Chris Mattmann is the Deputy Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, where he has been recognised as JPL's first Principal Scientist in the area of Data Science. Chris has applied TensorFlow to challenges he's faced at NASA, including building an implementation of Google's Show & Tell algorithm for image captioning using TensorFlow. He was involved in the Mars rover landing mission, where he was working in a planetary data system engineering node, helping to build a data management framework called object-oriented data technology to support capturing, processing and sharing of data for NASA's scientific archives. He contributes to open source as a former Director at the Apache Software Foundation, and teaches graduate courses at USC in Content Detection and Analysis, and in Search Engines and Information Retrieval. In this episode, Chris opens the show discussing his interest in data.
Many applications of Bayesian data analysis involve sensitive information such as personal documents or medical records, motivating methods which ensure that privacy is protected. We introduce a general privacy-preserving framework for Variational Bayes (VB), a widely used optimization-based Bayesian inference method. Our framework respects differential privacy, the gold-standard privacy criterion, and encompasses a large class of probabilistic models, called the Conjugate Exponential (CE) family. We observe that we can straightforwardly privatise VB's approximate posterior distributions for models in the CE family, by perturbing the expected sufficient statistics of the complete-data likelihood. For a broadly-used class of non-CE models, those with binomial likelihoods, we show how to bring such models into the CE family, such that inferences in the modified model resemble the private variational Bayes algorithm as closely as possible, using the Pólya-Gamma data augmentation scheme. The iterative nature of variational Bayes presents a further challenge since iterations increase the amount of noise needed. We overcome this by combining: (1) an improved composition method for differential privacy, called the moments accountant, which provides a tight bound on the privacy cost of multiple VB iterations and thus significantly decreases the amount of additive noise; and (2) the privacy amplification effect of subsampling mini-batches from large-scale data in stochastic learning. We empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of our method in CE and non-CE models including latent Dirichlet allocation, Bayesian logistic regression, and sigmoid belief networks, evaluated on real-world datasets.
This work presents a modular and hierarchical approach to learn policies for exploring 3D environments, called `Active Neural SLAM'. Our approach leverages the strengths of both classical and learning-based methods, by using analytical path planners with learned SLAM module, and global and local policies. The use of learning provides flexibility with respect to input modalities (in the SLAM module), leverages structural regularities of the world (in global policies), and provides robustness to errors in state estimation (in local policies). Such use of learning within each module retains its benefits, while at the same time, hierarchical decomposition and modular training allow us to sidestep the high sample complexities associated with training end-to-end policies. Our experiments in visually and physically realistic simulated 3D environments demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach over past learning and geometry-based approaches. The proposed model can also be easily transferred to the PointGoal task and was the winning entry of the CVPR 2019 Habitat PointGoal Navigation Challenge.
We propose learning discrete structured representations from unlabeled data by maximizing the mutual information between a structured latent variable and a target variable. Calculating mutual information is intractable in this setting. Our key technical contribution is an adversarial objective that can be used to tractably estimate mutual information assuming only the feasibility of cross entropy calculation. We develop a concrete realization of this general formulation with Markov distributions over binary encodings. We report critical and unexpected findings on practical aspects of the objective such as the choice of variational priors. We apply our model on document hashing and show that it outperforms current best baselines based on discrete and vector quantized variational autoencoders. It also yields highly compressed interpretable representations.
Reinforcement-based training methods have emerged as the most popular choice to train an efficient and effective dialog policy. However, these methods are suffering from sparse and unstable reward signals usually returned from the user simulator at the end of the dialog. Besides, the reward signal is manually designed by human experts which requires domain knowledge. A number of adversarial learning methods have been proposed to learn the reward function together with the dialog policy. However, to alternatively update the dialog policy and the reward model on the fly, the algorithms to update the dialog policy are limited to policy gradient-based algorithms, such as REINFORCE and PPO. Besides, the alternative training of the dialog agent and the reward model can easily get stuck in local optimum or result in mode collapse. In this work, we propose to decompose the previous adversarial training into two different steps. We first train the discriminator with an auxiliary dialog generator and then incorporate this trained reward model to a common reinforcement learning method to train a high-quality dialog agent. This approach is applicable to both on-policy and off-policy reinforcement learning methods. By conducting several experiments, we show the proposed methods can achieve remarkable task success and its potential to transfer knowledge from existing domains to a new domain.
