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Implicit Reparameterization Gradients

Michael Figurnov, Shakir Mohamed, Andriy Mnih

By providing a simple and efficient way of computing low-variance gradients of continuous random variables, the reparameterization trick has become the technique of choice for training a variety of latent variable models. However, it is not applicable to a number of important continuous distributions. We introduce an alternative approach to computing reparameterization gradients based on implicit differentiation and demonstrate its broader applicability by applying it to Gamma, Beta, Dirichlet, and von Mises distributions, which cannot be used with the classic reparameterization trick. Our experiments show that the proposed approach is faster and more accurate than the existing gradient estimators for these distributions.

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Learning Permutations with Sinkhorn Policy Gradient

Patrick Emami, Sanjay Ranka

Many problems at the intersection of combinatorics and computer science require solving for a permutation that optimally matches, ranks, or sorts some data. These problems usually have a task-specific, often non-differentiable objective function that data-driven algorithms can use as a learning signal. In this paper, we propose the Sinkhorn Policy Gradient (SPG) algorithm for learning policies on permutation matrices. The actor-critic neural network architecture we introduce for SPG uniquely decouples representation learning of the state space from the highly-structured action space of permutations with a temperature-controlled Sinkhorn layer. The Sinkhorn layer produces continuous relaxations of permutation matrices so that the actor-critic architecture can be trained end-to-end. Our empirical results show that agents trained with SPG can perform competitively on sorting, the Euclidean TSP, and matching tasks. We also observe that SPG is significantly more data efficient at the matching task than the baseline methods, which indicates that SPG is conducive to learning representations that are useful for reasoning about permutations.

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Neural Factor Graph Models for Cross-lingual Morphological Tagging

Chaitanya Malaviya, Matthew R. Gormley, Graham Neubig

Morphological analysis involves predicting the syntactic traits of a word (e.g. {POS: Noun, Case: Acc, Gender: Fem}). Previous work in morphological tagging improves performance for low-resource languages (LRLs) through cross-lingual training with a high-resource language (HRL) from the same family, but is limited by the strict, often false, assumption that tag sets exactly overlap between the HRL and LRL. In this paper we propose a method for cross-lingual morphological tagging that aims to improve information sharing between languages by relaxing this assumption. The proposed model uses factorial conditional random fields with neural network potentials, making it possible to (1) utilize the expressive power of neural network representations to smooth over superficial differences in the surface forms, (2) model pairwise and transitive relationships between tags, and (3) accurately generate tag sets that are unseen or rare in the training data. Experiments on four languages from the Universal Dependencies Treebank demonstrate superior tagging accuracies over existing cross-lingual approaches.

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Learning to See in the Dark

Chen Chen, Qifeng Chen, Jia Xu, Vladlen Koltun

Imaging in low light is challenging due to low photon count and low SNR. Short-exposure images suffer from noise, while long exposure can induce blur and is often impractical. A variety of denoising, deblurring, and enhancement techniques have been proposed, but their effectiveness is limited in extreme conditions, such as video-rate imaging at night. To support the development of learning-based pipelines for low-light image processing, we introduce a dataset of raw short-exposure low-light images, with corresponding long-exposure reference images. Using the presented dataset, we develop a pipeline for processing low-light images, based on end-to-end training of a fully-convolutional network. The network operates directly on raw sensor data and replaces much of the traditional image processing pipeline, which tends to perform poorly on such data. We report promising results on the new dataset, analyze factors that affect performance, and highlight opportunities for future work. The results are shown in the supplementary video at

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AGI Safety Literature Review

Tom Everitt, Gary Lea, Marcus Hutter

The development of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) promises to be a major event. Along with its many potential benefits, it also raises serious safety concerns (Bostrom, 2014). The intention of this paper is to provide an easily accessible and up-to-date collection of references for the emerging field of AGI safety. A significant number of safety problems for AGI have been identified. We list these, and survey recent research on solving them. We also cover works on how best to think of AGI from the limited knowledge we have today, predictions for when AGI will first be created, and what will happen after its creation. Finally, we review the current public policy on AGI.

