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Binary neural networks (BNNs) represent original full-precision weights and activations into 1-bit with sign function. Since the gradient of the conventional sign function is almost zero everywhere which cannot be used for back-propagation, several attempts have been proposed to alleviate the optimization difficulty by using approximate gradient. However, those approximations corrupt the main direction of factual gradient. To this end, we propose to estimate the gradient of sign function in the Fourier frequency domain using the combination of sine functions for training BNNs, namely frequency domain approximation (FDA). The proposed approach does not affect the low-frequency information of the original sign function which occupies most of the overall energy, and high-frequency coefficients will be ignored to avoid the huge computational overhead. In addition, we embed a noise adaptation module into the training phase to compensate the approximation error. The experiments on several benchmark datasets and neural architectures illustrate that the binary network learned using our method achieves the state-of-the-art accuracy. Code will be available at https://gitee.com/mindspore/models/tree/master/research/cv/FDA-BNN.

"Monkey see monkey do" is an age-old adage, referring to naive imitation without a deep understanding of a system's underlying mechanics. Indeed, if a demonstrator has access to information unavailable to the imitator (monkey), such as a different set of sensors, then no matter how perfectly the imitator models its perceived environment (See), attempting to directly reproduce the demonstrator's behavior (Do) can lead to poor outcomes. Imitation learning in the presence of a mismatch between demonstrator and imitator has been studied in the literature under the rubric of causal imitation learning (Zhang et. al. 2020), but existing solutions are limited to single-stage decision-making. This paper investigates the problem of causal imitation learning in sequential settings, where the imitator must make multiple decisions per episode. We develop a graphical criterion that is both necessary and sufficient for determining the feasibility of causal imitation, providing conditions when an imitator can match a demonstrator's performance despite differing capabilities. Finally, we provide an efficient algorithm for determining imitability, and corroborate our theory with simulations.

Causal effect identification is concerned with determining whether a causal effect is computable from a combination of qualitative assumptions about the underlying system (e.g., a causal graph) and distributions collected from this system. Many identification algorithms exclusively rely on graphical criteria made of a non-trivial combination of probability axioms, do-calculus, and refined c-factorization (e.g., Lee & Bareinboim, 2020). In a sequence of increasingly sophisticated results, it has been shown how proxy variables can be used to identify certain effects that would not be otherwise recoverable in challenging scenarios through solving matrix equations (e.g., Kuroki & Pearl, 2014; Miao et al., 2018). In this paper, we develop a new causal identification algorithm which utilizes both graphical criteria and matrix equations. Specifically, we first characterize the relationships between certain graphically-driven formulae and matrix multiplications. With such characterizations, we broaden the spectrum of proxy variable based identification conditions and further propose novel intermediary criteria based on the pseudoinverse of a matrix. Finally, we devise a causal effect identification algorithm, which accepts as input a collection of marginal, conditional, and interventional distributions, integrating enriched matrix-based criteria into a graphical identification approach.

Reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms assume that users specify tasks by manually writing down a reward function. However, this process can be laborious and demands considerable technical expertise. Can we devise RL algorithms that instead enable users to specify tasks simply by providing examples of successful outcomes? In this paper, we derive a control algorithm that maximizes the future probability of these successful outcome examples. Prior work has approached similar problems with a two-stage process, first learning a reward function and then optimizing this reward function using another reinforcement learning algorithm. In contrast, our method directly learns a value function from transitions and successful outcomes, without learning this intermediate reward function. Our method therefore requires fewer hyperparameters to tune and lines of code to debug. We show that our method satisfies a new data-driven Bellman equation, where examples take the place of the typical reward function term. Experiments show that our approach outperforms prior methods that learn explicit reward functions.

We are interested in learning generative models for complex geometries described via manifolds, such as spheres, tori, and other implicit surfaces. Current extensions of existing (Euclidean) generative models are restricted to specific geometries and typically suffer from high computational costs. We introduce Moser Flow (MF), a new class of generative models within the family of continuous normalizing flows (CNF). MF also produces a CNF via a solution to the change-of-variable formula, however differently from other CNF methods, its model (learned) density is parameterized as the source (prior) density minus the divergence of a neural network (NN). The divergence is a local, linear differential operator, easy to approximate and calculate on manifolds. Therefore, unlike other CNFs, MF does not require invoking or backpropagating through an ODE solver during training. Furthermore, representing the model density explicitly as the divergence of a NN rather than as a solution of an ODE facilitates learning high fidelity densities. Theoretically, we prove that MF constitutes a universal density approximator under suitable assumptions. Empirically, we demonstrate for the first time the use of flow models for sampling from general curved surfaces and achieve significant improvements in density estimation, sample quality, and training complexity over existing CNFs on challenging synthetic geometries and real-world benchmarks from the earth and climate sciences.

