparse' layer architecture, which maintains information propagation and trainability even with as little as 0.01% trainable parameters remaining. We show that standard training of networks built with these layers, and pruned at initialization, achieves state-of-the-art accuracy for extreme sparsities on a variety of benchmark network architectures and datasets. Moreover, these results are achieved using only simple heuristics to determine the locations of the trainable parameters in the network, and thus without having to initially store or compute with the full, unpruned network, as is required by competing prune-at-initialization algorithms. Switching from standard sparse layers to DCT plus Sparse layers does not increase the storage footprint of a network and incurs only a small additional computational overhead.

This paper presents a novel approach for hierarchical time series forecasting that produces coherent, probabilistic forecasts without requiring any explicit post-processing reconciliation. Unlike the state-of-the-art, the proposed method simultaneously learns from all time series in the hierarchy and incorporates the reconciliation step into a single trainable model. This is achieved by applying the reparameterization trick and casting reconciliation as an optimization problem with a closed-form solution. These model features make end-to-end learning of hierarchical forecasts possible, while accomplishing the challenging task of generating forecasts that are both probabilistic and coherent. Importantly, our approach also accommodates general aggregation constraints including grouped and temporal hierarchies. An extensive empirical evaluation on real-world hierarchical datasets demonstrates the advantages of the proposed approach over the state-of-the-art.

Unsupervised domain adaptation is used in many machine learning applications where, during training, a model has access to unlabeled data in the target domain, and a related labeled dataset. In this paper, we introduce a novel and general domain-adversarial framework. Specifically, we derive a novel generalization bound for domain adaptation that exploits a new measure of discrepancy between distributions based on a variational characterization of f-divergences. It recovers the theoretical results from Ben-David et al. (2010a) as a special case and supports divergences used in practice. Based on this bound, we derive a new algorithmic framework that introduces a key correction in the original adversarial training method of Ganin et al. (2016). We show that many regularizers and ad-hoc objectives introduced over the last years in this framework are then not required to achieve performance comparable to (if not better than) state-of-the-art domain-adversarial methods. Experimental analysis conducted on real-world natural language and computer vision datasets show that our framework outperforms existing baselines, and obtains the best results for f-divergences that were not considered previously in domain-adversarial learning.

While deep neural networks provide good performance for a range of challenging tasks, calibration and uncertainty estimation remain major challenges, especially under distribution shift. In this paper, we propose the amortized conditional normalized maximum likelihood (ACNML) method as a scalable general-purpose approach for uncertainty estimation, calibration, and out-of-distribution robustness with deep networks. Our algorithm builds on the conditional normalized maximum likelihood (CNML) coding scheme, which has minimax optimal properties according to the minimum description length principle, but is computationally intractable to evaluate exactly for all but the simplest of model classes. We propose to use approximate Bayesian inference technqiues to produce a tractable approximation to the CNML distribution. Our approach can be combined with any approximate inference algorithm that provides tractable posterior densities over model parameters. We demonstrate that ACNML compares favorably to a number of prior techniques for uncertainty estimation in terms of calibration when faced with distribution shift.

Learning sensorimotor control policies from high-dimensional images crucially relies on the quality of the underlying visual representations. Prior works show that structured latent space such as visual keypoints often outperforms unstructured representations for robotic control. However, most of these representations, whether structured or unstructured are learned in a 2D space even though the control tasks are usually performed in a 3D environment. In this work, we propose a framework to learn such a 3D geometric structure directly from images in an end-to-end unsupervised manner. The input images are embedded into latent 3D keypoints via a differentiable encoder which is trained to optimize both a multi-view consistency loss and downstream task objective. These discovered 3D keypoints tend to meaningfully capture robot joints as well as object movements in a consistent manner across both time and 3D space. The proposed approach outperforms prior state-of-art methods across a variety of reinforcement learning benchmarks. Code and videos at https://buoyancy99.github.io/unsup-3d-keypoints/.

We consider a general statistical estimation problem wherein binary labels across different observations are not independent conditioning on their feature vectors, but dependent, capturing settings where e.g. these observations are collected on a spatial domain, a temporal domain, or a social network, which induce dependencies. We model these dependencies in the language of Markov Random Fields and, importantly, allow these dependencies to be substantial, i.e. do not assume that the Markov Random Field capturing these dependencies is in high temperature. As our main contribution we provide algorithms and statistically efficient estimation rates for this model, giving several instantiations of our bounds in logistic regression, sparse logistic regression, and neural network regression settings with dependent data. Our estimation guarantees follow from novel results for estimating the parameters (i.e. external fields and interaction strengths) of Ising models from a single sample.

