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Papers


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Contextual Memory Trees

Wen Sun, Alina Beygelzimer, Hal Daumé III, John Langford, Paul Mineiro

We design and study a Contextual Memory Tree (CMT), a learning memory controller that inserts new memories into an experience store of unbounded size. It is designed to efficiently query for memories from that store, supporting logarithmic time insertion and retrieval operations. Hence CMT can be integrated into existing statistical learning algorithms as an augmented memory unit without substantially increasing training and inference computation. We demonstrate the efficacy of CMT by augmenting existing multi-class and multi-label classification algorithms with CMT and observe statistical improvement. We also test CMT learning on several image-captioning tasks to demonstrate that it performs computationally better than a simple nearest neighbors memory system while benefitting from reward learning.

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Pangloss: Fast Entity Linking in Noisy Text Environments

Michael Conover, Matthew Hayes, Scott Blackburn, Pete Skomoroch, Sam Shah

Entity linking is the task of mapping potentially ambiguous terms in text to their constituent entities in a knowledge base like Wikipedia. This is useful for organizing content, extracting structured data from textual documents, and in machine learning relevance applications like semantic search, knowledge graph construction, and question answering. Traditionally, this work has focused on text that has been well-formed, like news articles, but in common real world datasets such as messaging, resumes, or short-form social media, non-grammatical, loosely-structured text adds a new dimension to this problem. This paper presents Pangloss, a production system for entity disambiguation on noisy text. Pangloss combines a probabilistic linear-time key phrase identification algorithm with a semantic similarity engine based on context-dependent document embeddings to achieve better than state-of-the-art results (>5% in F1) compared to other research or commercially available systems. In addition, Pangloss leverages a local embedded database with a tiered architecture to house its statistics and metadata, which allows rapid disambiguation in streaming contexts and on-device disambiguation in low-memory environments such as mobile phones.

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Deep Clustering for Unsupervised Learning of Visual Features

Mathilde Caron, Piotr Bojanowski, Armand Joulin, Matthijs Douze

Clustering is a class of unsupervised learning methods that has been extensively applied and studied in computer vision. Little work has been done to adapt it to the end-to-end training of visual features on large scale datasets. In this work, we present DeepCluster, a clustering method that jointly learns the parameters of a neural network and the cluster assignments of the resulting features. DeepCluster iteratively groups the features with a standard clustering algorithm, k-means, and uses the subsequent assignments as supervision to update the weights of the network. We apply DeepCluster to the unsupervised training of convolutional neural networks on large datasets like ImageNet and YFCC100M. The resulting model outperforms the current state of the art by a significant margin on all the standard benchmarks.

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Troubling Trends in Machine Learning Scholarship

Zachary C. Lipton, Jacob Steinhardt

Collectively, machine learning (ML) researchers are engaged in the creation and dissemination of knowledge about data-driven algorithms. In a given paper, researchers might aspire to any subset of the following goals, among others: to theoretically characterize what is learnable, to obtain understanding through empirically rigorous experiments, or to build a working system that has high predictive accuracy. While determining which knowledge warrants inquiry may be subjective, once the topic is fixed, papers are most valuable to the community when they act in service of the reader, creating foundational knowledge and communicating as clearly as possible. Recent progress in machine learning comes despite frequent departures from these ideals. In this paper, we focus on the following four patterns that appear to us to be trending in ML scholarship: (i) failure to distinguish between explanation and speculation; (ii) failure to identify the sources of empirical gains, e.g., emphasizing unnecessary modifications to neural architectures when gains actually stem from hyper-parameter tuning; (iii) mathiness: the use of mathematics that obfuscates or impresses rather than clarifies, e.g., by confusing technical and non-technical concepts; and (iv) misuse of language, e.g., by choosing terms of art with colloquial connotations or by overloading established technical terms. While the causes behind these patterns are uncertain, possibilities include the rapid expansion of the community, the consequent thinness of the reviewer pool, and the often-misaligned incentives between scholarship and short-term measures of success (e.g., bibliometrics, attention, and entrepreneurial opportunity). While each pattern offers a corresponding remedy (don't do it), we also discuss some speculative suggestions for how the community might combat these trends.

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Neural Processes

Marta Garnelo, Jonathan Schwarz, Dan Rosenbaum, Fabio Viola, Danilo J. Rezende, S. M. Ali Eslami, Yee Whye Teh

A neural network (NN) is a parameterised function that can be tuned via gradient descent to approximate a labelled collection of data with high precision. A Gaussian process (GP), on the other hand, is a probabilistic model that defines a distribution over possible functions, and is updated in light of data via the rules of probabilistic inference. GPs are probabilistic, data-efficient and flexible, however they are also computationally intensive and thus limited in their applicability. We introduce a class of neural latent variable models which we call Neural Processes (NPs), combining the best of both worlds. Like GPs, NPs define distributions over functions, are capable of rapid adaptation to new observations, and can estimate the uncertainty in their predictions. Like NNs, NPs are computationally efficient during training and evaluation but also learn to adapt their priors to data. We demonstrate the performance of NPs on a range of learning tasks, including regression and optimisation, and compare and contrast with related models in the literature.