The null space of the $k$-th order Laplacian $\mathbf{\mathcal L}_k$, known as the {\em $k$-th homology vector space}, encodes the non-trivial topology of a manifold or a network. Understanding the structure of the homology embedding can thus disclose geometric or topological information from the data. The study of the null space embedding of the graph Laplacian $\mathbf{\mathcal L}_0$ has spurred new research and applications, such as spectral clustering algorithms with theoretical guarantees and estimators of the Stochastic Block Model. In this work, we investigate the geometry of the $k$-th homology embedding and focus on cases reminiscent of spectral clustering. Namely, we analyze the {\em connected sum} of manifolds as a perturbation to the direct sum of their homology embeddings. We propose an algorithm to factorize the homology embedding into subspaces corresponding to a manifold's simplest topological components. The proposed framework is applied to the {\em shortest homologous loop detection} problem, a problem known to be NP-hard in general. Our spectral loop detection algorithm scales better than existing methods and is effective on diverse data such as point clouds and images.

We consider interpolation learning in high-dimensional linear regression with Gaussian data, and prove a generic uniform convergence guarantee on the generalization error of interpolators in an arbitrary hypothesis class in terms of the class’s Gaussian width. Applying the generic bound to Euclidean norm balls recovers the consistency result of Bartlett et al. (2020) for minimum-norm interpolators, and confirms a prediction of Zhou et al. (2020) for near-minimal-norm interpolators in the special case of Gaussian data. We demonstrate the generality of the bound by applying it to the simplex, obtaining a novel consistency result for minimum $\ell_1$-norm interpolators (basis pursuit). Our results show how norm-based generalization bounds can explain and be used to analyze benign overfitting, at least in some settings.

Evidence that visual communication preceded written language and provided a basis for it goes back to prehistory, in forms such as cave and rock paintings depicting traces of our distant ancestors. Emergent communication research has sought to explore how agents can learn to communicate in order to collaboratively solve tasks. Existing research has focused on language, with a learned communication channel transmitting sequences of discrete tokens between the agents. In this work, we explore a visual communication channel between agents that are allowed to draw with simple strokes. Our agents are parameterised by deep neural networks, and the drawing procedure is differentiable, allowing for end-to-end training. In the framework of a referential communication game, we demonstrate that agents can not only successfully learn to communicate by drawing, but with appropriate inductive biases, can do so in a fashion that humans can interpret. We hope to encourage future research to consider visual communication as a more flexible and directly interpretable alternative of training collaborative agents.

The response time of physical computational elements is finite, and neurons are no exception. In hierarchical models of cortical networks each layer thus introduces a response lag. This inherent property of physical dynamical systems results in delayed processing of stimuli and causes a timing mismatch between network output and instructive signals, thus afflicting not only inference, but also learning. We introduce Latent Equilibrium, a new framework for inference and learning in networks of slow components which avoids these issues by harnessing the ability of biological neurons to phase-advance their output with respect to their membrane potential. This principle enables quasi-instantaneous inference independent of network depth and avoids the need for phased plasticity or computationally expensive network relaxation phases. We jointly derive disentangled neuron and synapse dynamics from a prospective energy function that depends on a network's generalized position and momentum. The resulting model can be interpreted as a biologically plausible approximation of error backpropagation in deep cortical networks with continuous-time, leaky neuronal dynamics and continuously active, local plasticity. We demonstrate successful learning of standard benchmark datasets, achieving competitive performance using both fully-connected and convolutional architectures, and show how our principle can be applied to detailed models of cortical microcircuitry. Furthermore, we study the robustness of our model to spatio-temporal substrate imperfections to demonstrate its feasibility for physical realization, be it in vivo or in silico.

We study online convex optimization in the random order model, recently proposed by Garber et al. (2020), where the loss functions may be chosen by an adversary, but are then presented to the online algorithm in a uniformly random order. Focusing on the scenario where the cumulative loss function is (strongly) convex, yet individual loss functions are smooth but might be non-convex, we give algorithms that achieve the optimal bounds and significantly outperform the results of Garber et al. (2020), completely removing the dimension dependence and improve their scaling with respect to the strong convexity parameter. Our analysis relies on novel connections between algorithmic stability and generalization for sampling without-replacement analogous to those studied in the with-replacement i.i.d. setting, as well as on a refined average stability analysis of stochastic gradient descent.

