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Pattern recognition and classification is a central concern for modern information processing systems. In particular, one key challenge to image and video classification has been that the computational cost of image processing scales linearly with the number of pixels in the image or video. Here we present an intelligent machine (the "active categorical classifier," or ACC) that is inspired by the saccadic movements of the eye, and is capable of classifying images by selectively scanning only a portion of the image. We harness evolutionary computation to optimize the ACC on the MNIST hand-written digit classification task, and provide a proof-of-concept that the ACC works on noisy multi-class data. We further analyze the ACC and demonstrate its ability to classify images after viewing only a fraction of the pixels, and provide insight on future research paths to further improve upon the ACC presented here.

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We consider image transformation problems, where an input image is transformed into an output image. Recent methods for such problems typically train feed-forward convolutional neural networks using a \emph{per-pixel} loss between the output and ground-truth images. Parallel work has shown that high-quality images can be generated by defining and optimizing \emph{perceptual} loss functions based on high-level features extracted from pretrained networks. We combine the benefits of both approaches, and propose the use of perceptual loss functions for training feed-forward networks for image transformation tasks. We show results on image style transfer, where a feed-forward network is trained to solve the optimization problem proposed by Gatys et al in real-time. Compared to the optimization-based method, our network gives similar qualitative results but is three orders of magnitude faster. We also experiment with single-image super-resolution, where replacing a per-pixel loss with a perceptual loss gives visually pleasing results.

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The problem of rare and unknown words is an important issue that can potentially influence the performance of many NLP systems, including both the traditional count-based and the deep learning models. We propose a novel way to deal with the rare and unseen words for the neural network models using attention. Our model uses two softmax layers in order to predict the next word in conditional language models: one predicts the location of a word in the source sentence, and the other predicts a word in the shortlist vocabulary. At each time-step, the decision of which softmax layer to use choose adaptively made by an MLP which is conditioned on the context.~We motivate our work from a psychological evidence that humans naturally have a tendency to point towards objects in the context or the environment when the name of an object is not known.~We observe improvements on two tasks, neural machine translation on the Europarl English to French parallel corpora and text summarization on the Gigaword dataset using our proposed model.

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Most successful information extraction systems operate with access to a large collection of documents. In this work, we explore the task of acquiring and incorporating external evidence to improve extraction accuracy in domains where the amount of training data is scarce. This process entails issuing search queries, extraction from new sources and reconciliation of extracted values, which are repeated until sufficient evidence is collected. We approach the problem using a reinforcement learning framework where our model learns to select optimal actions based on contextual information. We employ a deep Q-network, trained to optimize a reward function that reflects extraction accuracy while penalizing extra effort. Our experiments on two databases -- of shooting incidents, and food adulteration cases -- demonstrate that our system significantly outperforms traditional extractors and a competitive meta-classifier baseline.

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We introduce a guide to help deep learning practitioners understand and manipulate convolutional neural network architectures. The guide clarifies the relationship between various properties (input shape, kernel shape, zero padding, strides and output shape) of convolutional, pooling and transposed convolutional layers, as well as the relationship between convolutional and transposed convolutional layers. Relationships are derived for various cases, and are illustrated in order to make them intuitive.

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Performance of machine learning algorithms depends critically on identifying a good set of hyperparameters. While current methods offer efficiencies by adaptively choosing new configurations to train, an alternative strategy is to adaptively allocate resources across the selected configurations. We formulate hyperparameter optimization as a pure-exploration non-stochastic infinitely many armed bandit problem where a predefined resource like iterations, data samples, or features is allocated to randomly sampled configurations. We introduce Hyperband for this framework and analyze its theoretical properties, providing several desirable guarantees. Furthermore, we compare Hyperband with state-of-the-art methods on a suite of hyperparameter optimization problems. We observe that Hyperband provides speedups of five times to more than an order of magnitude over state-of-the-art Bayesian optimization algorithms on a variety of deep-learning and kernel-based learning problems.

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We address an important problem in sequence-to-sequence (Seq2Seq) learning referred to as copying, in which certain segments in the input sequence are selectively replicated in the output sequence. A similar phenomenon is observable in human language communication. For example, humans tend to repeat entity names or even long phrases in conversation. The challenge with regard to copying in Seq2Seq is that new machinery is needed to decide when to perform the operation. In this paper, we incorporate copying into neural network-based Seq2Seq learning and propose a new model called CopyNet with encoder-decoder structure. CopyNet can nicely integrate the regular way of word generation in the decoder with the new copying mechanism which can choose sub-sequences in the input sequence and put them at proper places in the output sequence. Our empirical study on both synthetic data sets and real world data sets demonstrates the efficacy of CopyNet. For example, CopyNet can outperform regular RNN-based model with remarkable margins on text summarization tasks.

