Collaborating Authors

Collaborative and Privacy-Preserving Machine Teaching via Consensus Optimization Machine Learning

In this work, we define a collaborative and privacy-preserving machine teaching paradigm with multiple distributed teachers. We focus on consensus super teaching. It aims at organizing distributed teachers to jointly select a compact while informative training subset from data hosted by the teachers to make a learner learn better. The challenges arise from three perspectives. First, the state-of-the-art pool-based super teaching method applies mixed-integer non-linear programming (MINLP) which does not scale well to very large data sets. Second, it is desirable to restrict data access of the teachers to only their own data during the collaboration stage to mitigate privacy leaks. Finally, the teaching collaboration should be communication-efficient since large communication overheads can cause synchronization delays between teachers. To address these challenges, we formulate collaborative teaching as a consensus and privacy-preserving optimization process to minimize teaching risk. We theoretically demonstrate the necessity of collaboration between teachers for improving the learner's learning. Furthermore, we show that the proposed method enjoys a similar property as the Oracle property of adaptive Lasso. The empirical study illustrates that our teaching method can deliver significantly more accurate teaching results with high speed, while the non-collaborative MINLP-based super teaching becomes prohibitively expensive to compute.

Machine Teaching for Bayesian Learners in the Exponential Family

Neural Information Processing Systems

What if there is a teacher who knows the learning goal and wants to design good training data for a machine learner? We propose an optimal teaching framework aimed at learners who employ Bayesian models. Our framework is expressed as an optimization problem over teaching examples that balance the future loss of the learner and the effort of the teacher. This optimization problem is in general hard. In the case where the learner employs conjugate exponential family models, we present an approximate algorithm for finding the optimal teaching set.

Explainable Machine Learning


Daily life is increasingly governed by decisions made by algorithms due to the growing availability of big data sets. Many machine learning algorithms, and neural networks specifically, are black-box models, i.e. they give no insight into how they reach their outcomes which prevents users from trusting the model. If we cannot understand the reasons for their decisions, how can we be sure that the decisions are correct? What if they are wrong, discriminating or amoral? This project aims to create new machine learning methods that can explain their decision making process, in order for users to understand the reasons behind a prediction.


AAAI Conferences

Expressing data vectors as sparse linear combinations of basis elements (dictionary) is widely used in machine learning, signal processing, and statistics. It has been found that dictionaries learned from data are more effective than off-the-shelf ones. Dictionary learning has become an important tool for computer vision. Traditional dictionary learning methods use quadratic loss function which is known sensitive to outliers. Hence they could not learn the good dictionaries when outliers exist. In this paper, aiming at learning dictionaries resistant to outliers, we proposed capped l1-norm based dictionary learning and an efficient iterative re-weighted algorithm to solve the problem. We provided theoretical analysis and carried out extensive experiments on real word datasets and synthetic datasets to show the effectiveness of our method.

Learner-aware Teaching: Inverse Reinforcement Learning with Preferences and Constraints

Neural Information Processing Systems

Inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) enables an agent to learn complex behavior by observing demonstrations from a (near-)optimal policy. The typical assumption is that the learner's goal is to match the teacher's demonstrated behavior. In this paper, we consider the setting where the learner has its own preferences that it additionally takes into consideration. These preferences can for example capture behavioral biases, mismatched worldviews, or physical constraints. We study two teaching approaches: learner-agnostic teaching, where the teacher provides demonstrations from an optimal policy ignoring the learner's preferences, and learner-aware teaching, where the teacher accounts for the learner's preferences.