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Generative Temporal Models with Spatial Memory for Partially Observed Environments

Marco Fraccaro, Danilo Jimenez Rezende, Yori Zwols, Alexander Pritzel, S. M. Ali Eslami, Fabio Viola

In model-based reinforcement learning, generative and temporal models of environments can be leveraged to boost agent performance, either by tuning the agent's representations during training or via use as part of an explicit planning mechanism. However, their application in practice has been limited to simplistic environments, due to the difficulty of training such models in larger, potentially partially-observed and 3D environments. In this work we introduce a novel action-conditioned generative model of such challenging environments. The model features a non-parametric spatial memory system in which we store learned, disentangled representations of the environment. Low-dimensional spatial updates are computed using a state-space model that makes use of knowledge on the prior dynamics of the moving agent, and high-dimensional visual observations are modelled with a Variational Auto-Encoder. The result is a scalable architecture capable of performing coherent predictions over hundreds of time steps across a range of partially observed 2D and 3D environments.

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Phrase-Based & Neural Unsupervised Machine Translation

Guillaume Lample, Myle Ott, Alexis Conneau, Ludovic Denoyer, Marc'Aurelio Ranzato

Machine translation systems achieve near human-level performance on some languages, yet their effectiveness strongly relies on the availability of large amounts of bitexts, which hinders their applicability to the majority of language pairs. This work investigates how to learn to translate when having access to only large monolingual corpora in each language. We propose two model variants, a neural and a phrase-based model. Both versions leverage automatic generation of parallel data by backtranslating with a backward model operating in the other direction, and the denoising effect of a language model trained on the target side. These models are significantly better than methods from the literature, while being simpler and having fewer hyper-parameters. On the widely used WMT14 English-French and WMT16 German-English benchmarks, our models respectively obtain 27.1 and 23.6 BLEU points without using a single parallel sentence, outperforming the state of the art by more than 11 BLEU points.

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Training a Ranking Function for Open-Domain Question Answering

Phu Mon Htut, Samuel R. Bowman, Kyunghyun Cho

In recent years, there have been amazing advances in deep learning methods for machine reading. In machine reading, the machine reader has to extract the answer from the given ground truth paragraph. Recently, the state-of-the-art machine reading models achieve human level performance in SQuAD which is a reading comprehension-style question answering (QA) task. The success of machine reading has inspired researchers to combine information retrieval with machine reading to tackle open-domain QA. However, these systems perform poorly compared to reading comprehension-style QA because it is difficult to retrieve the pieces of paragraphs that contain the answer to the question. In this study, we propose two neural network rankers that assign scores to different passages based on their likelihood of containing the answer to a given question. Additionally, we analyze the relative importance of semantic similarity and word level relevance matching in open-domain QA.

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Adafactor: Adaptive Learning Rates with Sublinear Memory Cost

Noam Shazeer, Mitchell Stern

In several recently proposed stochastic optimization methods (e.g. RMSProp, Adam, Adadelta), parameter updates are scaled by the inverse square roots of exponential moving averages of squared past gradients. Maintaining these per-parameter second-moment estimators requires memory equal to the number of parameters. For the case of neural network weight matrices, we propose maintaining only the per-row and per-column sums of these moving averages, and estimating the per-parameter second moments based on these sums. We demonstrate empirically that this method produces similar results to the baseline. Secondly, we show that adaptive methods can produce larger-than-desired updates when the decay rate of the second moment accumulator is too slow. We propose update clipping and a gradually increasing decay rate scheme as remedies. Combining these methods and dropping momentum, we achieve comparable results to the published Adam regime in training the Transformer model on the WMT 2014 English-German machine translation task, while using very little auxiliary storage in the optimizer. Finally, we propose scaling the parameter updates based on the scale of the parameters themselves.