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Many real world graphs, such as the graphs of molecules, exhibit structure at multiple different scales, but most existing kernels between graphs are either purely local or purely global in character. In contrast, by building a hierarchy of nested subgraphs, the Multiscale Laplacian Graph kernels (MLG kernels) that we define in this paper can account for structure at a range of different scales. At the heart of the MLG construction is another new graph kernel, called the Feature Space Laplacian Graph kernel (FLG kernel), which has the property that it can lift a base kernel defined on the vertices of two graphs to a kernel between the graphs. The MLG kernel applies such FLG kernels to subgraphs recursively. To make the MLG kernel computationally feasible, we also introduce a randomized projection procedure, similar to the Nystr\"om method, but for RKHS operators.

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We study nonconvex finite-sum problems and analyze stochastic variance reduced gradient (SVRG) methods for them. SVRG and related methods have recently surged into prominence for convex optimization given their edge over stochastic gradient descent (SGD); but their theoretical analysis almost exclusively assumes convexity. In contrast, we prove non-asymptotic rates of convergence (to stationary points) of SVRG for nonconvex optimization, and show that it is provably faster than SGD and gradient descent. We also analyze a subclass of nonconvex problems on which SVRG attains linear convergence to the global optimum. We extend our analysis to mini-batch variants of SVRG, showing (theoretical) linear speedup due to mini-batching in parallel settings.

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Probabilistic inference algorithms such as Sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) provide powerful tools for constraining procedural models in computer graphics, but they require many samples to produce desirable results. In this paper, we show how to create procedural models which learn how to satisfy constraints. We augment procedural models with neural networks which control how the model makes random choices based on the output it has generated thus far. We call such models neurally-guided procedural models. As a pre-computation, we train these models to maximize the likelihood of example outputs generated via SMC. They are then used as efficient SMC importance samplers, generating high-quality results with very few samples. We evaluate our method on L-system-like models with image-based constraints. Given a desired quality threshold, neurally-guided models can generate satisfactory results up to 10x faster than unguided models.

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We introduce $\mathtt{Katyusha}$, the first direct, primal-only stochastic gradient method that has a provably accelerated convergence rate in convex optimization. In contrast, previous methods are based on dual coordinate descent which are more restrictive, or based on outer-inner loops which make them "blind" to the underlying stochastic nature of the optimization process. $\mathtt{Katyusha}$ is the first algorithm that incorporates acceleration directly into stochastic gradient updates. Unlike previous results, $\mathtt{Katyusha}$ obtains an optimal convergence rate. It also supports proximal updates, non-Euclidean norm smoothness, non-uniform sampling, and mini-batch sampling. When applied to interesting classes of convex objectives, including smooth objectives (e.g., Lasso, Logistic Regression), strongly-convex objectives (e.g., SVM), and non-smooth objectives (e.g., L1SVM), $\mathtt{Katyusha}$ improves the best known convergence rates. The main ingredient behind our result is $\textit{Katyusha momentum}$, a novel "negative momentum on top of momentum" that can be incorporated into a variance-reduction based algorithm and speed it up. As a result, since variance reduction has been successfully applied to a fast growing list of practical problems, our paper suggests that in each of such cases, one had better hurry up and give Katyusha a hug.

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This paper presents a novel approach to recurrent neural network (RNN) regularization. Differently from the widely adopted dropout method, which is applied to \textit{forward} connections of feed-forward architectures or RNNs, we propose to drop neurons directly in \textit{recurrent} connections in a way that does not cause loss of long-term memory. Our approach is as easy to implement and apply as the regular feed-forward dropout and we demonstrate its effectiveness for Long Short-Term Memory network, the most popular type of RNN cells. Our experiments on NLP benchmarks show consistent improvements even when combined with conventional feed-forward dropout.

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Humans have an impressive ability to reason about new concepts and experiences from just a single example. In particular, humans have an ability for one-shot generalization: an ability to encounter a new concept, understand its structure, and then be able to generate compelling alternative variations of the concept. We develop machine learning systems with this important capacity by developing new deep generative models, models that combine the representational power of deep learning with the inferential power of Bayesian reasoning. We develop a class of sequential generative models that are built on the principles of feedback and attention. These two characteristics lead to generative models that are among the state-of-the art in density estimation and image generation. We demonstrate the one-shot generalization ability of our models using three tasks: unconditional sampling, generating new exemplars of a given concept, and generating new exemplars of a family of concepts. In all cases our models are able to generate compelling and diverse samples---having seen new examples just once---providing an important class of general-purpose models for one-shot machine learning.

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A significant weakness of most current deep Convolutional Neural Networks is the need to train them using vast amounts of manu- ally labelled data. In this work we propose a unsupervised framework to learn a deep convolutional neural network for single view depth predic- tion, without requiring a pre-training stage or annotated ground truth depths. We achieve this by training the network in a manner analogous to an autoencoder. At training time we consider a pair of images, source and target, with small, known camera motion between the two such as a stereo pair. We train the convolutional encoder for the task of predicting the depth map for the source image. To do so, we explicitly generate an inverse warp of the target image using the predicted depth and known inter-view displacement, to reconstruct the source image; the photomet- ric error in the reconstruction is the reconstruction loss for the encoder. The acquisition of this training data is considerably simpler than for equivalent systems, requiring no manual annotation, nor calibration of depth sensor to camera. We show that our network trained on less than half of the KITTI dataset (without any further augmentation) gives com- parable performance to that of the state of art supervised methods for single view depth estimation.

