Miscellaneous Aspects of Machine Learning

Room 309

Moderator: Runzhe Wan


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Thu 21 July 7:30 - 7:35 PDT

Estimating Instance-dependent Bayes-label Transition Matrix using a Deep Neural Network

Shuo Yang · Erkun Yang · Bo Han · Yang Liu · Min Xu · Gang Niu · Tongliang Liu

In label-noise learning, estimating the transition matrix is a hot topic as the matrix plays an important role in building statistically consistent classifiers. Traditionally, the transition from clean labels to noisy labels (i.e., clean-label transition matrix (CLTM)) has been widely exploited to learn a clean label classifier by employing the noisy data. Motivated by that classifiers mostly output Bayes optimal labels for prediction, in this paper, we study to directly model the transition from Bayes optimal labels to noisy labels (i.e., Bayes-label transition matrix (BLTM)) and learn a classifier to predict Bayes optimal labels. Note that given only noisy data, it is ill-posed to estimate either the CLTM or the BLTM. But favorably, Bayes optimal labels have less uncertainty compared with the clean labels, i.e., the class posteriors of Bayes optimal labels are one-hot vectors while those of clean labels are not. This enables two advantages to estimate the BLTM, i.e., (a) a set of examples with theoretically guaranteed Bayes optimal labels can be collected out of noisy data; (b) the feasible solution space is much smaller. By exploiting the advantages, we estimate the BLTM parametrically by employing a deep neural network, leading to better generalization and superior classification performance.

Thu 21 July 7:35 - 7:40 PDT

Invariant Ancestry Search

Phillip Bredahl Mogensen · Nikolaj Thams · Jonas Peters

Recently, methods have been proposed that exploit the invariance of prediction models with respect to changing environments to infer subsets of the causal parents of a response variable. If the environments influence only few of the underlying mechanisms, the subset identified by invariant causal prediction (ICP), for example, may be small, or even empty. We introduce the concept of minimal invariance and propose invariant ancestry search (IAS). In its population version, IAS outputs a set which contains only ancestors of the response and is a superset of the output of ICP. When applied to data, corresponding guarantees hold asymptotically if the underlying test for invariance has asymptotic level and power. We develop scalable algorithms and perform experiments on simulated and real data.

Thu 21 July 7:40 - 7:45 PDT

Unaligned Supervision for Automatic Music Transcription in The Wild

Ben Maman · Amit Bermano

Multi-instrument Automatic Music Transcription (AMT), or the decoding of a musical recording into semantic musical content, is one of the holy grails of Music Information Retrieval. Current AMT approaches are restricted to piano and (some) guitar recordings, due to difficult data collection. In order to overcome data collection barriers, previous AMT approaches attempt to employ musical scores in the form of a digitized version of the same song or piece. The scores are typically aligned using audio features and strenuous human intervention to generate training labels. We introduce Note$_{EM}$, a method for simultaneously training a transcriber and aligning the scores to their corresponding performances, in a fully-automated process. Using this unaligned supervision scheme, complemented by pseudo-labels and pitch shift augmentation, our method enables training on in-the-wild recordings with unprecedented accuracy and instrumental variety. Using only synthetic data and unaligned supervision, we report SOTA note-level accuracy of the MAPS dataset, and large favorable margins on cross-dataset evaluations. We also demonstrate robustness and ease of use; we report comparable results when training on a small, easily obtainable, self-collected dataset, and we propose alternative labeling to the MusicNet dataset, which we show to be more accurate. Our project page is available at

Thu 21 July 7:45 - 7:50 PDT

Fourier Learning with Cyclical Data

Yingxiang Yang · Zhihan Xiong · Tianyi Liu · Taiqing Wang · Chong Wang

Many machine learning models for online applications, such as recommender systems, are often trained on data with cyclical properties. These data sequentially arrive from a time-varying distribution that is periodic in time. Existing algorithms either use streaming learning to track a time-varying set of optimal model parameters, yielding a dynamic regret that scales linearly in time; or partition the data of each cycle into multiple segments and train a separate model for each---a pluralistic approach that is computationally and storage-wise expensive.In this paper, we have designed a novel approach to overcome the aforementioned shortcomings. Our method, named "Fourier learning", encodes the periodicity into the model representation using a partial Fourier sequence, and trains the coefficient functions modeled by neural networks. Particularly, we design a Fourier multi-layer perceptron (F-MLP) that can be trained on streaming data with stochastic gradient descent (streaming-SGD), and we derive its convergence guarantees. We demonstrate Fourier learning's better performance with extensive experiments on synthetic and public datasets, as well as on a large-scale recommender system that is updated in real-time, and trained with tens of millions of samples per day.

