The Ubuntu Dialogue Corpus: A Large Dataset for Research in Unstructured Multi-Turn Dialogue Systems Artificial Intelligence

This paper introduces the Ubuntu Dialogue Corpus, a dataset containing almost 1 million multi-turn dialogues, with a total of over 7 million utterances and 100 million words. This provides a unique resource for research into building dialogue managers based on neural language models that can make use of large amounts of unlabeled data. The dataset has both the multi-turn property of conversations in the Dialog State Tracking Challenge datasets, and the unstructured nature of interactions from microblog services such as Twitter. We also describe two neural learning architectures suitable for analyzing this dataset, and provide benchmark performance on the task of selecting the best next response.

A Hierarchical Spectral Method for Extreme Classification Machine Learning

Extreme classification problems are multiclass and multilabel classification problems where the number of outputs is so large that straightforward strategies are neither statistically nor computationally viable. One strategy for dealing with the computational burden is via a tree decomposition of the output space. While this typically leads to training and inference that scales sublinearly with the number of outputs, it also results in reduced statistical performance. In this work, we identify two shortcomings of tree decomposition methods, and describe two heuristic mitigations. We compose these with an eigenvalue technique for constructing the tree. The end result is a computationally efficient algorithm that provides good statistical performance on several extreme data sets.

Do Cascades Recur? Machine Learning

Cascades of information-sharing are a primary mechanism by which content reaches its audience on social media, and an active line of research has studied how such cascades, which form as content is reshared from person to person, develop and subside. In this paper, we perform a large-scale analysis of cascades on Facebook over significantly longer time scales, and find that a more complex picture emerges, in which many large cascades recur, exhibiting multiple bursts of popularity with periods of quiescence in between. We characterize recurrence by measuring the time elapsed between bursts, their overlap and proximity in the social network, and the diversity in the demographics of individuals participating in each peak. We discover that content virality, as revealed by its initial popularity, is a main driver of recurrence, with the availability of multiple copies of that content helping to spark new bursts. Still, beyond a certain popularity of content, the rate of recurrence drops as cascades start exhausting the population of interested individuals. We reproduce these observed patterns in a simple model of content recurrence simulated on a real social network. Using only characteristics of a cascade's initial burst, we demonstrate strong performance in predicting whether it will recur in the future.

Statistical Inference, Learning and Models in Big Data Machine Learning

The need for new methods to deal with big data is a common theme in most scientific fields, although its definition tends to vary with the context. Statistical ideas are an essential part of this, and as a partial response, a thematic program on statistical inference, learning, and models in big data was held in 2015 in Canada, under the general direction of the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute, with major funding from, and most activities located at, the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences. This paper gives an overview of the topics covered, describing challenges and strategies that seem common to many different areas of application, and including some examples of applications to make these challenges and strategies more concrete.

Font Identification in Historical Documents Using Active Learning Machine Learning

Identifying the type of font (e.g., Roman, Blackletter) used in historical documents can help optical character recognition (OCR) systems produce more accurate text transcriptions. Towards this end, we present an active-learning strategy that can significantly reduce the number of labeled samples needed to train a font classifier. Our approach extracts image-based features that exploit geometric differences between fonts at the word level, and combines them into a bag-of-word representation for each page in a document. We evaluate six sampling strategies based on uncertainty, dissimilarity and diversity criteria, and test them on a database containing over 3,000 historical documents with Blackletter, Roman and Mixed fonts. Our results show that a combination of uncertainty and diversity achieves the highest predictive accuracy (89% of test cases correctly classified) while requiring only a small fraction of the data (17%) to be labeled. We discuss the implications of this result for mass digitization projects of historical documents.

