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A review of machine learning applications in wildfire science and management

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence has been applied in wildfire science and management since the 1990s, with early applications including neural networks and expert systems. Since then the field has rapidly progressed congruently with the wide adoption of machine learning (ML) in the environmental sciences. Here, we present a scoping review of ML in wildfire science and management. Our objective is to improve awareness of ML among wildfire scientists and managers, as well as illustrate the challenging range of problems in wildfire science available to data scientists. We first present an overview of popular ML approaches used in wildfire science to date, and then review their use in wildfire science within six problem domains: 1) fuels characterization, fire detection, and mapping; 2) fire weather and climate change; 3) fire occurrence, susceptibility, and risk; 4) fire behavior prediction; 5) fire effects; and 6) fire management. We also discuss the advantages and limitations of various ML approaches and identify opportunities for future advances in wildfire science and management within a data science context. We identified 298 relevant publications, where the most frequently used ML methods included random forests, MaxEnt, artificial neural networks, decision trees, support vector machines, and genetic algorithms. There exists opportunities to apply more current ML methods (e.g., deep learning and agent based learning) in wildfire science. However, despite the ability of ML models to learn on their own, expertise in wildfire science is necessary to ensure realistic modelling of fire processes across multiple scales, while the complexity of some ML methods requires sophisticated knowledge for their application. Finally, we stress that the wildfire research and management community plays an active role in providing relevant, high quality data for use by practitioners of ML methods.


Intelligence, physics and information -- the tradeoff between accuracy and simplicity in machine learning

arXiv.org Machine Learning

How can we enable machines to make sense of the world, and become better at learning? To approach this goal, I believe viewing intelligence in terms of many integral aspects, and also a universal two-term tradeoff between task performance and complexity, provides two feasible perspectives. In this thesis, I address several key questions in some aspects of intelligence, and study the phase transitions in the two-term tradeoff, using strategies and tools from physics and information. Firstly, how can we make the learning models more flexible and efficient, so that agents can learn quickly with fewer examples? Inspired by how physicists model the world, we introduce a paradigm and an AI Physicist agent for simultaneously learning many small specialized models (theories) and the domain they are accurate, which can then be simplified, unified and stored, facilitating few-shot learning in a continual way. Secondly, for representation learning, when can we learn a good representation, and how does learning depend on the structure of the dataset? We approach this question by studying phase transitions when tuning the tradeoff hyperparameter. In the information bottleneck, we theoretically show that these phase transitions are predictable and reveal structure in the relationships between the data, the model, the learned representation and the loss landscape. Thirdly, how can agents discover causality from observations? We address part of this question by introducing an algorithm that combines prediction and minimizing information from the input, for exploratory causal discovery from observational time series. Fourthly, to make models more robust to label noise, we introduce Rank Pruning, a robust algorithm for classification with noisy labels. I believe that building on the work of my thesis we will be one step closer to enable more intelligent machines that can make sense of the world.


Effective Learning of Probabilistic Models for Clinical Predictions from Longitudinal Data

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Such information includes: the database in modern hospital systems, usually known as Electronic Health Records (EHR), which store the patients' diagnosis, medication, laboratory test results, medical image data, etc.; information on various health behaviors tracked and stored by wearable devices, ubiquitous sensors and mobile applications, such as the smoking status, alcoholism history, exercise level, sleeping conditions, etc.; information collected by census or various surveys regarding sociodemographic factors of the target cohort; and information on people's mental health inferred from their social media activities or social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. These health-related data come from heterogeneous sources, describe assorted aspects of the individual's health conditions. Such data is rich in structure and information which has great research potentials for revealing unknown medical knowledge about genomic epidemiology, disease developments and correlations, drug discoveries, medical diagnosis, mental illness prevention, health behavior adaption, etc. In real-world problems, the number of features relating to a certain health condition could grow exponentially with the development of new information techniques for collecting and measuring data. To reveal the causal influence between various factors and a certain disease or to discover the correlations among diseases from data at such a tremendous scale, requires the assistance of advanced information technology such as data mining, machine learning, text mining, etc. Machine learning technology not only provides a way for learning qualitative relationships among features and patients, but also the quantitative parameters regarding the strength of such correlations.


A high-bias, low-variance introduction to Machine Learning for physicists

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Machine Learning (ML) is one of the most exciting and dynamic areas of modern research and application. The purpose of this review is to provide an introduction to the core concepts and tools of machine learning in a manner easily understood and intuitive to physicists. The review begins by covering fundamental concepts in ML and modern statistics such as the bias-variance tradeoff, overfitting, regularization, and generalization before moving on to more advanced topics in both supervised and unsupervised learning. Topics covered in the review include ensemble models, deep learning and neural networks, clustering and data visualization, energy-based models (including MaxEnt models and Restricted Boltzmann Machines), and variational methods. Throughout, we emphasize the many natural connections between ML and statistical physics. A notable aspect of the review is the use of Python notebooks to introduce modern ML/statistical packages to readers using physics-inspired datasets (the Ising Model and Monte-Carlo simulations of supersymmetric decays of proton-proton collisions). We conclude with an extended outlook discussing possible uses of machine learning for furthering our understanding of the physical world as well as open problems in ML where physicists maybe able to contribute. (Notebooks are available at https://physics.bu.edu/~pankajm/MLnotebooks.html )