Thu 21 July 7:50 - 7:55 PDT

Linear Adversarial Concept Erasure

Shaul Ravfogel · Michael Twiton · Yoav Goldberg · Ryan Cotterell

Modern neural models trained on textual data rely on pre-trained representations that emerge without direct supervision. As these representations are increasingly being used in real-world applications, the inability to \emph{control} their content becomes an increasingly important problem. In this work, we formulate the problem of identifying a linear subspace that corresponds to a given concept, and removing it from the representation. We formulate this problem as a constrained, linear minimax game, and show that existing solutions are generally not optimal for this task. We derive a closed-form solution for certain objectives, and propose a convex relaxation that works well for others. When evaluated in the context of binary gender removal, the method recovers a low-dimensional subspace whose removal mitigates bias by intrinsic and extrinsic evaluation. Surprisingly, we show that the method---despite being linear---is highly expressive, effectively mitigating bias in the output layers of deep, nonlinear classifiers while maintaining tractability and interpretability.

Thu 21 July 7:55 - 8:15 PDT

Score Matching Enables Causal Discovery of Nonlinear Additive Noise Models

Paul Rolland · Volkan Cevher · Matthäus Kleindessner · Chris Russell · Dominik Janzing · Bernhard Schölkopf · Francesco Locatello

This paper demonstrates how to recover causal graphs from the score of the data distribution in non-linear additive (Gaussian) noise models. Using score matching algorithms as a building block, we show how to design a new generation of scalable causal discovery methods. To showcase our approach, we also propose a new efficient method for approximating the score's Jacobian, enabling to recover the causal graph. Empirically, we find that the new algorithm, called SCORE, is competitive with state-of-the-art causal discovery methods while being significantly faster.

Thu 21 July 8:15 - 8:20 PDT

Provable Domain Generalization via Invariant-Feature Subspace Recovery

Haoxiang Wang · Haozhe Si · Bo Li · Han Zhao

Domain generalization asks for models trained over a set of training environments to perform well in unseen test environments. Recently, a series of algorithms such as Invariant Risk Minimization (IRM) has been proposed for domain generalization. However, Rosenfeld et al. (2021) shows that in a simple linear data model, even if non-convexity issues are ignored, IRM and its extensions cannot generalize to unseen environments with less than $d_s+1$ training environments, where $d_s$ is the dimension of the spurious-feature subspace. In this paper, we propose to achieve domain generalization with Invariant-feature Subspace Recovery (ISR). Our first algorithm, ISR-Mean, can identify the subspace spanned by invariant features from the first-order moments of the class-conditional distributions, and achieve provable domain generalization with $d_s+1$ training environments under the data model of Rosenfeld et al. (2021). Our second algorithm, ISR-Cov, further reduces the required number of training environments to $O(1)$ using the information of second-order moments. Notably, unlike IRM, our algorithms bypass non-convexity issues and enjoy global convergence guarantees. Empirically, our ISRs can obtain superior performance compared with IRM on synthetic benchmarks. In addition, on three real-world image and text datasets, we show that both ISRs can be used as simple yet effective post-processing methods to improve the worst-case accuracy of (pre-)trained models against spurious correlations and group shifts.

Thu 21 July 8:20 - 8:25 PDT

Subspace Learning for Effective Meta-Learning

Weisen JIANG · James Kwok · Yu Zhang

Meta-learning aims to extract meta-knowledge from historical tasks to accelerate learning on new tasks. Typical meta-learning algorithms like MAML learn a globally-shared meta-model for all tasks. However, when the task environments are complex, task model parameters are diverse and a common meta-model is insufficient to capture all the meta-knowledge. To address this challenge, in this paper, task model parameters are structured into multiple subspaces, and each subspace represents one type of meta-knowledge. We propose an algorithm to learn the meta-parameters (\ie, subspace bases). We theoretically study the generalization properties of the learned subspaces. Experiments on regression and classification meta-learning datasets verify the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm.

Thu 21 July 8:25 - 8:30 PDT

Continual Learning via Sequential Function-Space Variational Inference

Tim G. J Rudner · Freddie Bickford Smith · QIXUAN FENG · Yee-Whye Teh · Yarin Gal

Sequential Bayesian inference over predictive functions is a natural framework for continual learning from streams of data. However, applying it to neural networks has proved challenging in practice. Addressing the drawbacks of existing techniques, we propose an optimization objective derived by formulating continual learning as sequential function-space variational inference. In contrast to existing methods that regularize neural network parameters directly, this objective allows parameters to vary widely during training, enabling better adaptation to new tasks. Compared to objectives that directly regularize neural network predictions, the proposed objective allows for more flexible variational distributions and more effective regularization. We demonstrate that, across a range of task sequences, neural networks trained via sequential function-space variational inference achieve better predictive accuracy than networks trained with related methods while depending less on maintaining a set of representative points from previous tasks.

