Collaborating Authors


How Goodhart's Law Can Save Machine Learning Research


"When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure." Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) has been responsible for many of the most outstanding achievements in machine learning. The objective of SGD is to optimise a target in the form of a loss function. But SGD fails in finding'standard' loss functions in a few settings as it converges to the'easy' solutions. As we see above, when classifying sheep, the network learns to use the green background to identify the sheep present.

The Roadmap of Mathematics for Deep Learning


Knowing the mathematics behind machine learning algorithms is a superpower. If you have ever built a model for a real-life problem, you probably experienced that being familiar with the details can go a long way if you want to move beyond baseline performance. This is especially true when you want to push the boundaries of state of the art. However, most of this knowledge is hidden behind layers of advanced mathematics. Understanding methods like stochastic gradient descent might seem difficult since it is built on top of multivariable calculus and probability theory.

Contextual Bandits for adapting to changing User preferences over time Artificial Intelligence

Contextual bandits provide an effective way to model the dynamic data problem in ML by leveraging online (incremental) learning to continuously adjust the predictions based on changing environment. We explore details on contextual bandits, an extension to the traditional reinforcement learning (RL) problem and build a novel algorithm to solve this problem using an array of action-based learners. We apply this approach to model an article recommendation system using an array of stochastic gradient descent (SGD) learners to make predictions on rewards based on actions taken. We then extend the approach to a publicly available MovieLens dataset and explore the findings. First, we make available a simplified simulated dataset showing varying user preferences over time and how this can be evaluated with static and dynamic learning algorithms. This dataset made available as part of this research is intentionally simulated with limited number of features and can be used to evaluate different problem-solving strategies. We will build a classifier using static dataset and evaluate its performance on this dataset. We show limitations of static learner due to fixed context at a point of time and how changing that context brings down the accuracy. Next we develop a novel algorithm for solving the contextual bandit problem. Similar to the linear bandits, this algorithm maps the reward as a function of context vector but uses an array of learners to capture variation between actions/arms. We develop a bandit algorithm using an array of stochastic gradient descent (SGD) learners, with separate learner per arm. Finally, we will apply this contextual bandit algorithm to predicting movie ratings over time by different users from the standard Movie Lens dataset and demonstrate the results.

Constrained Labeling for Weakly Supervised Learning Artificial Intelligence

Curation of large fully supervised datasets has become one of the major roadblocks for machine learning. Weak supervision provides an alternative to supervised learning by training with cheap, noisy, and possibly correlated labeling functions from varying sources. The key challenge in weakly supervised learning is combining the different weak supervision signals while navigating misleading correlations in their errors. In this paper, we propose a simple data-free approach for combining weak supervision signals by defining a constrained space for the possible labels of the weak signals and training with a random labeling within this constrained space. Our method is efficient and stable, converging after a few iterations of gradient descent. We prove theoretical conditions under which the worst-case error of the randomized label decreases with the rank of the linear constraints. We show experimentally that our method outperforms other weak supervision methods on various text- and image-classification tasks.

Momentum-based Gradient Methods in Multi-objective Recommender Systems Artificial Intelligence

Multi-objective gradient methods are becoming the standard for solving multi-objective problems. Among others, they show promising results in developing multi-objective recommender systems with both correlated and uncorrelated objectives. Classic multi-gradient descent usually relies on the combination of the gradients, not including the computation of first and second moments of the gradients. This leads to a brittle behavior and misses important areas in the solution space. In this work, we create a multi-objective Adamize method that leverage the benefits of the Adam optimizer in single-objective problems. This corrects and stabilizes the gradients of every objective before calculating a common gradient descent vector that optimizes all the objectives simultaneously. We evaluate the benefits of Multi-objective Adamize on two multi-objective recommender systems and for three different objective combinations, both correlated or uncorrelated. We report significant improvements, measured with three different Pareto front metrics: hypervolume, coverage, and spacing. Finally, we show that the Adamized Pareto front strictly dominates the previous one on multiple objective pairs.

Gradient Descent Optimization Techniques.


Gradient descent is one of the most popular algorithms to perform optimization and by far the most common way to optimize neural networks. At the same time, every state-of-the-art Deep Learning library contains implementations of various algorithms to optimize gradient descent . This blog post aims at providing you with intuitions towards the behaviour of different algorithms for optimizing gradient descent that will help you put them to use. Gradient descent is a way to minimize an objective function J(θ) parameterized by a model's parameters by updating the parameters in the opposite direction of the gradient of the objective function .J(θ) w.r.t. to the parameters. The learning rate η determines the size of the steps we take to reach a (local) minimum.

