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Patterns, predictions, and actions: A story about machine learning

arXiv.org Machine Learning

This graduate textbook on machine learning tells a story of how patterns in data support predictions and consequential actions. Starting with the foundations of decision making, we cover representation, optimization, and generalization as the constituents of supervised learning. A chapter on datasets as benchmarks examines their histories and scientific bases. Self-contained introductions to causality, the practice of causal inference, sequential decision making, and reinforcement learning equip the reader with concepts and tools to reason about actions and their consequences. Throughout, the text discusses historical context and societal impact. We invite readers from all backgrounds; some experience with probability, calculus, and linear algebra suffices.


Learning Branching Heuristics for Propositional Model Counting

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Propositional model counting or #SAT is the problem of computing the number of satisfying assignments of a Boolean formula and many discrete probabilistic inference problems can be translated into a model counting problem to be solved by #SAT solvers. Generic ``exact'' #SAT solvers, however, are often not scalable to industrial-level instances. In this paper, we present Neuro#, an approach for learning branching heuristics for exact #SAT solvers via evolution strategies (ES) to reduce the number of branching steps the solver takes to solve an instance. We experimentally show that our approach not only reduces the step count on similarly distributed held-out instances but it also generalizes to much larger instances from the same problem family. The gap between the learned and the vanilla solver on larger instances is sometimes so wide that the learned solver can even overcome the run time overhead of querying the model and beat the vanilla in wall-clock time by orders of magnitude.


Enhancing SAT solvers with glue variable predictions

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Modern SAT solvers routinely operate at scales that make it impractical to query a neural network for every branching decision. NeuroCore, proposed by Selsam and Bjorner, offered a proof-of-concept that neural networks can still accelerate SAT solvers by only periodically refocusing a score-based branching heuristic. However, that work suffered from several limitations: their modified solvers require GPU acceleration, further ablations showed that they were no better than a random baseline on the SATCOMP 2018 benchmark, and their training target of unsat cores required an expensive data pipeline which only labels relatively easy unsatisfiable problems. We address all these limitations, using a simpler network architecture allowing CPU inference for even large industrial problems with millions of clauses, and training instead to predict {\em glue variables}---a target for which it is easier to generate labelled data, and which can also be formulated as a reinforcement learning task. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach by modifying the state-of-the-art SAT solver CaDiCaL, improving its performance on SATCOMP 2018 and SATRACE 2019 with supervised learning and its performance on a dataset of SHA-1 preimage attacks with reinforcement learning.


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.


On-Device Machine Learning: An Algorithms and Learning Theory Perspective

arXiv.org Machine Learning

The current paradigm for using machine learning models on a device is to train a model in the cloud and perform inference using the trained model on the device. However, with the increasing number of smart devices and improved hardware, there is interest in performing model training on the device. Given this surge in interest, a comprehensive survey of the field from a device-agnostic perspective sets the stage for both understanding the state-of-the-art and for identifying open challenges and future avenues of research. Since on-device learning is an expansive field with connections to a large number of related topics in AI and machine learning (including online learning, model adaptation, one/few-shot learning, etc), covering such a large number of topics in a single survey is impractical. Instead, this survey finds a middle ground by reformulating the problem of on-device learning as resource constrained learning where the resources are compute and memory. This reformulation allows tools, techniques, and algorithms from a wide variety of research areas to be compared equitably. In addition to summarizing the state of the art, the survey also identifies a number of challenges and next steps for both the algorithmic and theoretical aspects of on-device learning.


Lecture Notes: Optimization for Machine Learning

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Lecture notes on optimization for machine learning, derived from a course at Princeton University and tutorials given in MLSS, Buenos Aires, as well as Simons Foundation, Berkeley.



Notes on a New Philosophy of Empirical Science

arXiv.org Machine Learning

This book presents a methodology and philosophy of empirical science based on large scale lossless data compression. In this view a theory is scientific if it can be used to build a data compression program, and it is valuable if it can compress a standard benchmark database to a small size, taking into account the length of the compressor itself. This methodology therefore includes an Occam principle as well as a solution to the problem of demarcation. Because of the fundamental difficulty of lossless compression, this type of research must be empirical in nature: compression can only be achieved by discovering and characterizing empirical regularities in the data. Because of this, the philosophy provides a way to reformulate fields such as computer vision and computational linguistics as empirical sciences: the former by attempting to compress databases of natural images, the latter by attempting to compress large text databases. The book argues that the rigor and objectivity of the compression principle should set the stage for systematic progress in these fields. The argument is especially strong in the context of computer vision, which is plagued by chronic problems of evaluation. The book also considers the field of machine learning. Here the traditional approach requires that the models proposed to solve learning problems be extremely simple, in order to avoid overfitting. However, the world may contain intrinsically complex phenomena, which would require complex models to understand. The compression philosophy can justify complex models because of the large quantity of data being modeled (if the target database is 100 Gb, it is easy to justify a 10 Mb model). The complex models and abstractions learned on the basis of the raw data (images, language, etc) can then be reused to solve any specific learning problem, such as face recognition or machine translation.