Community detection in multi-relational data with restricted multi-layer stochastic blockmodel Machine Learning

In recent years there has been an increased interest in statistical analysis of data with multiple types of relations among a set of entities. Such multi-relational data can be represented as multi-layer graphs where the set of vertices represents the entities and multiple types of edges represent the different relations among them. For community detection in multi-layer graphs, we consider two random graph models, the multi-layer stochastic blockmodel (MLSBM) and a model with a restricted parameter space, the restricted multi-layer stochastic blockmodel (RMLSBM). We derive consistency results for community assignments of the maximum likelihood estimators (MLEs) in both models where MLSBM is assumed to be the true model, and either the number of nodes or the number of types of edges or both grow. We compare MLEs in the two models with other baseline approaches, such as separate modeling of layers, aggregating the layers and majority voting. RMLSBM is shown to have advantage over MLSBM when either the growth rate of the number of communities is high or the growth rate of the average degree of the component graphs in the multi-graph is low. We also derive minimax rates of error and sharp thresholds for achieving consistency of community detection in both models, which are then used to compare the multi-layer models with a baseline model, the aggregate stochastic block model. The simulation studies and real data applications confirm the superior performance of the multi-layer approaches in comparison to the baseline procedures.

Online Prediction of Dyadic Data with Heterogeneous Matrix Factorization Machine Learning

Dyadic Data Prediction (DDP) is an important problem in many research areas. This paper develops a novel fully Bayesian nonparametric framework which integrates two popular and complementary approaches, discrete mixed membership modeling and continuous latent factor modeling into a unified Heterogeneous Matrix Factorization~(HeMF) model, which can predict the unobserved dyadics accurately. The HeMF can determine the number of communities automatically and exploit the latent linear structure for each bicluster efficiently. We propose a Variational Bayesian method to estimate the parameters and missing data. We further develop a novel online learning approach for Variational inference and use it for the online learning of HeMF, which can efficiently cope with the important large-scale DDP problem. We evaluate the performance of our method on the EachMoive, MovieLens and Netflix Prize collaborative filtering datasets. The experiment shows that, our model outperforms state-of-the-art methods on all benchmarks. Compared with Stochastic Gradient Method (SGD), our online learning approach achieves significant improvement on the estimation accuracy and robustness.

Regret Guarantees for Item-Item Collaborative Filtering Machine Learning

There is much empirical evidence that item-item collaborative filtering works well in practice. Motivated to understand this, we provide a framework to design and analyze various recommendation algorithms. The setup amounts to online binary matrix completion, where at each time a random user requests a recommendation and the algorithm chooses an entry to reveal in the user's row. The goal is to minimize regret, or equivalently to maximize the number of +1 entries revealed at any time. We analyze an item-item collaborative filtering algorithm that can achieve fundamentally better performance compared to user-user collaborative filtering. The algorithm achieves good "cold-start" performance (appropriately defined) by quickly making good recommendations to new users about whom there is little information.

Automatic Description Generation from Images: A Survey of Models, Datasets, and Evaluation Measures

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Automatic description generation from natural images is a challenging problem that has recently received a large amount of interest from the computer vision and natural language processing communities. In this survey, we classify the existing approaches based on how they conceptualize this problem, viz., models that cast description as either generation problem or as a retrieval problem over a visual or multimodal representational space. We provide a detailed review of existing models, highlighting their advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, we give an overview of the benchmark image datasets and the evaluation measures that have been developed to assess the quality of machine-generated image descriptions. Finally we extrapolate future directions in the area of automatic image description generation.

Adaptive Contract Design for Crowdsourcing Markets: Bandit Algorithms for Repeated Principal-Agent Problems

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Crowdsourcing markets have emerged as a popular platform for matching available workers with tasks to complete. The payment for a particular task is typically set by the task's requester, and may be adjusted based on the quality of the completed work, for example, through the use of "bonus" payments. In this paper, we study the requester's problem of dynamically adjusting quality-contingent payments for tasks. We consider a multi-round version of the well-known principal-agent model, whereby in each round a worker makes a strategic choice of the effort level which is not directly observable by the requester. In particular, our formulation significantly generalizes the budget-free online task pricing problems studied in prior work. We treat this problem as a multi-armed bandit problem, with each "arm" representing a potential contract. To cope with the large (and in fact, infinite) number of arms, we propose a new algorithm, AgnosticZooming, which discretizes the contract space into a finite number of regions, effectively treating each region as a single arm. This discretization is adaptively refined, so that more promising regions of the contract space are eventually discretized more finely. We analyze this algorithm, showing that it achieves regret sublinear in the time horizon and substantially improves over non-adaptive discretization (which is the only competing approach in the literature). Our results advance the state of art on several different topics: the theory of crowdsourcing markets, principal-agent problems, multi-armed bandits, and dynamic pricing.