We present a variational method for online state estimation and parameter learning in state-space models (SSMs), a ubiquitous class of latent variable models for sequential data. As per standard batch variational techniques, we use stochastic gradients to simultaneously optimize a lower bound on the log evidence with respect to both model parameters and a variational approximation of the states' posterior distribution. However, unlike existing approaches, our method is able to operate in an entirely online manner, such that historic observations do not require revisitation after being incorporated and the cost of updates at each time step remains constant, despite the growing dimensionality of the joint posterior distribution of the states. This is achieved by utilizing backward decompositions of this joint posterior distribution and of its variational approximation, combined with Bellman-type recursions for the evidence lower bound and its gradients. We demonstrate the performance of this methodology across several examples, including high-dimensional SSMs and sequential Variational Auto-Encoders.

In video transformers, the time dimension is often treated in the same way as the two spatial dimensions. However, in a scene where objects or the camera may move, a physical point imaged at one location in frame $t$ may be entirely unrelated to what is found at that location in frame $t+k$. These temporal correspondences should be modeled to facilitate learning about dynamic scenes. To this end, we propose a new drop-in block for video transformers - trajectory attention - that aggregates information along implicitly determined motion paths. We additionally propose a new method to address the quadratic dependence of computation and memory on the input size, which is particularly important for high resolution or long videos. While these ideas are useful in a range of settings, we apply them to the specific task of video action recognition with a transformer model and obtain state-of-the-art results on the Kinetics, Something-Something V2, and Epic-Kitchens datasets.

We introduce DROID-SLAM, a new deep learning based SLAM system. DROID-SLAM consists of recurrent iterative updates of camera pose and pixelwise depth through a Dense Bundle Adjustment layer. DROID-SLAM is accurate, achieving large improvements over prior work, and robust, suffering from substantially fewer catastrophic failures. Despite training on monocular video, it can leverage stereo or RGB-D video to achieve improved performance at test time. The URL to our open source code is https://github.com/princeton-vl/DROID-SLAM.

We investigate the parameterized complexity of Bayesian Network Structure Learning (BNSL), a classical problem that has received significant attention in empirical but also purely theoretical studies. We follow up on previous works that have analyzed the complexity of BNSL w.r.t. the so-called superstructure of the input. While known results imply that BNSL is unlikely to be fixed-parameter tractable even when parameterized by the size of a vertex cover in the superstructure, here we show that a different kind of parameterization - notably by the size of a feedback edge set - yields fixed-parameter tractability. We proceed by showing that this result can be strengthened to a localized version of the feedback edge set, and provide corresponding lower bounds that complement previous results to provide a complexity classification of BNSL w.r.t. virtually all well-studied graph parameters.We then analyze how the complexity of BNSL depends on the representation of the input. In particular, while the bulk of past theoretical work on the topic assumed the use of the so-called non-zero representation, here we prove that if an additive representation can be used instead then BNSL becomes fixed-parameter tractable even under significantly milder restrictions to the superstructure, notably when parameterized by the treewidth alone. Last but not least, we show how our results can be extended to the closely related problem of Polytree Learning.

Recent works in self-supervised learning have advanced the state-of-the-art by relying on the contrastive learning paradigm, which learns representations by pushing positive pairs, or similar examples from the same class, closer together while keeping negative pairs far apart. Despite the empirical successes, theoretical foundations are limited -- prior analyses assume conditional independence of the positive pairs given the same class label, but recent empirical applications use heavily correlated positive pairs (i.e., data augmentations of the same image). Our work analyzes contrastive learning without assuming conditional independence of positive pairs using a novel concept of the augmentation graph on data. Edges in this graph connect augmentations of the same data, and ground-truth classes naturally form connected sub-graphs. We propose a loss that performs spectral decomposition on the population augmentation graph and can be succinctly written as a contrastive learning objective on neural net representations. Minimizing this objective leads to features with provable accuracy guarantees under linear probe evaluation. By standard generalization bounds, these accuracy guarantees also hold when minimizing the training contrastive loss. In all, this work provides the first provable analysis for contrastive learning where the guarantees can apply to realistic empirical settings.