Joint Policy Search for Multi-agent Collaboration with Imperfect Information Artificial Intelligence

To learn good joint policies for multi-agent collaboration with imperfect information remains a fundamental challenge. While for two-player zero-sum games, coordinate-ascent approaches (optimizing one agent's policy at a time, e.g., self-play) work with guarantees, in multi-agent cooperative setting they often converge to sub-optimal Nash equilibrium. On the other hand, directly modeling joint policy changes in imperfect information game is nontrivial due to complicated interplay of policies (e.g., upstream updates affect downstream state reachability). In this paper, we show global changes of game values can be decomposed to policy changes localized at each information set, with a novel term named policy-change density. Based on this, we propose Joint Policy Search(JPS) that iteratively improves joint policies of collaborative agents in imperfect information games, without re-evaluating the entire game. On multi-agent collaborative tabular games, JPS is proven to never worsen performance and can improve solutions provided by unilateral approaches (e.g, CFR), outperforming algorithms designed for collaborative policy learning (e.g. BAD). Furthermore, for real-world games, JPS has an online form that naturally links with gradient updates. We test it to Contract Bridge, a 4-player imperfect-information game where a team of $2$ collaborates to compete against the other. In its bidding phase, players bid in turn to find a good contract through a limited information channel. Based on a strong baseline agent that bids competitive bridge purely through domain-agnostic self-play, JPS improves collaboration of team players and outperforms WBridge5, a championship-winning software, by $+0.63$ IMPs (International Matching Points) per board over 1k games, substantially better than previous SoTA ($+0.41$ IMPs/b) under Double-Dummy evaluation.

Three Variants of Differential Privacy: Lossless Conversion and Applications Artificial Intelligence

We consider three different variants of differential privacy (DP), namely approximate DP, R\'enyi DP (RDP), and hypothesis test DP. In the first part, we develop a machinery for optimally relating approximate DP to RDP based on the joint range of two $f$-divergences that underlie the approximate DP and RDP. In particular, this enables us to derive the optimal approximate DP parameters of a mechanism that satisfies a given level of RDP. As an application, we apply our result to the moments accountant framework for characterizing privacy guarantees of noisy stochastic gradient descent (SGD). When compared to the state-of-the-art, our bounds may lead to about 100 more stochastic gradient descent iterations for training deep learning models for the same privacy budget. In the second part, we establish a relationship between RDP and hypothesis test DP which allows us to translate the RDP constraint into a tradeoff between type I and type II error probabilities of a certain binary hypothesis test. We then demonstrate that for noisy SGD our result leads to tighter privacy guarantees compared to the recently proposed $f$-DP framework for some range of parameters.

ClipUp: A Simple and Powerful Optimizer for Distribution-based Policy Evolution Artificial Intelligence

Distribution-based search algorithms are an effective approach for evolutionary reinforcement learning of neural network controllers. In these algorithms, gradients of the total reward with respect to the policy parameters are estimated using a population of solutions drawn from a search distribution, and then used for policy optimization with stochastic gradient ascent. A common choice in the community is to use the Adam optimization algorithm for obtaining an adaptive behavior during gradient ascent, due to its success in a variety of supervised learning settings. As an alternative to Adam, we propose to enhance classical momentum-based gradient ascent with two simple techniques: gradient normalization and update clipping. We argue that the resulting optimizer called ClipUp (short for "clipped updates") is a better choice for distribution-based policy evolution because its working principles are simple and easy to understand and its hyperparameters can be tuned more intuitively in practice. Moreover, it removes the need to re-tune hyperparameters if the reward scale changes. Experiments show that ClipUp is competitive with Adam despite its simplicity and is effective on challenging continuous control benchmarks, including the Humanoid control task based on the Bullet physics simulator.

Gradient Descent over Metagrammars for Syntax-Guided Synthesis Artificial Intelligence

The performance of a syntax-guided synthesis algorithm is highly dependent on the provision of a good syntactic template, or grammar. Provision of such a template is often left to the user to do manually, though in the absence of such a grammar, state-of-the-art solvers will provide their own default grammar, which is dependent on the signature of the target program to be sythesized. In this work, we speculate this default grammar could be improved upon substantially. We build sets of rules, or metagrammars, for constructing grammars, and perform a gradient descent over these metagrammars aiming to find a metagrammar which solves more benchmarks and on average faster. We show the resulting metagrammar enables CVC4 to solve 26% more benchmarks than the default grammar within a 300s time-out, and that metagrammars learnt from tens of benchmarks generalize to performance on 100s of benchmarks.