Neural Information Processing Systems


Variational Inference with Tail-adaptive f-Divergence

Neural Information Processing Systems

Variational inference with α-divergences has been widely used in modern probabilistic machine learning. Compared to Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence, a major advantage of using α-divergences (with positive α values) is their mass-covering property. However, estimating and optimizing α-divergences require to use importance sampling, which could have extremely large or infinite variances due to heavy tails of importance weights. In this paper, we propose a new class of tail-adaptive f-divergences that adaptively change the convex function f with the tail of the importance weights, in a way that theoretically guarantee finite moments, while simultaneously achieving mass-covering properties. We test our methods on Bayesian neural networks, as well as deep reinforcement learning in which our method is applied to improve a recent soft actor-critic (SAC) algorithm (Haarnoja et al., 2018). Our results show that our approach yields significant advantages compared with existing methods based on classical KL and α-divergences.


Breaking the Curse of Horizon: Infinite-Horizon Off-Policy Estimation

Neural Information Processing Systems

We consider the off-policy estimation problem of estimating the expected reward of a target policy using samples collected by a different behavior policy. Importance sampling (IS) has been a key technique to derive (nearly) unbiased estimators, but is known to suffer from an excessively high variance in long-horizon problems. In the extreme case of in infinite-horizon problems, the variance of an IS-based estimator may even be unbounded. In this paper, we propose a new off-policy estimation method that applies IS directly on the stationary state-visitation distributions to avoid the exploding variance issue faced by existing estimators.Our key contribution is a novel approach to estimating the density ratio of two stationary distributions, with trajectories sampled from only the behavior distribution. We develop a mini-max loss function for the estimation problem, and derive a closed-form solution for the case of RKHS. We support our method with both theoretical and empirical analyses.


Differentially Private Bayesian Inference for Exponential Families

Neural Information Processing Systems

The study of private inference has been sparked by growing concern regarding the analysis of data when it stems from sensitive sources. We present the first method for private Bayesian inference in exponential families that properly accounts for noise introduced by the privacy mechanism. It is efficient because it works only with sufficient statistics and not individual data. Unlike other methods, it gives properly calibrated posterior beliefs in the non-asymptotic data regime.


Deep Attentive Tracking via Reciprocative Learning

Neural Information Processing Systems

Visual attention, derived from cognitive neuroscience, facilitates human perception on the most pertinent subset of the sensory data. Recently, significant efforts have been made to exploit attention schemes to advance computer vision systems. For visual tracking, it is often challenging to track target objects undergoing large appearance changes. Attention maps facilitate visual tracking by selectively paying attention to temporal robust features. Existing tracking-by-detection approaches mainly use additional attention modules to generate feature weights as the classifiers are not equipped with such mechanisms. In this paper, we propose a reciprocative learning algorithm to exploit visual attention for training deep classifiers. The proposed algorithm consists of feed-forward and backward operations to generate attention maps, which serve as regularization terms coupled with the original classification loss function for training. The deep classifier learns to attend to the regions of target objects robust to appearance changes. Extensive experiments on large-scale benchmark datasets show that the proposed attentive tracking method performs favorably against the state-of-the-art approaches.


Mesh-TensorFlow: Deep Learning for Supercomputers

Neural Information Processing Systems

Batch-splitting (data-parallelism) is the dominant distributed Deep Neural Network (DNN) training strategy, due to its universal applicability and its amenability to Single-Program-Multiple-Data (SPMD) programming. However, batch-splitting suffers from problems including the inability to train very large models (due to memory constraints), high latency, and inefficiency at small batch sizes. All of these can be solved by more general distribution strategies (model-parallelism). Unfortunately, efficient model-parallel algorithms tend to be complicated to discover, describe, and to implement, particularly on large clusters. We introduce Mesh-TensorFlow, a language for specifying a general class of distributed tensor computations. Where data-parallelism can be viewed as splitting tensors and operations along the "batch" dimension, in Mesh-TensorFlow, the user can specify any tensor-dimensions to be split across any dimensions of a multi-dimensional mesh of processors. A Mesh-TensorFlow graph compiles into a SPMD program consisting of parallel operations coupled with collective communication primitives such as Allreduce. We use Mesh-TensorFlow to implement an efficient data-parallel, model-parallel version of the Transformer sequence-to-sequence model. Using TPU meshes of up to 512 cores, we train Transformer models with up to 5 billion parameters, surpassing SOTA results on WMT'14 English-to-French translation task and the one-billion-word Language modeling benchmark. Mesh-Tensorflow is available at https://github.com/tensorflow/mesh


