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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.


A Leisurely Look at Versions and Variants of the Cross Validation Estimator

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Many versions of cross-validation (CV) exist in the literature; and each version though has different variants. All are used interchangeably by many practitioners; yet, without explanation to the connection or difference among them. This article has three contributions. First, it starts by mathematical formalization of these different versions and variants that estimate the error rate and the Area Under the ROC Curve (AUC) of a classification rule, to show the connection and difference among them. Second, we prove some of their properties and prove that many variants are either redundant or "not smooth". Hence, we suggest to abandon all redundant versions and variants and only keep the leave-one-out, the $K$-fold, and the repeated $K$-fold. We show that the latter is the only among the three versions that is "smooth" and hence looks mathematically like estimating the mean performance of the classification rules. However, empirically, for the known phenomenon of "weak correlation", which we explain mathematically and experimentally, it estimates both conditional and mean performance almost with the same accuracy. Third, we conclude the article with suggesting two research points that may answer the remaining question of whether we can come up with a finalist among the three estimators: (1) a comparative study, that is much more comprehensive than those available in literature and conclude no overall winner, is needed to consider a wide range of distributions, datasets, and classifiers including complex ones obtained via the recent deep learning approach. (2) we sketch the path of deriving a rigorous method for estimating the variance of the only "smooth" version, repeated $K$-fold CV, rather than those ad-hoc methods available in the literature that ignore the covariance structure among the folds of CV.


Representation Learning for Words and Entities

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

This thesis presents new methods for unsupervised learning of distributed representations of words and entities from text and knowledge bases. The first algorithm presented in the thesis is a multi-view algorithm for learning representations of words called Multiview Latent Semantic Analysis (MVLSA). By incorporating up to 46 different types of co-occurrence statistics for the same vocabulary of english words, I show that MVLSA outperforms other state-of-the-art word embedding models. Next, I focus on learning entity representations for search and recommendation and present the second method of this thesis, Neural Variational Set Expansion (NVSE). NVSE is also an unsupervised learning method, but it is based on the Variational Autoencoder framework. Evaluations with human annotators show that NVSE can facilitate better search and recommendation of information gathered from noisy, automatic annotation of unstructured natural language corpora. Finally, I move from unstructured data and focus on structured knowledge graphs. I present novel approaches for learning embeddings of vertices and edges in a knowledge graph that obey logical constraints.


Automatic Language Identification in Texts: A Survey

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Language identification (“LI”) is the problem of determining the natural language that a document or part thereof is written in. Automatic LI has been extensively researched for over fifty years. Today, LI is a key part of many text processing pipelines, as text processing techniques generally assume that the language of the input text is known. Research in this area has recently been especially active. This article provides a brief history of LI research, and an extensive survey of the features and methods used in the LI literature. We describe the features and methods using a unified notation, to make the relationships between methods clearer. We discuss evaluation methods, applications of LI, as well as off-the-shelfLI systems that do not require training by the end user. Finally, we identify open issues, survey the work to date on each issue, and propose future directions for research in LI.


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.