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Probabilistic Methods/Applications

Ballroom 3 & 4

Moderator: John Sipple

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Tue 19 July 7:30 - 7:50 PDT

Tackling covariate shift with node-based Bayesian neural networks

Trung Trinh · Markus Heinonen · Luigi Acerbi · Samuel Kaski

Bayesian neural networks (BNNs) promise improved generalization under covariate shift by providing principled probabilistic representations of epistemic uncertainty. However, weight-based BNNs often struggle with high computational complexity of large-scale architectures and datasets. Node-based BNNs have recently been introduced as scalable alternatives, which induce epistemic uncertainty by multiplying each hidden node with latent random variables, while learning a point-estimate of the weights. In this paper, we interpret these latent noise variables as implicit representations of simple and domain-agnostic data perturbations during training, producing BNNs that perform well under covariate shift due to input corruptions. We observe that the diversity of the implicit corruptions depends on the entropy of the latent variables, and propose a straightforward approach to increase the entropy of these variables during training. We evaluate the method on out-of-distribution image classification benchmarks, and show improved uncertainty estimation of node-based BNNs under covariate shift due to input perturbations. As a side effect, the method also provides robustness against noisy training labels.

Tue 19 July 7:50 - 7:55 PDT

Why the Rich Get Richer? On the Balancedness of Random Partition Models

Changwoo Lee · Huiyan Sang

Random partition models are widely used in Bayesian methods for various clustering tasks, such as mixture models, topic models, and community detection problems. While the number of clusters induced by random partition models has been studied extensively, another important model property regarding the balancedness of partition has been largely neglected. We formulate a framework to define and theoretically study the balancedness of exchangeable random partition models, by analyzing how a model assigns probabilities to partitions with different levels of balancedness. We demonstrate that the "rich-get-richer" characteristic of many existing popular random partition models is an inevitable consequence of two common assumptions: product-form exchangeability and projectivity. We propose a principled way to compare the balancedness of random partition models, which gives a better understanding of what model works better and what doesn't for different applications. We also introduce the "rich-get-poorer" random partition models and illustrate their application to entity resolution tasks.

Tue 19 July 7:55 - 8:00 PDT

A Completely Tuning-Free and Robust Approach to Sparse Precision Matrix Estimation

Chau Tran · Guo Yu

Despite the vast literature on sparse Gaussian graphical models, current methods either are asymptotically tuning-free (which still require fine-tuning in practice) or hinge on computationally expensive methods (e.g., cross-validation) to determine the proper level of regularization. We propose a completely tuning-free approach for estimating sparse Gaussian graphical models. Our method uses model-agnostic regularization parameters to estimate each column of the target precision matrix and enjoys several desirable properties. Computationally, our estimator can be computed efficiently by linear programming. Theoretically, the proposed estimator achieves minimax optimal convergence rates under various norms. We further propose a second-stage enhancement with non-convex penalties which possesses the strong oracle property. Through comprehensive numerical studies, our methods demonstrate favorable statistical performance. Remarkably, our methods exhibit strong robustness to the violation of the Gaussian assumption and significantly outperform competing methods in the heavy-tailed settings.

Tue 19 July 8:00 - 8:05 PDT

Markov Chain Monte Carlo for Continuous-Time Switching Dynamical Systems

Lukas Köhs · Bastian Alt · Heinz Koeppl

Switching dynamical systems are an expressive model class for the analysis of time-series data. As in many fields within the natural and engineering sciences, the systems under study typically evolve continuously in time, it is natural to consider continuous-time model formulations consisting of switching stochastic differential equations governed by an underlying Markov jump process. Inference in these types of models is however notoriously difficult, and tractable computational schemes are rare. In this work, we propose a novel inference algorithm utilizing a Markov Chain Monte Carlo approach. The presented Gibbs sampler allows to efficiently obtain samples from the exact continuous-time posterior processes. Our framework naturally enables Bayesian parameter estimation, and we also include an estimate for the diffusion covariance, which is oftentimes assumed fixed in stochastic differential equations models. We evaluate our framework under the modeling assumption and compare it against an existing variational inference approach.