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Pose2Seg: Human Instance Segmentation Without Detection

Ruilong Li, Xin Dong, Zixi Cai, Dingcheng Yang, Haozhi Huang, Song-Hai Zhang, Paul L. Rosin, Shi-Min Hu

The general method of image instance segmentation is to perform the object detection first, and then segment the object from the detection bounding-box. More recently, deep learning methods like Mask R-CNN perform them jointly. However, little research takes into account the uniqueness of the "1human" category, which can be well defined by the pose skeleton. In this paper, we present a brand new pose-based instance segmentation framework for humans which separates instances based on human pose, not proposal region detection. We demonstrate that our pose-based framework can achieve similar accuracy to the detection-based approach, and can moreover better handle occlusion, which is the most challenging problem in the detection-based framework.

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Group Normalization

Yuxin Wu, Kaiming He

Batch Normalization (BN) is a milestone technique in the development of deep learning, enabling various networks to train. However, normalizing along the batch dimension introduces problems --- BN's error increases rapidly when the batch size becomes smaller, caused by inaccurate batch statistics estimation. This limits BN's usage for training larger models and transferring features to computer vision tasks including detection, segmentation, and video, which require small batches constrained by memory consumption. In this paper, we present Group Normalization (GN) as a simple alternative to BN. GN divides the channels into groups and computes within each group the mean and variance for normalization. GN's computation is independent of batch sizes, and its accuracy is stable in a wide range of batch sizes. On ResNet-50 trained in ImageNet, GN has 10.6% lower error than its BN counterpart when using a batch size of 2; when using typical batch sizes, GN is comparably good with BN and outperforms other normalization variants. Moreover, GN can be naturally transferred from pre-training to fine-tuning. GN can outperform or compete with its BN-based counterparts for object detection and segmentation in COCO, and for video classification in Kinetics, showing that GN can effectively replace the powerful BN in a variety of tasks. GN can be easily implemented by a few lines of code in modern libraries.

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Generative Multi-Agent Behavioral Cloning

Eric Zhan, Stephan Zheng, Yisong Yue, Patrick Lucey

We propose and study the problem of generative multi-agent behavioral cloning, where the goal is to learn a generative multi-agent policy from pre-collected demonstration data. Building upon advances in deep generative models, we present a hierarchical policy framework that can tractably learn complex mappings from input states to distributions over multi-agent action spaces. Our framework is flexible and can incorporate high-level domain knowledge into the structure of the underlying deep graphical model. For instance, we can effectively learn low-dimensional structures, such as long-term goals and team coordination, from data. Thus, an additional benefit of our hierarchical approach is the ability to plan over multiple time scales for effective long-term planning. We showcase our approach in an application of modeling team offensive play from basketball tracking data. We show how to instantiate our framework to effectively model complex interactions between basketball players and generate realistic multi-agent trajectories of basketball gameplay over long time periods. We validate our approach using both quantitative and qualitative evaluations, including a user study comparison conducted with professional sports analysts.

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Setting up a Reinforcement Learning Task with a Real-World Robot

A. Rupam Mahmood, Dmytro Korenkevych, Brent J. Komer, James Bergstra

Reinforcement learning is a promising approach to developing hard-to-engineer adaptive solutions for complex and diverse robotic tasks. However, learning with real-world robots is often unreliable and difficult, which resulted in their low adoption in reinforcement learning research. This difficulty is worsened by the lack of guidelines for setting up learning tasks with robots. In this work, we develop a learning task with a UR5 robotic arm to bring to light some key elements of a task setup and study their contributions to the challenges with robots. We find that learning performance can be highly sensitive to the setup, and thus oversights and omissions in setup details can make effective learning, reproducibility, and fair comparison hard. Our study suggests some mitigating steps to help future experimenters avoid difficulties and pitfalls. We show that highly reliable and repeatable experiments can be performed in our setup, indicating the possibility of reinforcement learning research extensively based on real-world robots.