We observe that despite their hierarchical convolutional nature, the synthesis process of typical generative adversarial networks depends on absolute pixel coordinates in an unhealthy manner. This manifests itself as, e.g., detail appearing to be glued to image coordinates instead of the surfaces of depicted objects. We trace the root cause to careless signal processing that causes aliasing in the generator network. Interpreting all signals in the network as continuous, we derive generally applicable, small architectural changes that guarantee that unwanted information cannot leak into the hierarchical synthesis process. The resulting networks match the FID of StyleGAN2 but differ dramatically in their internal representations, and they are fully equivariant to translation and rotation even at subpixel scales. Our results pave the way for generative models better suited for video and animation.

Quality diversity (QD) is a growing branch of stochastic optimization research that studies the problem of generating an archive of solutions that maximize a given objective function but are also diverse with respect to a set of specified measure functions. However, even when these functions are differentiable, QD algorithms treat them as "black boxes", ignoring gradient information. We present the differentiable quality diversity (DQD) problem, a special case of QD, where both the objective and measure functions are first order differentiable. We then present MAP-Elites via a Gradient Arborescence (MEGA), a DQD algorithm that leverages gradient information to efficiently explore the joint range of the objective and measure functions. Results in two QD benchmark domains and in searching the latent space of a StyleGAN show that MEGA significantly outperforms state-of-the-art QD algorithms, highlighting DQD's promise for efficient quality diversity optimization when gradient information is available. Source code is available at https://github.com/icaros-usc/dqd.

Neural volume rendering became increasingly popular recently due to its success in synthesizing novel views of a scene from a sparse set of input images. So far, the geometry learned by neural volume rendering techniques was modeled using a generic density function. Furthermore, the geometry itself was extracted using an arbitrary level set of the density function leading to a noisy, often low fidelity reconstruction.The goal of this paper is to improve geometry representation and reconstruction in neural volume rendering. We achieve that by modeling the volume density as a function of the geometry. This is in contrast to previous work modeling the geometry as a function of the volume density. In more detail, we define the volume density function as Laplace's cumulative distribution function (CDF) applied to a signed distance function (SDF) representation. This simple density representation has three benefits: (i) it provides a useful inductive bias to the geometry learned in the neural volume rendering process; (ii) it facilitates a bound on the opacity approximation error, leading to an accurate sampling of the viewing ray. Accurate sampling is important to provide a precise coupling of geometry and radiance; and (iii) it allows efficient unsupervised disentanglement of shape and appearance in volume rendering.Applying this new density representation to challenging scene multiview datasets produced high quality geometry reconstructions, outperforming relevant baselines. Furthermore, switching shape and appearance between scenes is possible due to the disentanglement of the two.

Circuit representations are becoming the lingua franca to express and reason about tractable generative and discriminative models. In this paper, we show how complex inference scenarios for these models that commonly arise in machine learning---from computing the expectations of decision tree ensembles to information-theoretic divergences of sum-product networks---can be represented in terms of tractable modular operations over circuits. Specifically, we characterize the tractability of simple transformations---sums, products, quotients, powers, logarithms, and exponentials---in terms of sufficient structural constraints of the circuits they operate on, and present novel hardness results for the cases in which these properties are not satisfied. Building on these operations, we derive a unified framework for reasoning about tractable models that generalizes several results in the literature and opens up novel tractable inference scenarios.

In recent years, neural implicit representations gained popularity in 3D reconstruction due to their expressiveness and flexibility. However, the implicit nature of neural implicit representations results in slow inference times and requires careful initialization. In this paper, we revisit the classic yet ubiquitous point cloud representation and introduce a differentiable point-to-mesh layer using a differentiable formulation of Poisson Surface Reconstruction (PSR) which allows for a GPU-accelerated fast solution of the indicator function given an oriented point cloud. The differentiable PSR layer allows us to efficiently and differentiably bridge the explicit 3D point representation with the 3D mesh via the implicit indicator field, enabling end-to-end optimization of surface reconstruction metrics such as Chamfer distance. This duality between points and meshes hence allows us to represent shapes as oriented point clouds, which are explicit, lightweight and expressive. Compared to neural implicit representations, our Shape-As-Points (SAP) model is more interpretable, lightweight, and accelerates inference time by one order of magnitude. Compared to other explicit representations such as points, patches, and meshes, SAP produces topology-agnostic, watertight manifold surfaces. We demonstrate the effectiveness of SAP on the task of surface reconstruction from unoriented point clouds and learning-based reconstruction.

