Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content


Probabilistic Methods/MISC

Room 310

Moderator: James Allingham

Chat is not available.

Thu 21 July 10:30 - 10:50 PDT

Stochastic Deep Networks with Linear Competing Units for Model-Agnostic Meta-Learning

Konstantinos Kalais · Sotirios Chatzis

This work addresses meta-learning (ML) by considering deep networks with stochastic local winner-takes-all (LWTA) activations. This type of network units results in sparse representations from each model layer, as the units are organized into blocks where only one unit generates a non-zero output. The main operating principle of the introduced units rely on stochastic principles, as the network performs posterior sampling over competing units to select the winner. Therefore, the proposed networks are explicitly designed to extract input data representations of sparse stochastic nature, as opposed to the currently standard deterministic representation paradigm. Our approach produces state-of-the-art predictive accuracy on few-shot image classification and regression experiments, as well as reduced predictive error on an active learning setting; these improvements come with an immensely reduced computational cost. Code is available at:

Thu 21 July 10:50 - 10:55 PDT

Nonparametric Factor Trajectory Learning for Dynamic Tensor Decomposition

Zheng Wang · Shandian Zhe

Tensor decomposition is a fundamental framework to analyze data that can be represented by multi-dimensional arrays. In practice, tensor data are often accompanied with temporal information, namely the time points when the entry values were generated. This information implies abundant, complex temporal variation patterns. However, current methods always assume the factor representations of the entities in each tensor mode are static, and never consider their temporal evolution. To fill this gap, we propose NONparametric FActor Trajectory learning for dynamic tensor decomposition (NONFAT). We place Gaussian process (GP) priors in the frequency domain and conduct inverse Fourier transform via Gauss-Laguerre quadrature to sample the trajectory functions. In this way, we can overcome data sparsity and obtain robust trajectory estimates across long time horizons. Given the trajectory values at specific time points, we use a second-level GP to sample the entry values and to capture the temporal relationship between the entities. For efficient and scalable inference, we leverage the matrix Gaussian structure in the model, introduce a matrix Gaussian posterior, and develop a nested sparse variational learning algorithm. We have shown the advantage of our method in several real-world applications.

Thu 21 July 10:55 - 11:00 PDT

Nonparametric Embeddings of Sparse High-Order Interaction Events

Zheng Wang · Yiming Xu · Conor Tillinghast · Shibo Li · Akil Narayan · Shandian Zhe

High-order interaction events are common in real-world applications. Learning embeddings that encode the complex relationships of the participants from these events is of great importance in knowledge mining and predictive tasks. Despite the success of existing approaches, e.g. Poisson tensor factorization, they ignore the sparse structure underlying the data, namely the occurred interactions are far less than the possible interactions among all the participants. In this paper, we propose Nonparametric Embeddings of Sparse High-order interaction events (NESH). We hybridize a sparse hypergraph (tensor) process and a matrix Gaussian process to capture both the asymptotic structural sparsity within the interactions and nonlinear temporal relationships between the participants. We prove strong asymptotic bounds (including both a lower and an upper bound ) of the sparse ratio, which reveals the asymptotic properties of the sampled structure. We use batch-normalization, stick-breaking construction and sparse variational GP approximations to develop an efficient, scalable model inference algorithm. We demonstrate the advantage of our approach in several real-world applications.

Thu 21 July 11:00 - 11:05 PDT

Adapting the Linearised Laplace Model Evidence for Modern Deep Learning

Javier AntorĂ¡n · David Janz · James Allingham · Erik Daxberger · Riccardo Barbano · Eric Nalisnick · Jose Miguel Hernandez-Lobato

The linearised Laplace method for estimating model uncertainty has received renewed attention in the Bayesian deep learning community. The method provides reliable error bars and admits a closed-form expression for the model evidence, allowing for scalable selection of model hyperparameters. In this work, we examine the assumptions behind this method, particularly in conjunction with model selection.We show that these interact poorly with some now-standard tools of deep learning--stochastic approximation methods and normalisation layers--and make recommendations for how to better adapt this classic method to the modern setting.We provide theoretical support for our recommendations and validate them empirically on MLPs, classic CNNs, residual networks with and without normalisation layers, generative autoencoders and transformers.