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FEVER: a large-scale dataset for Fact Extraction and VERification

James Thorne, Andreas Vlachos, Christos Christodoulopoulos, Arpit Mittal

Unlike other tasks and despite recent interest, research in textual claim verification has been hindered by the lack of large-scale manually annotated datasets. In this paper we introduce a new publicly available dataset for verification against textual sources, FEVER: Fact Extraction and VERification. It consists of 185,441 claims generated by altering sentences extracted from Wikipedia and subsequently verified without knowledge of the sentence they were derived from. The claims are classified as Supported, Refuted or NotEnoughInfo by annotators achieving 0.6841 in Fleiss $\kappa$. For the first two classes, the annotators also recorded the sentence(s) forming the necessary evidence for their judgment. To characterize the challenge of the dataset presented, we develop a pipeline approach using both baseline and state-of-the-art components and compare it to suitably designed oracles. The best accuracy we achieve on labeling a claim accompanied by the correct evidence is 31.87%, while if we ignore the evidence we achieve 50.91%. Thus we believe that FEVER is a challenging testbed that will help stimulate progress on claim verification against textual sources.

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The Surprising Creativity of Digital Evolution: A Collection of Anecdotes from the Evolutionary Computation and Artificial Life Research Communities

Joel Lehman, Jeff Clune, Dusan Misevic, Christoph Adami, Julie Beaulieu, Peter J. Bentley, Samuel Bernard, Guillaume Belson, David M. Bryson, Nick Cheney, Antoine Cully, Stephane Donciuex, Fred C. Dyer, Kai Olav Ellefsen, Robert Feldt, Stephan Fischer, Stephanie Forrest, Antoine Frénoy, Christian Gagneé, Leni Le Goff, Laura M. Grabowski, Babak Hodjat, Laurent Keller, Carole Knibbe, Peter Krcah, Richard E. Lenski, Hod Lipson, Robert MacCurdy, Carlos Maestre, Risto Miikkulainen, Sara Mitri, David E. Moriarty, Jean-Baptiste Mouret, Anh Nguyen, Charles Ofria, Marc Parizeau, David Parsons, Robert T. Pennock, William F. Punch, Thomas S. Ray, Marc Schoenauer, Eric Shulte, Karl Sims, Kenneth O. Stanley, François Taddei, Danesh Tarapore, Simon Thibault, Westley Weimer, Richard Watson, Jason Yosinksi

Biological evolution provides a creative fount of complex and subtle adaptations, often surprising the scientists who discover them. However, because evolution is an algorithmic process that transcends the substrate in which it occurs, evolution's creativity is not limited to nature. Indeed, many researchers in the field of digital evolution have observed their evolving algorithms and organisms subverting their intentions, exposing unrecognized bugs in their code, producing unexpected adaptations, or exhibiting outcomes uncannily convergent with ones in nature. Such stories routinely reveal creativity by evolution in these digital worlds, but they rarely fit into the standard scientific narrative. Instead they are often treated as mere obstacles to be overcome, rather than results that warrant study in their own right. The stories themselves are traded among researchers through oral tradition, but that mode of information transmission is inefficient and prone to error and outright loss. Moreover, the fact that these stories tend to be shared only among practitioners means that many natural scientists do not realize how interesting and lifelike digital organisms are and how natural their evolution can be. To our knowledge, no collection of such anecdotes has been published before. This paper is the crowd-sourced product of researchers in the fields of artificial life and evolutionary computation who have provided first-hand accounts of such cases. It thus serves as a written, fact-checked collection of scientifically important and even entertaining stories. In doing so we also present here substantial evidence that the existence and importance of evolutionary surprises extends beyond the natural world, and may indeed be a universal property of all complex evolving systems.