Classically, data interpolation with a parametrized model class is possible as long as the number of parameters is larger than the number of equations to be satisfied. A puzzling phenomenon in the current practice of deep learning is that models are trained with many more parameters than what this classical theory would suggest. We propose a theoretical explanation for this phenomenon. We prove that for a broad class of data distributions and model classes, overparametrization is {\em necessary} if one wants to interpolate the data {\em smoothly}. Namely we show that {\em smooth} interpolation requires $d$ times more parameters than mere interpolation, where $d$ is the ambient data dimension. We prove this universal law of robustness for any smoothly parametrized function class with polynomial size weights, and any covariate distribution verifying isoperimetry. In the case of two-layers neural networks and Gaussian covariates, this law was conjectured in prior work by Bubeck, Li and Nagaraj. We also give an interpretation of our result as an improved generalization bound for model classes consisting of smooth functions.

We develop methods for forming prediction sets in an online setting where the data generating distribution is allowed to vary over time in an unknown fashion. Our framework builds on ideas from conformal inference to provide a general wrapper that can be combined with any black box method that produces point predictions of the unseen label or estimated quantiles of its distribution. While previous conformal inference methods rely on the assumption that the data are exchangeable, our adaptive approach provably achieves the desired coverage frequency over long-time intervals irrespective of the true data generating process. We accomplish this by modelling the distribution shift as a learning problem in a single parameter whose optimal value is varying over time and must be continuously re-estimated. We test our method, adaptive conformal inference, on two real world datasets and find that its predictions are robust to visible and significant distribution shifts.

The problem of causal inference with panel data is a central econometric question. The following is a fundamental version of this problem: Let $M^*$ be a low rank matrix and $E$ be a zero-mean noise matrix. For a `treatment' matrix $Z$ with entries in $\{0,1\}$ we observe the matrix $O$ with entries $O_{ij} := M^*_{ij} + E_{ij} + \mathcal{T}_{ij} Z_{ij}$ where $\mathcal{T}_{ij} $ are unknown, heterogenous treatment effects. The problem requires we estimate the average treatment effect $\tau^* := \sum_{ij} \mathcal{T}_{ij} Z_{ij} / \sum_{ij} Z_{ij}$. The synthetic control paradigm provides an approach to estimating $\tau^*$ when $Z$ places support on a single row. This paper extends that framework to allow rate-optimal recovery of $\tau^*$ for general $Z$, thus broadly expanding its applicability. Our guarantees are the first of their type in this general setting. Computational experiments on synthetic and real-world data show a substantial advantage over competing estimators.

Image classification models tend to make decisions based on peripheral attributes of data items that have strong correlation with a target variable (i.e., dataset bias). These biased models suffer from the poor generalization capability when evaluated on unbiased datasets. Existing approaches for debiasing often identify and emphasize those samples with no such correlation (i.e., bias-conflicting) without defining the bias type in advance. However, such bias-conflicting samples are significantly scarce in biased datasets, limiting the debiasing capability of these approaches. This paper first presents an empirical analysis revealing that training with "diverse" bias-conflicting samples beyond a given training set is crucial for debiasing as well as the generalization capability. Based on this observation, we propose a novel feature-level data augmentation technique in order to synthesize diverse bias-conflicting samples. To this end, our method learns the disentangled representation of (1) the intrinsic attributes (i.e., those inherently defining a certain class) and (2) bias attributes (i.e., peripheral attributes causing the bias), from a large number of bias-aligned samples, the bias attributes of which have strong correlation with the target variable. Using the disentangled representation, we synthesize bias-conflicting samples that contain the diverse intrinsic attributes of bias-aligned samples by swapping their latent features. By utilizing these diversified bias-conflicting features during the training, our approach achieves superior classification accuracy and debiasing results against the existing baselines on both synthetic and real-world datasets.

We consider non-convex stochastic optimization using first-order algorithms for which the gradient estimates may have heavy tails. We show that a combination of gradient clipping, momentum, and normalized gradient descent yields convergence to critical points in high-probability with best-known rates for smooth losses when the gradients only have bounded $\mathfrak{p}$th moments for some $\mathfrak{p}\in(1,2]$. We then consider the case of second-order smooth losses, which to our knowledge have not been studied in this setting, and again obtain high-probability bounds for any $\mathfrak{p}$. Moreover, our results hold for arbitrary smooth norms, in contrast to the typical SGD analysis which requires a Hilbert space norm. Further, we show that after a suitable "burn-in" period, the objective value will monotonically decrease for every iteration until a critical point is identified, which provides intuition behind the popular practice of learning rate "warm-up'' and also yields a last-iterate guarantee.