This paper bridges discrete and continuous optimization approaches for decomposable submodular function minimization, in both the standard and parametric settings. We provide improved running times for this problem by reducing it to a number of calls to a maximum flow oracle. When each function in the decomposition acts on O(1) elements of the ground set V and is polynomially bounded, our running time is up to polylogarithmic factors equal to that of solving maximum flow in a sparse graph with O(|V|) vertices and polynomial integral capacities. We achieve this by providing a simple iterative method which can optimize to high precision any convex function defined on the submodular base polytope, provided we can efficiently minimize it on the base polytope corresponding to the cut function of a certain graph that we construct. We solve this minimization problem by lifting the solutions of a parametric cut problem, which we obtain via a new efficient combinatorial reduction to maximum flow. This reduction is of independent interest and implies some previously unknown bounds for the parametric minimum s,t-cut problem in multiple settings.

Datacenter vision systems widely use small, specialized convolutional neural networks (CNNs) trained on specific tasks for high-throughput inference. These settings employ accelerators with massive computational capacity, but which specialized CNNs underutilize due to having low arithmetic intensity. This results in suboptimal application-level throughput and poor returns on accelerator investment. Increasing batch size is the only known way to increase both application-level throughput and accelerator utilization for inference, but yields diminishing returns; specialized CNNs poorly utilize accelerators even with large batch size. We propose FoldedCNNs, a new approach to CNN design that increases inference throughput and utilization beyond large batch size. FoldedCNNs rethink the structure of inputs and layers of specialized CNNs to boost arithmetic intensity: in FoldedCNNs, f images with C channels each are concatenated into a single input with fC channels and jointly classified by a wider CNN. Increased arithmetic intensity in FoldedCNNs increases the throughput and GPU utilization of specialized CNN inference by up to 2.5x and 2.8x, with accuracy close to the original CNN in most cases.

Reconstructing continuous surfaces from 3D point clouds is a fundamental operation in 3D geometry processing. Several recent state-of-the-art methods address this problem using neural networks to learn signed distance functions (SDFs). In this paper, we introduce Neural-Pull, a new approach that is simple and leads to high quality SDFs. Specifically, we train a neural network to pull query 3D locations to their closest points on the surface using the predicted signed distance values and the gradient at the query locations, both of which are computed by the network itself. The pulling operation moves each query location with a stride given by the distance predicted by the network. Based on the sign of the distance, this may move the query location along or against the direction of the gradient of the SDF. This is a differentiable operation that allows us to update the signed distance value and the gradient simultaneously during training. Our outperforming results under widely used benchmarks demonstrate that we can learn SDFs more accurately and flexibly for surface reconstruction and single image reconstruction than the state-of-the-art methods. Our code and data are available at https://github.com/mabaorui/NeuralPull.

A fundamental challenge in multiagent reinforcement learning is to learn beneficial behaviors in a shared environment with other simultaneously learning agents. In particular, each agent perceives the environment as effectively non-stationary due to the changing policies of other agents. Moreover, each agent is itself constantly learning, leading to natural non-stationarity in the distribution of experiences encountered. In this paper, we propose a novel meta-multiagent policy gradient theorem that directly accounts for the non-stationary policy dynamics inherent to multiagent learning settings. This is achieved by modeling our gradient updates to consider both an agent’s own non-stationary policy dynamics and the non-stationary policy dynamics of other agents in the environment. We show that our theoretically grounded approach provides a general solution to the multiagent learning problem, which inherently comprises all key aspects of previous state of the art approaches on this topic. We test our method on a diverse suite of multiagent benchmarks and demonstrate a more efficient ability to adapt to new agents as they learn than baseline methods across the full spectrum of mixed incentive, competitive, and cooperative domains.

Consider a prosthetic arm, learning to adapt to its user's control signals. We propose \emph{Interaction-Grounded Learning} for this novel setting, in which a learner's goal is to interact with the environment with no grounding or explicit reward to optimize its policies. Such a problem evades common RL solutions which require an explicit reward. The learning agent observes a multidimensional \emph{context vector}, takes an \emph{action}, and then observes a multidimensional \emph{feedback vector}. This multidimensional feedback vector has \emph{no} explicit reward information. In order to succeed, the algorithm must learn how to evaluate the feedback vector to discover a latent reward signal, with which it can ground its policies without supervision. We show that in an Interaction-Grounded Learning setting, with certain natural assumptions, a learner can discover the latent reward and ground its policy for successful interaction. We provide theoretical guarantees and a proof-of-concept empirical evaluation to demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed approach.

Most of existing statistical theories on deep neural networks have sample complexities cursed by the data dimension and therefore cannot well explain the empirical success of deep learning on high-dimensional data. To bridge this gap, we propose to exploit the low-dimensional structures of the real world datasets and establish theoretical guarantees of convolutional residual networks (ConvResNet) in terms of function approximation and statistical recovery for binary classification problem. Specifically, given the data lying on a $d$-dimensional manifold isometrically embedded in $\mathbb{R}^D$, we prove that if the network architecture is properly chosen, ConvResNets can (1) approximate {\it Besov functions} on manifolds with arbitrary accuracy, and (2) learn a classifier by minimizing the empirical logistic risk, which gives an {\it excess risk} in the order of $n^{-\frac{s}{2s+2(s\vee d)}}$, where $s$ is a smoothness parameter. This implies that the sample complexity depends on the intrinsic dimension $d$, instead of the data dimension $D$. Our results demonstrate that ConvResNets are adaptive to low-dimensional structures of data sets.