Thu 21 July 8:30 - 8:35 PDT

Efficient Test-Time Model Adaptation without Forgetting

Shuaicheng Niu · Jiaxiang Wu · Yifan Zhang · Yaofo Chen · Shijian Zheng · Peilin Zhao · Mingkui Tan

Test-time adaptation provides an effective means of tackling the potential distribution shift between model training and inference, by dynamically updating the model at test time. This area has seen fast progress recently, at the effectiveness of handling test shifts. Nonetheless, prior methods still suffer two key limitations: 1) these methods rely on performing backward computation for each test sample, which takes a considerable amount of time; and 2) these methods focus on improving the performance on out-of-distribution test samples and ignore that the adaptation on test data may result in a catastrophic forgetting issue, \ie, the performance on in-distribution test samples may degrade. To address these issues, we propose an efficient anti-forgetting test-time adaptation (EATA) method. Specifically, we devise a sample-efficient entropy minimization loss to exclude uninformative samples out of backward computation, which improves the overall efficiency and meanwhile boosts the out-of-distribution accuracy. Afterward, we introduce a regularization loss to ensure that critical model weights tend to be preserved during adaptation, thereby alleviating the forgetting issue. Extensive experiments on CIFAR-10-C, ImageNet-C, and ImageNet-R verify the effectiveness and superiority of our EATA.

Thu 21 July 8:35 - 8:40 PDT

Gaussian Process Uniform Error Bounds with Unknown Hyperparameters for Safety-Critical Applications

Alexandre Capone · Armin Lederer · Sandra Hirche

Gaussian processes have become a promising tool for various safety-critical settings, since the posterior variance can be used to directly estimate the model error and quantify risk. However, state-of-the-art techniques for safety-critical settings hinge on the assumption that the kernel hyperparameters are known, which does not apply in general. To mitigate this, we introduce robust Gaussian process uniform error bounds in settings with unknown hyperparameters. Our approach computes a confidence region in the space of hyperparameters, which enables us to obtain a probabilistic upper bound for the model error of a Gaussian process with arbitrary hyperparameters. We do not require to know any bounds for the hyperparameters a priori, which is an assumption commonly found in related work. Instead, we are able to derive bounds from data in an intuitive fashion. We additionally employ the proposed technique to derive performance guarantees for a class of learning-based control problems. Experiments show that the bound performs significantly better than vanilla and fully Bayesian Gaussian processes.

Thu 21 July 8:40 - 8:45 PDT

Input Dependent Sparse Gaussian Processes

Bahram Jafrasteh · Carlos Villacampa-Calvo · Daniel Hernandez-Lobato

Gaussian Processes (GPs) are non-parametric models that provide accurate uncertainty estimates. Nevertheless, they have a cubic cost in the number of data instances $N$. To overcome this, sparse GP approximations are used, in which a set of $M \ll N$ inducing points is introduced. The location of the inducing points is learned by considering them parameters of an approximate posterior distribution $q$. Sparse GPs, combined with stochastic variational inference for inferring $q$ have a cost per iteration in $\mathcal{O}(M^3)$. Critically, the inducing points determine the flexibility of the model and they are often located in regions where the latent function changes. A limitation is, however, that in some tasks a large number of inducing points may be required to obtain good results. To alleviate this, we propose here to amortize the computation of the inducing points locations, as well as the parameters of $q$. For this, we use a neural network that receives a data instance as an input and outputs the corresponding inducing points locations and the parameters of $q$. We evaluate our method in several experiments, showing that it performs similar or better than other state-of-the-art sparse variational GPs. However, in our method the number of inducing points is reduced drastically since they depend on the input data. This makes our method scale to larger datasets and have faster training and prediction times.

Thu 21 July 8:45 - 8:50 PDT

AutoIP: A United Framework to Integrate Physics into Gaussian Processes

Da Long · Zheng Wang · Aditi Krishnapriyan · Robert Kirby · Shandian Zhe · Michael Mahoney

Physical modeling is critical for many modern science and engineering applications. From a data science or machine learning perspective, where more domain-agnostic, data-driven models are pervasive, physical knowledge — often expressed as differential equations — is valuable in that it is complementary to data, and it can potentially help overcome issues such as data sparsity, noise, and inaccuracy. In this work, we propose a simple, yet powerful and general framework — AutoIP, for Automatically Incorporating Physics — that can integrate all kinds of differential equations into Gaussian Processes (GPs) to enhance prediction accuracy and uncertainty quantification. These equations can be linear or nonlinear, spatial, temporal, or spatio-temporal, complete or incomplete with unknown source terms, and so on. Based on kernel differentiation, we construct a GP prior to sample the values of the target function, equation related derivatives, and latent source functions, which are all jointly from a multivariate Gaussian distribution. The sampled values are fed to two likelihoods: one to fit the observations, and the other to conform to the equation. We use the whitening method to evade the strong dependency between the sampled function values and kernel parameters, and we develop a stochastic variational learning algorithm. AutoIP shows improvement upon vanilla GPs in both simulation and several real-world applications, even using rough, incomplete equations.