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Accelerated Methods for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Adam Stooke, Pieter Abbeel

Deep reinforcement learning (RL) has achieved many recent successes, yet experiment turn-around time remains a key bottleneck in research and in practice. We investigate how to optimize existing deep RL algorithms for modern computers, specifically for a combination of CPUs and GPUs. We confirm that both policy gradient and Q-value learning algorithms can be adapted to learn using many parallel simulator instances. We further find it possible to train using batch sizes considerably larger than are standard, without negatively affecting sample complexity or final performance. We leverage these facts to build a unified framework for parallelization that dramatically hastens experiments in both classes of algorithm. All neural network computations use GPUs, accelerating both data collection and training. Our results include using an entire NVIDIA DGX-1 to learn successful strategies in Atari games in single-digit minutes, using both synchronous and asynchronous algorithms.

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A Reductions Approach to Fair Classification

Alekh Agarwal, Alina Beygelzimer, Miroslav Dudík, John Langford, Hanna Wallach

We present a systematic approach for achieving fairness in a binary classification setting. While we focus on two well-known quantitative definitions of fairness, our approach encompasses many other previously studied definitions as special cases. Our approach works by reducing fair classification to a sequence of cost-sensitive classification problems, whose solutions yield a randomized classifier with the lowest (empirical) error subject to the desired constraints. We introduce two reductions that work for any representation of the cost-sensitive classifier and compare favorably to prior baselines on a variety of data sets, while overcoming several of their disadvantages.

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Composable Planning with Attributes

Amy Zhang, Adam Lerer, Sainbayar Sukhbaatar, Rob Fergus, Arthur Szlam

The tasks that an agent will need to solve often are not known during training. However, if the agent knows which properties of the environment are important then, after learning how its actions affect those properties, it may be able to use this knowledge to solve complex tasks without training specifically for them. Towards this end, we consider a setup in which an environment is augmented with a set of user defined attributes that parameterize the features of interest. We propose a method that learns a policy for transitioning between "nearby" sets of attributes, and maintains a graph of possible transitions. Given a task at test time that can be expressed in terms of a target set of attributes, and a current state, our model infers the attributes of the current state and searches over paths through attribute space to get a high level plan, and then uses its low level policy to execute the plan. We show in 3D block stacking, grid-world games, and StarCraft that our model is able to generalize to longer, more complex tasks at test time by composing simpler learned policies.

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Towards end-to-end spoken language understanding

Dmitriy Serdyuk, Yongqiang Wang, Christian Fuegen, Anuj Kumar, Baiyang Liu, Yoshua Bengio

Spoken language understanding system is traditionally designed as a pipeline of a number of components. First, the audio signal is processed by an automatic speech recognizer for transcription or n-best hypotheses. With the recognition results, a natural language understanding system classifies the text to structured data as domain, intent and slots for down-streaming consumers, such as dialog system, hands-free applications. These components are usually developed and optimized independently. In this paper, we present our study on an end-to-end learning system for spoken language understanding. With this unified approach, we can infer the semantic meaning directly from audio features without the intermediate text representation. This study showed that the trained model can achieve reasonable good result and demonstrated that the model can capture the semantic attention directly from the audio features.

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Do WaveNets Dream of Acoustic Waves?

Kanru Hua

Various sources have reported the WaveNet deep learning architecture being able to generate high-quality speech, but to our knowledge there haven't been studies on the interpretation or visualization of trained WaveNets. This study investigates the possibility that WaveNet understands speech by unsupervisedly learning an acoustically meaningful latent representation of the speech signals in its receptive field; we also attempt to interpret the mechanism by which the feature extraction is performed. Suggested by singular value decomposition and linear regression analysis on the activations and known acoustic features (e.g. F0), the key findings are (1) activations in the higher layers are highly correlated with spectral features; (2) WaveNet explicitly performs pitch extraction despite being trained to directly predict the next audio sample and (3) for the said feature analysis to take place, the latent signal representation is converted back and forth between baseband and wideband components.

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