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Applications (CV and NLP)

Moderator: Laurens van der Maaten


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Thu 22 July 7:00 - 7:20 PDT

Modeling Hierarchical Structures with Continuous Recursive Neural Networks

Jishnu Ray Chowdhury · Cornelia Caragea

Recursive Neural Networks (RvNNs), which compose sequences according to their underlying hierarchical syntactic structure, have performed well in several natural language processing tasks compared to similar models without structural biases. However, traditional RvNNs are incapable of inducing the latent structure in a plain text sequence on their own. Several extensions have been proposed to overcome this limitation. Nevertheless, these extensions tend to rely on surrogate gradients or reinforcement learning at the cost of higher bias or variance. In this work, we propose Continuous Recursive Neural Network (CRvNN) as a backpropagation-friendly alternative to address the aforementioned limitations. This is done by incorporating a continuous relaxation to the induced structure. We demonstrate that CRvNN achieves strong performance in challenging synthetic tasks such as logical inference (Bowman et al., 2015b) and ListOps (Nangia & Bowman, 2018). We also show that CRvNN performs comparably or better than prior latent structure models on real-world tasks such as sentiment analysis and natural language inference.

Thu 22 July 7:20 - 7:25 PDT

Revisiting Point Cloud Shape Classification with a Simple and Effective Baseline

Ankit Goyal · Hei Law · Bowei Liu · Alejandro Newell · Jia Deng

Processing point cloud data is an important component of many real-world systems. As such, a wide variety of point-based approaches have been proposed, reporting steady benchmark improvements over time. We study the key ingredients of this progress and uncover two critical results. First, we find that auxiliary factors like different evaluation schemes, data augmentation strategies, and loss functions, which are independent of the model architecture, make a large difference in performance. The differences are large enough that they obscure the effect of architecture. When these factors are controlled for, PointNet++, a relatively older network, performs competitively with recent methods. Second, a very simple projection-based method, which we refer to as SimpleView, performs surprisingly well. It achieves on par or better results than sophisticated state-of-the-art methods on ModelNet40 while being half the size of PointNet++. It also outperforms state-of-the-art methods on ScanObjectNN, a real-world point cloud benchmark, and demonstrates better cross-dataset generalization. Code is available at

Thu 22 July 7:25 - 7:30 PDT

Differentiable Dynamic Quantization with Mixed Precision and Adaptive Resolution

zhaoyang zhang · Wenqi Shao · Jinwei Gu · Xiaogang Wang · Ping Luo

Model quantization is challenging due to many tedious hyper-parameters such as precision (bitwidth), dynamic range (minimum and maximum discrete values) and stepsize (interval between discrete values). Unlike prior arts that carefully tune these values, we present a fully differentiable approach to learn all of them, named Differentiable Dynamic Quantization (DDQ), which has several benefits. (1) DDQ is able to quantize challenging lightweight architectures like MobileNets, where different layers prefer different quantization parameters. (2) DDQ is hardware-friendly and can be easily implemented using low-precision matrix-vector multiplication, making it capable in many hardware such as ARM. (3) Extensive experiments show that DDQ outperforms prior arts on many networks and benchmarks, especially when models are already efficient and compact. e.g., DDQ is the first approach that achieves lossless 4-bit quantization for MobileNetV2 on ImageNet.

Thu 22 July 7:30 - 7:35 PDT

Rissanen Data Analysis: Examining Dataset Characteristics via Description Length

Ethan Perez · Douwe Kiela · Kyunghyun Cho

We introduce a method to determine if a certain capability helps to achieve an accurate model of given data. We view labels as being generated from the inputs by a program composed of subroutines with different capabilities, and we posit that a subroutine is useful if and only if the minimal program that invokes it is shorter than the one that does not. Since minimum program length is uncomputable, we instead estimate the labels' minimum description length (MDL) as a proxy, giving us a theoretically-grounded method for analyzing dataset characteristics. We call the method Rissanen Data Analysis (RDA) after the father of MDL, and we showcase its applicability on a wide variety of settings in NLP, ranging from evaluating the utility of generating subquestions before answering a question, to analyzing the value of rationales and explanations, to investigating the importance of different parts of speech, and uncovering dataset gender bias.

Thu 22 July 7:35 - 7:40 PDT

Matrix Completion with Model-free Weighting

Jiayi Wang · Ka Wai Wong · Xiaojun Mao · Kwun Chuen Gary Chan

In this paper, we propose a novel method for matrix completion under general non-uniform missing structures. By controlling an upper bound of a novel balancing error, we construct weights that can actively adjust for the non-uniformity in the empirical risk without explicitly modeling the observation probabilities, and can be computed efficiently via convex optimization. The recovered matrix based on the proposed weighted empirical risk enjoys appealing theoretical guarantees. In particular, the proposed method achieves stronger guarantee than existing work in terms of the scaling with respect to the observation probabilities, under asymptotically heterogeneous missing settings (where entry-wise observation probabilities can be of different orders). These settings can be regarded as a better theoretical model of missing patterns with highly varying probabilities. We also provide a new minimax lower bound under a class of heterogeneous settings. Numerical experiments are also provided to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method.

Thu 22 July 7:40 - 7:45 PDT

PHEW : Constructing Sparse Networks that Learn Fast and Generalize Well without Training Data

Shreyas Malakarjun Patil · Constantine Dovrolis

Methods that sparsify a network at initialization are important in practice because they greatly improve the efficiency of both learning and inference. Our work is based on a recently proposed decomposition of the Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK) that has decoupled the dynamics of the training process into a data-dependent component and an architecture-dependent kernel – the latter referred to as Path Kernel. That work has shown how to design sparse neural networks for faster convergence, without any training data, using the Synflow-L2 algorithm. We first show that even though Synflow-L2 is optimal in terms of convergence, for a given network density, it results in sub-networks with ``bottleneck'' (narrow) layers – leading to poor performance as compared to other data-agnostic methods that use the same number of parameters. Then we propose a new method to construct sparse networks, without any training data, referred to as Paths with Higher-Edge Weights (PHEW). PHEW is a probabilistic network formation method based on biased random walks that only depends on the initial weights. It has similar path kernel properties as Synflow-L2 but it generates much wider layers, resulting in better generalization and performance. PHEW achieves significant improvements over the data-independent SynFlow and SynFlow-L2 methods at a wide range of network densities.

Thu 22 July 7:45 - 7:50 PDT

EL-Attention: Memory Efficient Lossless Attention for Generation

Yu Yan · Jiusheng Chen · Weizhen Qi · Nikhil Bhendawade · Yeyun Gong · Nan Duan · Ruofei Zhang

Transformer model with multi-head attention requires caching intermediate results for efficient inference in generation tasks. However, cache brings new memory-related costs and prevents leveraging larger batch size for faster speed. We propose memory-efficient lossless attention (called EL-attention) to address this issue. It avoids heavy operations for building multi-head keys and values, cache for them is not needed. EL-attention constructs an ensemble of attention results by expanding query while keeping key and value shared. It produces the same result as multi-head attention with less GPU memory and faster inference speed. We conduct extensive experiments on Transformer, BART, and GPT-2 for summarization and question generation tasks. The results show EL-attention speeds up existing models by 1.6x to 5.3x without accuracy loss.

Thu 22 July 7:50 - 7:55 PDT