Scalable End-to-End Autonomous Vehicle Testing via Rare-event Simulation

Neural Information Processing Systems

While recent developments in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology highlight substantial progress, we lack tools for rigorous and scalable testing. Real-world testing, the de facto evaluation environment, places the public in danger, and, due to the rare nature of accidents, will require billions of miles in order to statistically validate performance claims. We implement a simulation framework that can test an entire modern autonomous driving system, including, in particular, systems that employ deep-learning perception and control algorithms. Using adaptive importance-sampling methods to accelerate rare-event probability evaluation, we estimate the probability of an accident under a base distribution governing standard traffic behavior. We demonstrate our framework on a highway scenario, accelerating system evaluation by 2-20 times over naive Monte Carlo sampling methods and 10-300P times (where P is the number of processors) over real-world testing.


Coordinate Descent with Bandit Sampling

Neural Information Processing Systems

Coordinate descent methods usually minimize a cost function by updating a random decision variable (corresponding to one coordinate) at a time. Ideally, we would update the decision variable that yields the largest decrease in the cost function. However, finding this coordinate would require checking all of them, which would effectively negate the improvement in computational tractability that coordinate descent is intended to afford. To address this, we propose a new adaptive method for selecting a coordinate. First, we find a lower bound on the amount the cost function decreases when a coordinate is updated. We then use a multi-armed bandit algorithm to learn which coordinates result in the largest lower bound by interleaving this learning with conventional coordinate descent updates except that the coordinate is selected proportionately to the expected decrease. We show that our approach improves the convergence of coordinate descent methods both theoretically and experimentally.


Estimators for Multivariate Information Measures in General Probability Spaces

Neural Information Processing Systems

Information theoretic quantities play an important role in various settings in machine learning,including causality testing, structure inference in graphical models, time-series problems, feature selection as well as in providing privacy guarantees. A key quantity of interest is the mutual information and generalizations thereof, including conditional mutual information, multivariate mutual information, total correlationand directed information. While the aforementioned information quantities are well defined in arbitrary probability spaces, existing estimators add or subtract entropies (we term them ΣH methods). These methods work only in purely discrete space or purely continuous case since entropy (or differential entropy) is well defined only in that regime. In this paper, we define a general graph divergence measure (GDM),as a measure of incompatibility between the observed distribution and a given graphical model structure. This generalizes the aforementioned information measures and we construct anovel estimator via a coupling trick that directly estimates these multivariate information measures using the Radon-Nikodym derivative. These estimators are proven to be consistent in a general setting which includes several cases where the existing estimators fail, thus providing the only known estimators for the following settings: (1) the data has some discrete and some continuous valued components (2) some (or all) of the components themselves are discrete-continuous mixtures (3) the data is real-valued but does not have a joint density on the entire space, rather is supported on a low-dimensional manifold. We show that our proposed estimators significantly outperform known estimators on synthetic and real datasets.


Generative modeling for protein structures

Neural Information Processing Systems

Analyzing the structure and function of proteins is a key part of understanding biology at the molecular and cellular level. In addition, a major engineering challenge is to design new proteins in a principled and methodical way. Current computational modeling methods for protein design are slow and often require human oversight and intervention. Here, we apply Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) to the task of generating protein structures, toward application in fast de novo protein design. We encode protein structures in terms of pairwise distances between alpha-carbons on the protein backbone, which eliminates the need for the generative model to learn translational and rotational symmetries. We then introduce a convex formulation of corruption-robust 3D structure recovery to fold the protein structures from generated pairwise distance maps, and solve these problems using the Alternating Direction Method of Multipliers. We test the effectiveness of our models by predicting completions of corrupted protein structures and show that the method is capable of quickly producing structurally plausible solutions.


Learning to Specialize with Knowledge Distillation for Visual Question Answering

Neural Information Processing Systems

Visual Question Answering (VQA) is a notoriously challenging problem because it involves various heterogeneous tasks defined by questions within a unified framework. Learning specialized models for individual types of tasks is intuitively attracting but surprisingly difficult; it is not straightforward to outperform naive independent ensemble approach. We present a principled algorithm to learn specialized models with knowledge distillation under a multiple choice learning (MCL) framework, where training examples are assigned dynamically to a subset of models for updating network parameters. The assigned and non-assigned models are learned to predict ground-truth answers and imitate their own base models before specialization, respectively. Our approach alleviates the limitation of data deficiency in existing MCL frameworks, and allows each model to learn its own specialized expertise without forgetting general knowledge. The proposed framework is model-agnostic and applicable to any tasks other than VQA, e.g., image classification with a large number of labels but few per-class examples, which is known to be difficult under existing MCL schemes. Our experimental results indeed demonstrate that our method outperforms other baselines for VQA and image classification.