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Free book – for #datascience interviews - Guide to competitive programming


Recently Springer made some good books on maths free to download. Competitive programming strategies are useful for many data science interviews and they help to improve your maths foundations. There are not many books on this subject (although there are many good websites and YouTube resources).

Everything So Far In CVPR 2020 Conference


Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) conference is one of the most popular events around the globe where computer vision experts and researchers gather to share their work and views on the trending techniques on various computer vision topics, including object detection, video understanding, visual recognition, among others. This year, the Computer Vision (CV) researchers and engineers have gathered virtually for the conference from 14 June, which will last till 19 June. In this article, we have listed down all the important topics and tutorials that have been discussed on the 1st and 2nd day of the conference. In this tutorial, the researchers presented the latest developments in robust model fitting, recent advancements in new sampling and local optimisation methods, novel branch-and-bound and mathematical programming algorithms in the global methods as well as the latest developments in differentiable alternative to Random Sample Consensus Algorithm or RANSAC. To know what a RANSAC is and how it works, click here.

Neural Architecture Search with Reinforce and Masked Attention Autoregressive Density Estimators


Neural Architecture Search has become a focus of the Machine Learning community. Techniques span Bayesian optimization with Gaussian priors, evolutionary learning, reinforcement learning based on policy gradient, Q-learning, and Monte-Carlo tree search. In this paper, we present a reinforcement learning algorithm based on policy gradient that uses an attention-based autoregressive model to design the policy network. We demonstrate how performance can be further improved by training an ensemble of policy networks with shared parameters, each network conditioned on a different autoregressive factorization order. On the NASBench-101 search space, it outperforms most algorithms in the literature, including random search.

Agent-Centered Search

AI Magazine

In this article, I describe agent-centered search (also called real-time search or local search) and illustrate this planning paradigm with examples. Agent-centered search methods interleave planning and plan execution and restrict planning to the part of the domain around the current state of the agent, for example, the current location of a mobile robot or the current board position of a game. These methods can execute actions in the presence of time constraints and often have a small sum of planning and execution cost, both because they trade off planning and execution cost and because they allow agents to gather information early in nondeterministic domains, which reduces the amount of planning they have to perform for unencountered situations. These advantages become important as more intelligent systems are interfaced with the world and have to operate autonomously in complex environments. Agent-centered search methods have been applied to a variety of domains, including traditional search, strips-type planning, moving-target search, planning with totally and partially observable Markov decision process models, reinforcement learning, constraint satisfaction, and robot navigation.

Data-Driven Algorithm Design

Communications of the ACM

The best algorithm for a computational problem generally depends on the "relevant inputs," a concept that depends on the application domain and often defies formal articulation. Although there is a large literature on empirical approaches to selecting the best algorithm for a given application domain, there has been surprisingly little theoretical analysis of the problem. Our framework captures several state-of-the-art empirical and theoretical approaches to the problem, and our results identify conditions under which these approaches are guaranteed to perform well. We interpret our results in the contexts of learning greedy heuristics, instance feature-based algorithm selection, and parameter tuning in machine learning. Rigorously comparing algorithms is hard. Two different algorithms for a computational problem generally have incomparable performance: one algorithm is better on some inputs but worse on the others. The simplest and most common solution in the theoretical analysis of algorithms is to summarize the performance of an algorithm using a single number, such as its worst-case performance or its average-case performance with respect to an input distribution. This approach effectively advocates using the algorithm with the best summarizing value (e.g., the smallest worst-case running time). Solving a problem "in practice" generally means identifying an algorithm that works well for most or all instances of interest. When the "instances of interest" are easy to specify formally in advance--say, planar graphs, the traditional analysis approaches often give accurate performance predictions and identify useful algorithms.

ASNets: Deep Learning for Generalised Planning

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

In this paper, we discuss the learning of generalised policies for probabilistic and classical planning problems using Action Schema Networks (ASNets). The ASNet is a neural network architecture that exploits the relational structure of (P)PDDL planning problems to learn a common set of weights that can be applied to any problem in a domain. By mimicking the actions chosen by a traditional, non-learning planner on a handful of small problems in a domain, ASNets are able to learn a generalised reactive policy that can quickly solve much larger instances from the domain. This work extends the ASNet architecture to make it more expressive, while still remaining invariant to a range of symmetries that exist in PPDDL problems. We also present a thorough experimental evaluation of ASNets, including a comparison with heuristic search planners on seven probabilistic and deterministic domains, an extended evaluation on over 18,000 Blocksworld instances, and an ablation study. Finally, we show that sparsity-inducing regularisation can produce ASNets that are compact enough for humans to understand, yielding insights into how the structure of ASNets allows them to generalise across a domain.