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State-of-the-art results of semantic segmentation are established by Fully Convolutional neural Networks (FCNs). FCNs rely on cascaded convolutional and pooling layers to gradually enlarge the receptive fields of neurons, resulting in an indirect way of modeling the distant contextual dependence. In this work, we advocate the use of spatially recurrent layers (i.e. ReNet layers) which directly capture global contexts and lead to improved feature representations. We demonstrate the effectiveness of ReNet layers by building a Naive deep ReNet (N-ReNet), which achieves competitive performance on Stanford Background dataset. Furthermore, we integrate ReNet layers with FCNs, and develop a novel Hybrid deep ReNet (H-ReNet). It enjoys a few remarkable properties, including full-image receptive fields, end-to-end training, and efficient network execution. On the PASCAL VOC 2012 benchmark, the H-ReNet improves the results of state-of-the-art approaches Piecewise, CRFasRNN and DeepParsing by 3.6%, 2.3% and 0.2%, respectively, and achieves the highest IoUs for 13 out of the 20 object classes.

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Gatys et al. recently demonstrated that deep networks can generate beautiful textures and stylized images from a single texture example. However, their methods requires a slow and memory-consuming optimization process. We propose here an alternative approach that moves the computational burden to a learning stage. Given a single example of a texture, our approach trains compact feed-forward convolutional networks to generate multiple samples of the same texture of arbitrary size and to transfer artistic style from a given image to any other image. The resulting networks are remarkably light-weight and can generate textures of quality comparable to Gatys~et~al., but hundreds of times faster. More generally, our approach highlights the power and flexibility of generative feed-forward models trained with complex and expressive loss functions.

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Neural network architectures with memory and attention mechanisms exhibit certain reasoning capabilities required for question answering. One such architecture, the dynamic memory network (DMN), obtained high accuracy on a variety of language tasks. However, it was not shown whether the architecture achieves strong results for question answering when supporting facts are not marked during training or whether it could be applied to other modalities such as images. Based on an analysis of the DMN, we propose several improvements to its memory and input modules. Together with these changes we introduce a novel input module for images in order to be able to answer visual questions. Our new DMN+ model improves the state of the art on both the Visual Question Answering dataset and the \babi-10k text question-answering dataset without supporting fact supervision.

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State-of-the-art named entity recognition systems rely heavily on hand-crafted features and domain-specific knowledge in order to learn effectively from the small, supervised training corpora that are available. In this paper, we introduce two new neural architectures---one based on bidirectional LSTMs and conditional random fields, and the other that constructs and labels segments using a transition-based approach inspired by shift-reduce parsers. Our models rely on two sources of information about words: character-based word representations learned from the supervised corpus and unsupervised word representations learned from unannotated corpora. Our models obtain state-of-the-art performance in NER in four languages without resorting to any language-specific knowledge or resources such as gazetteers.

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Many real-world applications can be described as large-scale games of imperfect information. To deal with these challenging domains, prior work has focused on computing Nash equilibria in a handcrafted abstraction of the domain. In this paper we introduce the first scalable end-to-end approach to learning approximate Nash equilibria without prior domain knowledge. Our method combines fictitious self-play with deep reinforcement learning. When applied to Leduc poker, Neural Fictitious Self-Play (NFSP) approached a Nash equilibrium, whereas common reinforcement learning methods diverged. In Limit Texas Holdem, a poker game of real-world scale, NFSP learnt a strategy that approached the performance of state-of-the-art, superhuman algorithms based on significant domain expertise.

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Model-free reinforcement learning has been successfully applied to a range of challenging problems, and has recently been extended to handle large neural network policies and value functions. However, the sample complexity of model-free algorithms, particularly when using high-dimensional function approximators, tends to limit their applicability to physical systems. In this paper, we explore algorithms and representations to reduce the sample complexity of deep reinforcement learning for continuous control tasks. We propose two complementary techniques for improving the efficiency of such algorithms. First, we derive a continuous variant of the Q-learning algorithm, which we call normalized adantage functions (NAF), as an alternative to the more commonly used policy gradient and actor-critic methods. NAF representation allows us to apply Q-learning with experience replay to continuous tasks, and substantially improves performance on a set of simulated robotic control tasks. To further improve the efficiency of our approach, we explore the use of learned models for accelerating model-free reinforcement learning. We show that iteratively refitted local linear models are especially effective for this, and demonstrate substantially faster learning on domains where such models are applicable.

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