Deep Learning 1

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Tue 20 July 7:00 - 7:20 PDT
Not All Memories are Created Equal: Learning to Forget by Expiring

Sainbayar Sukhbaatar · Da JU · Spencer Poff · Stephen Roller · Arthur Szlam · Jason Weston · Angela Fan

Attention mechanisms have shown promising results in sequence modeling tasks that require long-term memory. Recent work investigated mechanisms to reduce the computational cost of preserving and storing memories. However, not all content in the past is equally important to remember. We propose Expire-Span, a method that learns to retain the most important information and expire the irrelevant information. This forgetting of memories enables Transformers to scale to attend over tens of thousands of previous timesteps efficiently, as not all states from previous timesteps are preserved. We demonstrate that Expire-Span can help models identify and retain critical information and show it can achieve strong performance on reinforcement learning tasks specifically designed to challenge this functionality. Next, we show that Expire-Span can scale to memories that are tens of thousands in size, setting a new state of the art on incredibly long context tasks such as character-level language modeling and a frame-by-frame moving objects task. Finally, we analyze the efficiency of Expire-Span compared to existing approaches and demonstrate that it trains faster and uses less memory.

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Tue 20 July 7:20 - 7:25 PDT
Learning Bounds for Open-Set Learning

Zhen Fang · Jie Lu · Anjin Liu · Feng Liu · Guangquan Zhang

Traditional supervised learning aims to train a classifier in the closed-set world, where training and test samples share the same label space. In this paper, we target a more challenging and realistic setting: open-set learning (OSL), where there exist test samples from the classes that are unseen during training. Although researchers have designed many methods from the algorithmic perspectives, there are few methods that provide generalization guarantees on their ability to achieve consistent performance on different training samples drawn from the same distribution. Motivated by the transfer learning and probably approximate correct (PAC) theory, we make a bold attempt to study OSL by proving its generalization error−given training samples with size n, the estimation error will get close to order Op(1/√n). This is the first study to provide a generalization bound for OSL, which we do by theoretically investigating the risk of the target classifier on unknown classes. According to our theory, a novel algorithm, called auxiliary open-set risk (AOSR) is proposed to address the OSL problem. Experiments verify the efficacy of AOSR. The code is available at

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Tue 20 July 7:25 - 7:30 PDT
Perceiver: General Perception with Iterative Attention

Andrew Jaegle · Felix Axel Gimeno Gil · Andy Brock · Oriol Vinyals · Andrew Zisserman · Joao Carreira

Biological systems understand the world by simultaneously processing high-dimensional inputs from modalities as diverse as vision, audition, touch, proprioception, etc. The perception models used in deep learning on the other hand are designed for individual modalities, often relying on domain-specific assumptions such as the local grid structures exploited by virtually all existing vision models. These priors introduce helpful inductive biases, but also lock models to individual modalities. In this paper we introduce the Perceiver – a model that builds upon Transformers and hence makes few architectural assumptions about the relationship between its inputs, but that also scales to hundreds of thousands of inputs, like ConvNets. The model leverages an asymmetric attention mechanism to iteratively distill inputs into a tight latent bottleneck, allowing it to scale to handle very large inputs. We show that this architecture is competitive with or outperforms strong, specialized models on classification tasks across various modalities: images, point clouds, audio, video and video+audio. The Perceiver obtains performance comparable to ResNet-50 and ViT on ImageNet without 2D convolutions by directly attending to 50,000 pixels. It is also competitive in all modalities in AudioSet.