A sum-product network (SPN) is a probabilistic model, based on a rooted acyclic directed graph, in which terminal nodes represent univariate probability distributions and non-terminal nodes represent convex combinations (weighted sums) and products of probability functions. They are closely related to probabilistic graphical models, in particular to Bayesian networks with multiple context-specific independencies. Their main advantage is the possibility of building tractable models from data, i.e., models that can perform several inference tasks in time proportional to the number of links in the graph. They are somewhat similar to neural networks and can address the same kinds of problems, such as image processing and natural language understanding. This paper offers a survey of SPNs, including their definition, the main algorithms for inference and learning from data, the main applications, a brief review of software libraries, and a comparison with related models
Neuro-symbolic and statistical relational artificial intelligence both integrate frameworks for learning with logical reasoning. This survey identifies several parallels across seven different dimensions between these two fields. These cannot only be used to characterize and position neuro-symbolic artificial intelligence approaches but also to identify a number of directions for further research.
Learning continuous representations of discrete objects such as text, users, and URLs lies at the heart of many applications including language and user modeling. When using discrete objects as input to neural networks, we often ignore the underlying structures (e.g. natural groupings and similarities) and embed the objects independently into individual vectors. As a result, existing methods do not scale to large vocabulary sizes. In this paper, we design a Bayesian nonparametric prior for embeddings that encourages sparsity and leverages natural groupings among objects. We derive an approximate inference algorithm based on Small Variance Asymptotics which yields a simple and natural algorithm for learning a small set of anchor embeddings and a sparse transformation matrix. We call our method Anchor & Transform (ANT) as the embeddings of discrete objects are a sparse linear combination of the anchors, weighted according to the transformation matrix. ANT is scalable, flexible, end-to-end trainable, and allows the user to incorporate domain knowledge about object relationships. On text classification and language modeling benchmarks, ANT demonstrates stronger performance with fewer parameters as compared to existing compression baselines.
Providing explanations of chosen robotic actions can help to increase the transparency of robotic planning and improve users' trust. Social sciences suggest that the best explanations are contrastive, explaining not just why one action is taken, but why one action is taken instead of another. We formalize the notion of contrastive explanations for robotic planning policies based on Markov decision processes, drawing on insights from the social sciences. We present methods for the automated generation of contrastive explanations with three key factors: selectiveness, constrictiveness, and responsibility. The results of a user study with 100 participants on the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform show that our generated contrastive explanations can help to increase users' understanding and trust of robotic planning policies while reducing users' cognitive burden.
Large-scale natural language understanding (NLU) systems have made impressive progress: they can be applied flexibly across a variety of tasks, and employ minimal structural assumptions. However, extensive empirical research has shown this to be a double-edged sword, coming at the cost of shallow understanding: inferior generalization, grounding and explainability. Grounded language learning approaches offer the promise of deeper understanding by situating learning in richer, more structured training environments, but are limited in scale to relatively narrow, predefined domains. How might we enjoy the best of both worlds: grounded, general NLU? Following extensive contemporary cognitive science, we propose treating environments as ``first-class citizens'' in semantic representations, worthy of research and development in their own right. Importantly, models should also be partners in the creation and configuration of environments, rather than just actors within them, as in existing approaches. To do so, we argue that models must begin to understand and program in the language of affordances (which define possible actions in a given situation) both for online, situated discourse comprehension, as well as large-scale, offline common-sense knowledge mining. To this end we propose an environment-oriented ecological semantics, outlining theoretical and practical approaches towards implementation. We further provide actual demonstrations building upon interactive fiction programming languages.