Thu 21 July 11:05 - 11:10 PDT

NOMU: Neural Optimization-based Model Uncertainty

Jakob Heiss · Jakob Weissteiner · Hanna Wutte · Sven Seuken · Josef Teichmann

We study methods for estimating model uncertainty for neural networks (NNs) in regression. To isolate the effect of model uncertainty, we focus on a noiseless setting with scarce training data. We introduce five important desiderata regarding model uncertainty that any method should satisfy. However, we find that established benchmarks often fail to reliably capture some of these desiderata, even those that are required by Bayesian theory. To address this, we introduce a new approach for capturing model uncertainty for NNs, which we call Neural Optimization-based Model Uncertainty (NOMU). The main idea of NOMU is to design a network architecture consisting of two connected sub-NNs, one for model prediction and one for model uncertainty, and to train it using a carefully-designed loss function. Importantly, our design enforces that NOMU satisfies our five desiderata. Due to its modular architecture, NOMU can provide model uncertainty for any given (previously trained) NN if given access to its training data. We evaluate NOMU in various regressions tasks and noiseless Bayesian optimization (BO) with costly evaluations. In regression, NOMU performs at least as well as state-of-the-art methods. In BO, NOMU even outperforms all considered benchmarks.

Thu 21 July 11:10 - 11:30 PDT

Outstanding Paper
Bayesian Model Selection, the Marginal Likelihood, and Generalization

Sanae Lotfi · Pavel Izmailov · Gregory Benton · Micah Goldblum · Andrew Wilson

How do we compare between hypotheses that are entirely consistent with observations? The marginal likelihood (aka Bayesian evidence), which represents the probability of generating our observations from a prior, provides a distinctive approach to this foundational question, automatically encoding Occam's razor. Although it has been observed that the marginal likelihood can overfit and is sensitive to prior assumptions, its limitations for hyperparameter learning and discrete model comparison have not been thoroughly investigated. We first revisit the appealing properties of the marginal likelihood for learning constraints and hypothesis testing. We then highlight the conceptual and practical issues in using the marginal likelihood as a proxy for generalization. Namely, we show how marginal likelihood can be negatively correlated with generalization, with implications for neural architecture search, and can lead to both underfitting and overfitting in hyperparameter learning. We provide a partial remedy through a conditional marginal likelihood, which we show is more aligned with generalization, and practically valuable for large-scale hyperparameter learning, such as in deep kernel learning.

Thu 21 July 11:30 - 11:35 PDT

Fast-Rate PAC-Bayesian Generalization Bounds for Meta-Learning

Jiechao Guan · Zhiwu Lu

PAC-Bayesian error bounds provide a theoretical guarantee on the generalization abilities of meta-learning from training tasks to unseen tasks. However, it is still unclear how tight PAC-Bayesian bounds we can achieve for meta-learning. In this work, we propose a general PAC-Bayesian framework to cope with single-task learning and meta-learning uniformly. With this framework, we generalize the two tightest PAC-Bayesian bounds (i.e., kl-bound and Catoni-bound) from single-task learning to standard meta-learning, resulting in fast convergence rates for PAC-Bayesian meta-learners. By minimizing the derived two bounds, we develop two meta-learning algorithms for classification problems with deep neural networks. For regression problems, by setting Gibbs optimal posterior for each training task, we obtain the closed-form formula of the minimizer of our Catoni-bound, leading to an efficient Gibbs meta-learning algorithm. Although minimizing our kl-bound can not yield a closed-form solution, we show that it can be extended for analyzing the more challenging meta-learning setting where samples from different training tasks exhibit interdependencies. Experiments empirically show that our proposed meta-learning algorithms achieve competitive results with respect to latest works.

Thu 21 July 11:35 - 11:40 PDT

Wide Neural Networks Forget Less Catastrophically

Seyed Iman Mirzadeh · Arslan Chaudhry · Dong Yin · Huiyi Hu · Razvan Pascanu · Dilan Gorur · Mehrdad Farajtabar

A primary focus area in continual learning research is alleviating the "catastrophic forgetting" problem in neural networks by designing new algorithms that are more robust to the distribution shifts. While the recent progress in continual learning literature is encouraging, our understanding of what properties of neural networks contribute to catastrophic forgetting is still limited. To address this, instead of focusing on continual learning algorithms, in this work, we focus on the model itself and study the impact of "width" of the neural network architecture on catastrophic forgetting, and show that width has a surprisingly significant effect on forgetting. To explain this effect, we study the learning dynamics of the network from various perspectives such as gradient orthogonality, sparsity, and lazy training regime. We provide potential explanations that are consistent with the empirical results across different architectures and continual learning benchmarks.