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Tue 20 July 7:30 - 7:35 PDT
Synthesizer: Rethinking Self-Attention for Transformer Models

Yi Tay · Dara Bahri · Don Metzler · Da-Cheng Juan · Zhe Zhao · Che Zheng

The dot product self-attention is known to be central and indispensable to state-of-the-art Transformer models. But is it really required? This paper investigates the true importance and contribution of the dot product-based self-attention mechanism on the performance of Transformer models. Via extensive experiments, we find that (1) random alignment matrices surprisingly perform quite competitively and (2) learning attention weights from token-token (query-key) interactions is useful but not that important after all. To this end, we propose \textsc{Synthesizer}, a model that learns synthetic attention weights without token-token interactions. In our experiments, we first show that simple Synthesizers achieve highly competitive performance when compared against vanilla Transformer models across a range of tasks, including machine translation, language modeling, text generation and GLUE/SuperGLUE benchmarks. When composed with dot product attention, we find that Synthesizers consistently outperform Transformers. Moreover, we conduct additional comparisons of Synthesizers against Dynamic Convolutions, showing that simple Random Synthesizer is not only $60\%$ faster but also improves perplexity by a relative $3.5\%$. Finally, we show that simple factorized Synthesizers can outperform Linformers on encoding only tasks.

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Tue 20 July 7:35 - 7:40 PDT
Slot Machines: Discovering Winning Combinations of Random Weights in Neural Networks

Maxwell M Aladago · Lorenzo Torresani

In contrast to traditional weight optimization in a continuous space, we demonstrate the existence of effective random networks whose weights are never updated. By selecting a weight among a fixed set of random values for each individual connection, our method uncovers combinations of random weights that match the performance of traditionally-trained networks of the same capacity. We refer to our networks as "slot machines" where each reel (connection) contains a fixed set of symbols (random values). Our backpropagation algorithm "spins" the reels to seek "winning" combinations, i.e., selections of random weight values that minimize the given loss. Quite surprisingly, we find that allocating just a few random values to each connection (e.g., 8 values per connection) yields highly competitive combinations despite being dramatically more constrained compared to traditionally learned weights. Moreover, finetuning these combinations often improves performance over the trained baselines. A randomly initialized VGG-19 with 8 values per connection contains a combination that achieves 91% test accuracy on CIFAR-10. Our method also achieves an impressive performance of 98.2% on MNIST for neural networks containing only random weights.

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Tue 20 July 7:40 - 7:45 PDT
What's in the Box? Exploring the Inner Life of Neural Networks with Robust Rules

Jonas Fischer · Anna Olah · Jilles Vreeken

We propose a novel method for exploring how neurons within neural networks interact. In particular, we consider activation values of a network for given data, and propose to mine noise-robust rules of the form X → Y , where X and Y are sets of neurons in different layers. We identify the best set of rules by the Minimum Description Length Principle as the rules that together are most descriptive of the activation data. To learn good rule sets in practice, we propose the unsupervised ExplaiNN algorithm. Extensive evaluation shows that the patterns it discovers give clear insight in how networks perceive the world: they identify shared, respectively class-specific traits, compositionality within the network, as well as locality in convolutional layers. Moreover, these patterns are not only easily interpretable, but also supercharge prototyping as they identify which groups of neurons to consider in unison.

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Tue 20 July 7:45 - 7:50 PDT
Neural-Pull: Learning Signed Distance Function from Point clouds by Learning to Pull Space onto Surface

Baorui Ma · Zhizhong Han · Yushen Liu · Matthias Zwicker

Reconstructing continuous surfaces from 3D point clouds is a fundamental operation in 3D geometry processing. Several recent state-of-the-art methods address this problem using neural networks to learn signed distance functions (SDFs). In this paper, we introduce Neural-Pull, a new approach that is simple and leads to high quality SDFs. Specifically, we train a neural network to pull query 3D locations to their closest points on the surface using the predicted signed distance values and the gradient at the query locations, both of which are computed by the network itself. The pulling operation moves each query location with a stride given by the distance predicted by the network. Based on the sign of the distance, this may move the query location along or against the direction of the gradient of the SDF. This is a differentiable operation that allows us to update the signed distance value and the gradient simultaneously during training. Our outperforming results under widely used benchmarks demonstrate that we can learn SDFs more accurately and flexibly for surface reconstruction and single image reconstruction than the state-of-the-art methods. Our code and data are available at

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Tue 20 July 7:50 - 7:55 PDT

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