The great success of modern machine learning models on large datasets is contingent on extensive computational resources with high financial and environmental costs. One way to address this is by extracting subsets that generalize on par with the full data. In this work, we propose a general framework, GRAD-MATCH, which finds subsets that closely match the gradient of the \emph{training or validation} set. We find such subsets effectively using an orthogonal matching pursuit algorithm. We show rigorous theoretical and convergence guarantees of the proposed algorithm and, through our extensive experiments on real-world datasets, show the effectiveness of our proposed framework. We show that GRAD-MATCH significantly and consistently outperforms several recent data-selection algorithms and achieves the best accuracy-efficiency trade-off. GRAD-MATCH is available as a part of the CORDS toolkit: \url{https://github.com/decile-team/cords}.

Contrastive learning has recently seen tremendous success in self-supervised learning. So far, however, it is largely unclear why the learned representations generalize so effectively to a large variety of downstream tasks. We here prove that feedforward models trained with objectives belonging to the commonly used InfoNCE family learn to implicitly invert the underlying generative model of the observed data. While the proofs make certain statistical assumptions about the generative model, we observe empirically that our findings hold even if these assumptions are severely violated. Our theory highlights a fundamental connection between contrastive learning, generative modeling, and nonlinear independent component analysis, thereby furthering our understanding of the learned representations as well as providing a theoretical foundation to derive more effective contrastive losses.

We provide a unifying view of a large family of previous imitation learning algorithms through the lens of moment matching. At its core, our classification scheme is based on whether the learner attempts to match (1) reward or (2) action-value moments of the expert's behavior, with each option leading to differing algorithmic approaches. By considering adversarially chosen divergences between learner and expert behavior, we are able to derive bounds on policy performance that apply for all algorithms in each of these classes, the first to our knowledge. We also introduce the notion of moment recoverability, implicit in many previous analyses of imitation learning, which allows us to cleanly delineate how well each algorithmic family is able to mitigate compounding errors. We derive three novel algorithm templates (AdVIL, AdRIL, and DAeQuIL) with strong guarantees, simple implementation, and competitive empirical performance.

Descent methods for deep networks are notoriously capricious: they require careful tuning of step size, momentum and weight decay, and which method will work best on a new benchmark is a priori unclear. To address this problem, this paper conducts a combined study of neural architecture and optimisation, leading to a new optimiser called Nero: the neuronal rotator. Nero trains reliably without momentum or weight decay, works in situations where Adam and SGD fail, and requires little to no learning rate tuning. Also, Nero's memory footprint is ~ square root that of Adam or LAMB. Nero combines two ideas: (1) projected gradient descent over the space of balanced networks; (2) neuron-specific updates, where the step size sets the angle through which each neuron's hyperplane turns. The paper concludes by discussing how this geometric connection between architecture and optimisation may impact theories of generalisation in deep learning.

Realistic environments often provide agents with very limited feedback. When the environment is initially unknown, the feedback, in the beginning, can be completely absent, and the agents may first choose to devote all their effort on \emph{exploring efficiently.} The exploration remains a challenge while it has been addressed with many hand-tuned heuristics with different levels of generality on one side, and a few theoretically-backed exploration strategies on the other. Many of them are incarnated by \emph{intrinsic motivation} and in particular \emph{explorations bonuses}. A common choice is to use $1/\sqrt{n}$ bonus, where $n$ is a number of times this particular state-action pair was visited. We show that, surprisingly, for a pure-exploration objective of \emph{reward-free exploration}, bonuses that scale with $1/n$ bring faster learning rates, improving the known upper bounds with respect to the dependence on the horizon $H$. Furthermore, we show that with an improved analysis of the stopping time, we can improve by a factor $H$ the sample complexity in the \emph{best-policy identification} setting, which is another pure-exploration objective, where the environment provides rewards but the agent is not penalized for its behavior during the exploration phase.

We address the problem of teaching a deep reinforcement learning (RL) agent to follow instructions in multi-task environments. Instructions are expressed in a well-known formal language – linear temporal logic (LTL) – and can specify a diversity of complex, temporally extended behaviours, including conditionals and alternative realizations. Our proposed learning approach exploits the compositional syntax and the semantics of LTL, enabling our RL agent to learn task-conditioned policies that generalize to new instructions, not observed during training. To reduce the overhead of learning LTL semantics, we introduce an environment-agnostic LTL pretraining scheme which improves sample-efficiency in downstream environments. Experiments on discrete and continuous domains target combinatorial task sets of up to $\sim10^{39}$ unique tasks and demonstrate the strength of our approach in learning to solve (unseen) tasks, given LTL instructions.