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(Machine) Learning to Do More with Less

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Determining the best method for training a machine learning algorithm is critical to maximizing its ability to classify data. In this paper, we compare the standard "fully supervised" approach (that relies on knowledge of event-by-event truth-level labels) with a recent proposal that instead utilizes class ratios as the only discriminating information provided during training. This so-called "weakly supervised" technique has access to less information than the fully supervised method and yet is still able to yield impressive discriminating power. In addition, weak supervision seems particularly well suited to particle physics since quantum mechanics is incompatible with the notion of mapping an individual event onto any single Feynman diagram. We examine the technique in detail -- both analytically and numerically -- with a focus on the robustness to issues of mischaracterizing the training samples. Weakly supervised networks turn out to be remarkably insensitive to systematic mismodeling. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the event level outputs for weakly versus fully supervised networks are probing different kinematics, even though the numerical quality metrics are essentially identical. This implies that it should be possible to improve the overall classification ability by combining the output from the two types of networks. For concreteness, we apply this technology to a signature of beyond the Standard Model physics to demonstrate that all these impressive features continue to hold in a scenario of relevance to the LHC.


Semi-Supervised Anomaly Detection - Towards Model-Independent Searches of New Physics

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Most classification algorithms used in high energy physics fall under the category of supervised machine learning. Such methods require a training set containing both signal and background events and are prone to classification errors should this training data be systematically inaccurate for example due to the assumed MC model. To complement such model-dependent searches, we propose an algorithm based on semi-supervised anomaly detection techniques, which does not require a MC training sample for the signal data. We first model the background using a multivariate Gaussian mixture model. We then search for deviations from this model by fitting to the observations a mixture of the background model and a number of additional Gaussians. This allows us to perform pattern recognition of any anomalous excess over the background. We show by a comparison to neural network classifiers that such an approach is a lot more robust against misspecification of the signal MC than supervised classification. In cases where there is an unexpected signal, a neural network might fail to correctly identify it, while anomaly detection does not suffer from such a limitation. On the other hand, when there are no systematic errors in the training data, both methods perform comparably.


Comparing Weak- and Unsupervised Methods for Resonant Anomaly Detection

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Anomaly detection techniques are growing in importance at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), motivated by the increasing need to search for new physics in a model-agnostic way. In this work, we provide a detailed comparative study between a well-studied unsupervised method called the autoencoder (AE) and a weakly-supervised approach based on the Classification Without Labels (CWoLa) technique. We examine the ability of the two methods to identify a new physics signal at different cross sections in a fully hadronic resonance search. By construction, the AE classification performance is independent of the amount of injected signal. In contrast, the CWoLa performance improves with increasing signal abundance. When integrating these approaches with a complete background estimate, we find that the two methods have complementary sensitivity. In particular, CWoLa is effective at finding diverse and moderately rare signals while the AE can provide sensitivity to very rare signals, but only with certain topologies. We therefore demonstrate that both techniques are complementary and can be used together for anomaly detection at the LHC.


Simulation Assisted Likelihood-free Anomaly Detection

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Given the lack of evidence for new particle discoveries at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), it is critical to broaden the search program. A variety of model-independent searches have been proposed, adding sensitivity to unexpected signals. There are generally two types of such searches: those that rely heavily on simulations and those that are entirely based on (unlabeled) data. This paper introduces a hybrid method that makes the best of both approaches. For potential signals that are resonant in one known feature, this new method first learns a parameterized reweighting function to morph a given simulation to match the data in sidebands. This function is then interpolated into the signal region and then the reweighted background-only simulation can be used for supervised learning as well as for background estimation. The background estimation from the reweighted simulation allows for non-trivial correlations between features used for classification and the resonant feature. A dijet search with jet substructure is used to illustrate the new method. Future applications of Simulation Assisted Likelihood-free Anomaly Detection (SALAD) include a variety of final states and potential combinations with other model-independent approaches.


What is the Machine Learning?

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Applications of machine learning tools to problems of physical interest are often criticized for producing sensitivity at the expense of transparency. To address this concern, we explore a data planing procedure for identifying combinations of variables -- aided by physical intuition -- that can discriminate signal from background. Weights are introduced to smooth away the features in a given variable(s). New networks are then trained on this modified data. Observed decreases in sensitivity diagnose the variable's discriminating power. Planing also allows the investigation of the linear versus non-linear nature of the boundaries between signal and background. We demonstrate the efficacy of this approach using a toy example, followed by an application to an idealized heavy resonance scenario at the Large Hadron Collider. By unpacking the information being utilized by these algorithms, this method puts in context what it means for a machine to learn.