Thu 21 July 11:40 - 11:45 PDT

A Unified View on PAC-Bayes Bounds for Meta-Learning

Arezou Rezazadeh

Meta learning automatically infers an inductivebias, that includes the hyperparameter of the baselearningalgorithm, by observing data from a finitenumber of related tasks. This paper studiesPAC-Bayes bounds on meta generalizationgap. The meta-generalization gap comprises twosources of generalization gaps: the environmentleveland task-level gaps resulting from observationof a finite number of tasks and data samplesper task, respectively. In this paper, by upperbounding arbitrary convex functions, which linkthe expected and empirical losses at the environmentand also per-task levels, we obtain new PAC-Bayesbounds. Using these bounds, we developnew PAC-Bayes meta-learning algorithms. Numericalexamples demonstrate the merits of theproposed novel bounds and algorithm in comparisonto prior PAC-Bayes bounds for meta-learning

Thu 21 July 11:45 - 11:50 PDT

MAML and ANIL Provably Learn Representations

Liam Collins · Aryan Mokhtari · Sewoong Oh · Sanjay Shakkottai

Recent empirical evidence has driven conventional wisdom to believe that gradient-based meta-learning (GBML) methods perform well at few-shot learning because they learn an expressive data representation that is shared across tasks. However, the mechanics of GBML have remained largely mysterious from a theoretical perspective. In this paper, we prove that two well-known GBML methods, MAML and ANIL, as well as their first-order approximations, are capable of learning common representation among a set of given tasks. Specifically, in the well-known multi-task linear representation learning setting, they are able to recover the ground-truth representation at an exponentially fast rate. Moreover, our analysis illuminates that the driving force causing MAML and ANIL to recover the underlying representation is that they adapt the final layer of their model, which harnesses the underlying task diversity to improve the representation in all directions of interest. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first results to show that MAML and/or ANIL learn expressive representations and to rigorously explain why they do so.

Thu 21 July 11:50 - 11:55 PDT

C-MinHash: Improving Minwise Hashing with Circulant Permutation

Xiaoyun Li · Ping Li

Minwise hashing (MinHash) is an important and practical algorithm for generating random hashes to approximate the Jaccard (resemblance) similarity in massive binary (0/1) data. The basic theory of MinHash requires applying hundreds or even thousands of independent random permutations to each data vector in the dataset, in order to obtain reliable results for (e.g.,) building large-scale learning models or approximate near neighbor search. In this paper, we propose Circulant MinHash (C-MinHash) and provide the surprising theoretical results that using only two independent random permutations in a circulant manner leads to uniformly smaller Jaccard estimation variance than that of the classical MinHash with K independent permutations. Experiments are conducted to show the effectiveness of the proposed method. We also propose a more convenient C-MinHash variant which reduces two permutations to just one, with extensive numerical results to validate that it achieves essentially the same estimation accuracy as using two permutations.

Thu 21 July 11:55 - 12:00 PDT

Proximal Denoiser for Convergent Plug-and-Play Optimization with Nonconvex Regularization

Samuel Hurault · Arthur Leclaire · Nicolas Papadakis

Plug-and-Play (PnP) methods solve ill-posed inverse problems through iterative proximal algorithms by replacing a proximal operator by a denoising operation. When applied with deep neural network denoisers, these methods have shown state-of-the-art visual performance for image restoration problems. However, their theoretical convergence analysis is still incomplete. Most of the existing convergence results consider nonexpansive denoisers, which is non-realistic, or limit their analysis to strongly convex data-fidelity terms in the inverse problem to solve. Recently, it was proposed to train the denoiser as a gradient descent step on a functional parameterized by a deep neural network. Using such a denoiser guarantees the convergence of the PnP version of the Half-Quadratic-Splitting (PnP-HQS) iterative algorithm. In this paper, we show that this gradient denoiser can actually correspond to the proximal operator of another scalar function. Given this new result, we exploit the convergence theory of proximal algorithms in the nonconvex setting to obtain convergence results for PnP-PGD (Proximal Gradient Descent) and PnP-ADMM (Alternating Direction Method of Multipliers). When built on top of a smooth gradient denoiser, we show that PnP-PGD and PnP-ADMM are convergent and target stationary points of an explicit functional. These convergence results are confirmed with numerical experiments on deblurring, super-resolution and inpainting.