Tue 19 July 8:05 - 8:10 PDT

Calibrated Learning to Defer with One-vs-All Classifiers

Rajeev Verma · Eric Nalisnick

The learning to defer (L2D) framework has the potential to make AI systems safer. For a given input, the system can defer the decision to a human if the human is more likely than the model to take the correct action. We study the calibration of L2D systems, investigating if the probabilities they output are sound. We find that Mozannar & Sontag’s (2020) multiclass framework is not calibrated with respect to expert correctness. Moreover, it is not even guaranteed to produce valid probabilities due to its parameterization being degenerate for this purpose. We propose an L2D system based on one-vs-all classifiers that is able to produce calibrated probabilities of expert correctness. Furthermore, our loss function is also a consistent surrogate for multiclass L2D, like Mozannar & Sontag’s (2020). Our experiments verify that not only is our system calibrated, but this benefit comes at no cost to accuracy. Our model's accuracy is always comparable (and often superior) to Mozannar & Sontag’s (2020) model's in tasks ranging from hate speech detection to galaxy classification to diagnosis of skin lesions.

Tue 19 July 8:10 - 8:30 PDT

Tractable Uncertainty for Structure Learning

Benjie Wang · Matthew Wicker · Marta Kwiatkowska

Bayesian structure learning allows one to capture uncertainty over the causal directed acyclic graph (DAG) responsible for generating given data. In this work, we present Tractable Uncertainty for STructure learning (TRUST), a framework for approximate posterior inference that relies on probabilistic circuits as a representation of our posterior belief. In contrast to sample-based posterior approximations, our representation can capture a much richer space of DAGs, while being able to tractably answer a range of useful inference queries. We empirically demonstrate how probabilistic circuits can be used to as an augmented representation for structure learning methods, leading to improvement in both the quality of inferred structures and posterior uncertainty. Experimental results also demonstrate the improved representational capacity of TRUST, outperforming competing methods on conditional query answering.

Tue 19 July 8:30 - 8:35 PDT

DNA: Domain Generalization with Diversified Neural Averaging

Xu Chu · Yujie Jin · Wenwu Zhu · Yasha Wang · Xin Wang · Shanghang Zhang · Hong Mei

The inaccessibility of the target domain data causes domain generalization (DG) methods prone to forget target discriminative features, and challenges the pervasive theme in existing literature in pursuing a single classifier with an ideal joint risk. In contrast, this paper investigates model misspecification and attempts to bridge DG with classifier ensemble theoretically and methodologically. By introducing a pruned Jensen-Shannon (PJS) loss, we show that the target square-root risk w.r.t. the PJS loss of the $\rho$-ensemble (the averaged classifier weighted by a quasi-posterior $\rho$) is bounded by the averaged source square-root risk of the Gibbs classifiers. We derive a tighter bound by enforcing a positive principled diversity measure of the classifiers. We give a PAC-Bayes upper bound on the target square-root risk of the $\rho$-ensemble. Methodologically, we propose a diversified neural averaging (DNA) method for DG, which optimizes the proposed PAC-Bayes bound approximately. The DNA method samples Gibbs classifiers transversely and longitudinally by simultaneously considering the dropout variational family and optimization trajectory. The $\rho$-ensemble is approximated by averaging the longitudinal weights in a single run with dropout shut down, ensuring a fast ensemble with low computational overhead. Empirically, the proposed DNA method achieves the state-of-the-art classification performance on standard DG benchmark datasets.

