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Variational Bayes In Private Settings (VIPS)

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

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.


Bridging the Gap Between Probabilistic Model Checking and Probabilistic Planning: Survey, Compilations, and Empirical Comparison

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Markov decision processes are of major interest in the planning community as well as in the model checking community. But in spite of the similarity in the considered formal models, the development of new techniques and methods happened largely independently in both communities. This work is intended as a beginning to unite the two research branches. We consider goal-reachability analysis as a common basis between both communities. The core of this paper is the translation from Jani, an overarching input language for quantitative model checkers, into the probabilistic planning domain definition language (PPDDL), and vice versa from PPDDL into Jani. These translations allow the creation of an overarching benchmark collection, including existing case studies from the model checking community, as well as benchmarks from the international probabilistic planning competitions (IPPC). We use this benchmark set as a basis for an extensive empirical comparison of various approaches from the model checking community, variants of value iteration, and MDP heuristic search algorithms developed by the AI planning community. On a per benchmark domain basis, techniques from one community can achieve state-ofthe-art performance in benchmarks of the other community. Across all benchmark domains of one community, the performance comparison is however in favor of the solvers and algorithms of that particular community. Reasons are the design of the benchmarks, as well as tool-related limitations. Our translation methods and benchmark collection foster crossfertilization between both communities, pointing out specific opportunities for widening the scope of solvers to different kinds of models, as well as for exchanging and adopting algorithms across communities.


Sum-product networks: A survey

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

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


Kernel autocovariance operators of stationary processes: Estimation and convergence

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We consider autocovariance operators of a stationary stochastic process on a Polish space that is embedded into a reproducing kernel Hilbert space. We investigate how empirical estimates of these operators converge along realizations of the process under various conditions. In particular, we examine ergodic and strongly mixing processes and prove several asymptotic results as well as finite sample error bounds with a detailed analysis for the Gaussian kernel. We provide applications of our theory in terms of consistency results for kernel PCA with dependent data and the conditional mean embedding of transition probabilities. Finally, we use our approach to examine the nonparametric estimation of Markov transition operators and highlight how our theory can give a consistency analysis for a large family of spectral analysis methods including kernel-based dynamic mode decomposition.


SUMO: Unbiased Estimation of Log Marginal Probability for Latent Variable Models

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Standard variational lower bounds used to train latent variable models produce biased estimates of most quantities of interest. We introduce an unbiased estimator of the log marginal likelihood and its gradients for latent variable models based on randomized truncation of infinite series. If parameterized by an encoder-decoder architecture, the parameters of the encoder can be optimized to minimize its variance of this estimator. We show that models trained using our estimator give better test-set likelihoods than a standard importance-sampling based approach for the same average computational cost. This estimator also allows use of latent variable models for tasks where unbiased estimators, rather than marginal likelihood lower bounds, are preferred, such as minimizing reverse KL divergences and estimating score functions.


Inference with Aggregate Data: An Optimal Transport Approach

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We consider inference problems over probabilistic graphical models with aggregate data. In particular, we propose a new efficient belief propagation type algorithm over tree-structured graphs with polynomial computational complexity as well as a global convergence guarantee. This is in contrast to previous methods that either exhibit prohibitive complexity as the population grows or do not guarantee convergence. Our method is based on optimal transport, or more specifically, multi-marginal optimal transport theory. In particular, the inference problem with aggregate observations we consider in this paper can be seen as a structured multi-marginal optimal transport problem, where the cost function decomposes according to the underlying graph. Consequently, the celebrated Sinkhorn algorithm for multi-marginal optimal transport can be leveraged, together with the standard belief propagation algorithm to establish an efficient inference scheme. We demonstrate the performance of our algorithm on applications such as inferring population flow from aggregate observations.


From Statistical Relational to Neuro-Symbolic Artificial Intelligence

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

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.


Parameter elimination in particle Gibbs sampling

Neural Information Processing Systems

Bayesian inference in state-space models is challenging due to high-dimensional state trajectories. A viable approach is particle Markov chain Monte Carlo (PMCMC), combining MCMC and sequential Monte Carlo to form exact approximations'' to otherwise-intractable MCMC methods. The performance of the approximation is limited to that of the exact method. We focus on particle Gibbs (PG) and particle Gibbs with ancestor sampling (PGAS), improving their performance beyond that of the ideal Gibbs sampler (which they approximate) by marginalizing out one or more parameters. This is possible when the parameter(s) has a conjugate prior relationship with the complete data likelihood.


Anchor & Transform: Learning Sparse Representations of Discrete Objects

arXiv.org Machine Learning

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.


Curriculum Learning for Reinforcement Learning Domains: A Framework and Survey

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Reinforcement learning (RL) is a popular paradigm for addressing sequential decision tasks in which the agent has only limited environmental feedback. Despite many advances over the past three decades, learning in many domains still requires a large amount of interaction with the environment, which can be prohibitively expensive in realistic scenarios. To address this problem, transfer learning has been applied to reinforcement learning such that experience gained in one task can be leveraged when starting to learn the next, harder task. More recently, several lines of research have explored how tasks, or data samples themselves, can be sequenced into a curriculum for the purpose of learning a problem that may otherwise be too difficult to learn from scratch. In this article, we present a framework for curriculum learning (CL) in reinforcement learning, and use it to survey and classify existing CL methods in terms of their assumptions, capabilities, and goals. Finally, we use our framework to find open problems and suggest directions for future RL curriculum learning research.