Bridging the Gap Between Probabilistic Model Checking and Probabilistic Planning: Survey, Compilations, and Empirical Comparison

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Markov decision processes are of major interest in the planning community as well as in the model checking community. But in spite of the similarity in the considered formal models, the development of new techniques and methods happened largely independently in both communities. This work is intended as a beginning to unite the two research branches. We consider goal-reachability analysis as a common basis between both communities. The core of this paper is the translation from Jani, an overarching input language for quantitative model checkers, into the probabilistic planning domain definition language (PPDDL), and vice versa from PPDDL into Jani. These translations allow the creation of an overarching benchmark collection, including existing case studies from the model checking community, as well as benchmarks from the international probabilistic planning competitions (IPPC). We use this benchmark set as a basis for an extensive empirical comparison of various approaches from the model checking community, variants of value iteration, and MDP heuristic search algorithms developed by the AI planning community. On a per benchmark domain basis, techniques from one community can achieve state-ofthe-art performance in benchmarks of the other community. Across all benchmark domains of one community, the performance comparison is however in favor of the solvers and algorithms of that particular community. Reasons are the design of the benchmarks, as well as tool-related limitations. Our translation methods and benchmark collection foster crossfertilization between both communities, pointing out specific opportunities for widening the scope of solvers to different kinds of models, as well as for exchanging and adopting algorithms across communities.

Divide-and-Conquer Monte Carlo Tree Search For Goal-Directed Planning Artificial Intelligence

Standard planners for sequential decision making (including Monte Carlo planning, tree search, dynamic programming, etc.) are constrained by an implicit sequential planning assumption: The order in which a plan is constructed is the same in which it is executed. We consider alternatives to this assumption for the class of goal-directed Reinforcement Learning (RL) problems. Instead of an environment transition model, we assume an imperfect, goal-directed policy. This low-level policy can be improved by a plan, consisting of an appropriate sequence of sub-goals that guide it from the start to the goal state. We propose a planning algorithm, Divide-and-Conquer Monte Carlo Tree Search (DC-MCTS), for approximating the optimal plan by means of proposing intermediate sub-goals which hierarchically partition the initial tasks into simpler ones that are then solved independently and recursively. The algorithm critically makes use of a learned sub-goal proposal for finding appropriate partitions trees of new tasks based on prior experience. Different strategies for learning sub-goal proposals give rise to different planning strategies that strictly generalize sequential planning. We show that this algorithmic flexibility over planning order leads to improved results in navigation tasks in grid-worlds as well as in challenging continuous control environments.

Flexible and Efficient Long-Range Planning Through Curious Exploration Artificial Intelligence

Identifying algorithms that flexibly and efficiently discover temporally-extended multi-phase plans is an essential step for the advancement of robotics and model-based reinforcement learning. The core problem of long-range planning is finding an efficient way to search through the tree of possible action sequences. Existing non-learned planning solutions from the Task and Motion Planning (TAMP) literature rely on the existence of logical descriptions for the effects and preconditions for actions. This constraint allows TAMP methods to efficiently reduce the tree search problem but limits their ability to generalize to unseen and complex physical environments. In contrast, deep reinforcement learning (DRL) methods use flexible neural-network-based function approximators to discover policies that generalize naturally to unseen circumstances. However, DRL methods struggle to handle the very sparse reward landscapes inherent to long-range multi-step planning situations. Here, we propose the Curious Sample Planner (CSP), which fuses elements of TAMP and DRL by combining a curiosity-guided sampling strategy with imitation learning to accelerate planning. We show that CSP can efficiently discover interesting and complex temporally-extended plans for solving a wide range of physically realistic 3D tasks. In contrast, standard planning and learning methods often fail to solve these tasks at all or do so only with a huge and highly variable number of training samples. We explore the use of a variety of curiosity metrics with CSP and analyze the types of solutions that CSP discovers. Finally, we show that CSP supports task transfer so that the exploration policies learned during experience with one task can help improve efficiency on related tasks.

A stochastic approach to handle knapsack problems in the creation of ensembles Machine Learning

Ensemble-based methods are highly popular approaches that increase the accuracy of a decision by aggregating the opinions of individual voters. The common point is to maximize accuracy; however, a natural limitation occurs if incremental costs are also assigned to the individual voters. Consequently, we investigate creating ensembles under an additional constraint on the total cost of the members. This task can be formulated as a knapsack problem, where the energy is the ensemble accuracy formed by some aggregation rules. However, the generally applied aggregation rules lead to a nonseparable energy function, which takes the common solution tools -- such as dynamic programming -- out of action. We introduce a novel stochastic approach that considers the energy as the joint probability function of the member accuracies. This type of knowledge can be efficiently incorporated in a stochastic search process as a stopping rule, since we have the information on the expected accuracy or, alternatively, the probability of finding more accurate ensembles. Experimental analyses of the created ensembles of pattern classifiers and object detectors confirm the efficiency of our approach. Moreover, we propose a novel stochastic search strategy that better fits the energy, compared with general approaches such as simulated annealing.