Tue 19 July 8:35 - 8:40 PDT

Unified Fourier-based Kernel and Nonlinearity Design for Equivariant Networks on Homogeneous Spaces

Yinshuang Xu · Jiahui Lei · Edgar Dobriban · Kostas Daniilidis

We introduce a unified framework for group equivariant networks on homogeneous spaces derived from a Fourier perspective. We consider tensor-valued feature fields, before and after a convolutional layer. We present a unified derivation of kernels via the Fourier domain by leveraging the sparsity of Fourier coefficients of the lifted feature fields. The sparsity emerges when the stabilizer subgroup of the homogeneous space is a compact Lie group. We further introduce a nonlinear activation, via an elementwise nonlinearity on the regular representation after lifting and projecting back to the field through an equivariant convolution. We show that other methods treating features as the Fourier coefficients in the stabilizer subgroup are special cases of our activation. Experiments on $SO(3)$ and $SE(3)$ show state-of-the-art performance in spherical vector field regression, point cloud classification, and molecular completion.

Tue 19 July 8:40 - 8:45 PDT

DynaMixer: A Vision MLP Architecture with Dynamic Mixing

Ziyu Wang · Wenhao Jiang · Yiming Zhu · Li Yuan · Yibing Song · Wei Liu

Recently, MLP-like vision models have achieved promising performances on mainstream visual recognition tasks. In contrast with vision transformers and CNNs, the success of MLP-like models shows that simple information fusion operations among tokens and channels can yield a good representation power for deep recognition models. However, existing MLP-like models fuse tokens through static fusion operations, lacking adaptability to the contents of the tokens to be mixed. Thus, customary information fusion procedures are not effective enough. To this end, this paper presents an efficient MLP-like network architecture, dubbed DynaMixer, resorting to dynamic information fusion. Critically, we propose a procedure, on which the DynaMixer model relies, to dynamically generate mixing matrices by leveraging the contents of all the tokens to be mixed. To reduce the time complexity and improve the robustness, a dimensionality reduction technique and a multi-segment fusion mechanism are adopted. Our proposed DynaMixer model (97M parameters) achieves 84.3\% top-1 accuracy on the ImageNet-1K dataset without extra training data, performing favorably against the state-of-the-art vision MLP models. When the number of parameters is reduced to 26M, it still achieves 82.7\% top-1 accuracy, surpassing the existing MLP-like models with a similar capacity. The code is available at \url{}.

Tue 19 July 8:45 - 8:50 PDT

Channel Importance Matters in Few-Shot Image Classification

Xu Luo · Jing Xu · ZENGLIN Xu

Few-Shot Learning (FSL) requires vision models to quickly adapt to brand-new classification tasks with a shift in task distribution. Understanding the difficulties posed by this task distribution shift is central to FSL. In this paper, we show that a simple channel-wise feature transformation may be the key to unraveling this secret from a channel perspective. When facing novel few-shot tasks in the test-time datasets, this transformation can greatly improve the generalization ability of learned image representations, while being agnostic to the choice of datasets and training algorithms. Through an in-depth analysis of this transformation, we find that the difficulty of representation transfer in FSL stems from the severe channel bias problem of image representations: channels may have different importance in different tasks, while convolutional neural networks are likely to be insensitive, or respond incorrectly to such a shift. This points out a core problem of the generalization ability of modern vision systems which needs further attention in the future.

Tue 19 July 8:50 - 8:55 PDT

Fishr: Invariant Gradient Variances for Out-of-Distribution Generalization

Alexandre Rame · Corentin Dancette · Matthieu Cord

Learning robust models that generalize well under changes in the data distribution is critical for real-world applications. To this end, there has been a growing surge of interest to learn simultaneously from multiple training domains - while enforcing different types of invariance across those domains. Yet, all existing approaches fail to show systematic benefits under controlled evaluation protocols. In this paper, we introduce a new regularization - named Fishr - that enforces domain invariance in the space of the gradients of the loss: specifically, the domain-level variances of gradients are matched across training domains. Our approach is based on the close relations between the gradient covariance, the Fisher Information and the Hessian of the loss: in particular, we show that Fishr eventually aligns the domain-level loss landscapes locally around the final weights. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of Fishr for out-of-distribution generalization. Notably, Fishr improves the state of the art on the DomainBed benchmark and performs consistently better than Empirical Risk Minimization. Our code is available at