Lindgren, Erik M., Dimakis, Alexandros G., Klivans, Adam

Given a graphical model, one essential problem is MAP inference, that is, finding the most likely configuration of states according to the model. Although this problem is NP-hard, large instances can be solved in practice. A major open question is to explain why this is true. We give a natural condition under which we can provably perform MAP inference in polynomial time. We require that the number of fractional vertices in the LP relaxation exceeding the optimal solution is bounded by a polynomial in the problem size. This resolves an open question by Dimakis, Gohari, and Wainwright. In contrast, for general LP relaxations of integer programs, known techniques can only handle a constant number of fractional vertices whose value exceeds the optimal solution. We experimentally verify this condition and demonstrate how efficient various integer programming methods are at removing fractional solutions.

Wu, Yuanbin, Lan, Man, Sun, Shiliang, Zhang, Qi, Huang, Xuanjing

In this work, we try to understand the differences between exact and approximate inference algorithms in structured prediction. We compare the estimation and approximation error of both underestimate (e.g., greedy search) and overestimate (e.g., linear relaxation of integer programming) models. The result shows that, from the perspective of learning errors, performances of approximate inference could be as good as exact inference. The error analyses also suggest a new margin for existing learning algorithms. Empirical evaluations on text classification, sequential labelling and dependency parsing witness the success of approximate inference and the benefit of the proposed margin.

Sontag, David, Meshi, Ofer, Globerson, Amir, Jaakkola, Tommi S.

The problem of learning to predict structured labels is of key importance in many applications. However, for general graph structure both learning and inference in this setting are intractable. Here we show that it is possible to circumvent this difficulty when the input distribution is rich enough via a method similar in spirit to pseudo-likelihood. We show how our new method achieves consistency, and illustrate empirically that it indeed performs as well as exact methods when sufficiently large training sets are used.

Lang, Hunter, Sontag, David, Vijayaraghavan, Aravindan

Approximate algorithms for structured prediction problems---such as LP relaxations and the popular alpha-expansion algorithm (Boykov et al. 2001)---typically far exceed their theoretical performance guarantees on real-world instances. These algorithms often find solutions that are very close to optimal. The goal of this paper is to partially explain the performance of alpha-expansion and an LP relaxation algorithm on MAP inference in Ferromagnetic Potts models (FPMs). Our main results give stability conditions under which these two algorithms provably recover the optimal MAP solution. These theoretical results complement numerous empirical observations of good performance.

Graber, Colin, Meshi, Ofer, Schwing, Alexander

Deep structured models are widely used for tasks like semantic segmentation, where explicit correlations between variables provide important prior information which generally helps to reduce the data needs of deep nets. However, current deep structured models are restricted by oftentimes very local neighborhood structure, which cannot be increased for computational complexity reasons, and by the fact that the output configuration, or a representation thereof, cannot be transformed further. Very recent approaches which address those issues include graphical model inference inside deep nets so as to permit subsequent non-linear output space transformations. However, optimization of those formulations is challenging and not well understood. Here, we develop a novel model which generalizes existing approaches, such as structured prediction energy networks, and discuss a formulation which maintains applicability of existing inference techniques.