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Conditional Neural Processes

Marta Garnelo, Dan Rosenbaum, Chris J. Maddison, Tiago Ramalho, David Saxton, Murray Shanahan, Yee Whye Teh, Danilo J. Rezende, S. M. Ali Eslami

Deep neural networks excel at function approximation, yet they are typically trained from scratch for each new function. On the other hand, Bayesian methods, such as Gaussian Processes (GPs), exploit prior knowledge to quickly infer the shape of a new function at test time. Yet GPs are computationally expensive, and it can be hard to design appropriate priors. In this paper we propose a family of neural models, Conditional Neural Processes (CNPs), that combine the benefits of both. CNPs are inspired by the flexibility of stochastic processes such as GPs, but are structured as neural networks and trained via gradient descent. CNPs make accurate predictions after observing only a handful of training data points, yet scale to complex functions and large datasets. We demonstrate the performance and versatility of the approach on a range of canonical machine learning tasks, including regression, classification and image completion.

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The challenge of realistic music generation: modelling raw audio at scale

Sander Dieleman, Aäron van den Oord, Karen Simonyan

Realistic music generation is a challenging task. When building generative models of music that are learnt from data, typically high-level representations such as scores or MIDI are used that abstract away the idiosyncrasies of a particular performance. But these nuances are very important for our perception of musicality and realism, so in this work we embark on modelling music in the raw audio domain. It has been shown that autoregressive models excel at generating raw audio waveforms of speech, but when applied to music, we find them biased towards capturing local signal structure at the expense of modelling long-range correlations. This is problematic because music exhibits structure at many different timescales. In this work, we explore autoregressive discrete autoencoders (ADAs) as a means to enable autoregressive models to capture long-range correlations in waveforms. We find that they allow us to unconditionally generate piano music directly in the raw audio domain, which shows stylistic consistency across tens of seconds.

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The Physics of baking good Pizza

Andrey Varlamov, Andreas Glatz, Sergio Grasso

Physical principles are involved in almost any aspect of cooking. Here we analyze the specific process of baking pizzas, deriving in simple terms the baking times for two different situations: For a brick oven in a pizzeria and a modern metallic oven at home. Our study is based on basic thermodynamic principles relevant to the cooking process and is accessible to undergraduate students. We start with a historical overview of the development and art of pizza baking, illustrate the underlying physics by some simple common examples, and then apply them in detail to the example of baking pizza.

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StructVAE: Tree-structured Latent Variable Models for Semi-supervised Semantic Parsing

Pengcheng Yin, Chunting Zhou, Junxian He, Graham Neubig

Semantic parsing is the task of transducing natural language (NL) utterances into formal meaning representations (MRs), commonly represented as tree structures. Annotating NL utterances with their corresponding MRs is expensive and time-consuming, and thus the limited availability of labeled data often becomes the bottleneck of data-driven, supervised models. We introduce StructVAE, a variational auto-encoding model for semisupervised semantic parsing, which learns both from limited amounts of parallel data, and readily-available unlabeled NL utterances. StructVAE models latent MRs not observed in the unlabeled data as tree-structured latent variables. Experiments on semantic parsing on the ATIS domain and Python code generation show that with extra unlabeled data, StructVAE outperforms strong supervised models.

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A Probabilistic U-Net for Segmentation of Ambiguous Images

Simon A. A. Kohl, Bernardino Romera-Paredes, Clemens Meyer, Jeffrey De Fauw, Joseph R. Ledsam, Klaus H. Maier-Hein, S. M. Ali Eslami, Danilo Jimenez Rezende, Olaf Ronneberger

Many real-world vision problems suffer from inherent ambiguities. In clinical applications for example, it might not be clear from a CT scan alone which particular region is cancer tissue. Therefore a group of graders typically produces a set of diverse but plausible segmentations. We consider the task of learning a distribution over segmentations given an input. To this end we propose a generative segmentation model based on a combination of a U-Net with a conditional variational autoencoder that is capable of efficiently producing an unlimited number of plausible hypotheses. We show on a lung abnormalities segmentation task and on a Cityscapes segmentation task that our model reproduces the possible segmentation variants as well as the frequencies with which they occur, doing so significantly better than published approaches. These models could have a high impact in real-world applications, such as being used as clinical decision-making algorithms accounting for multiple plausible semantic segmentation hypotheses to provide possible diagnoses and recommend further actions to resolve the present ambiguities.

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Opportunities in Machine Learning for Healthcare

Marzyeh Ghassemi, Tristan Naumann, Peter Schulam, Andrew L. Beam, Rajesh Ranganath

Healthcare is a natural arena for the application of machine learning, especially as modern electronic health records (EHRs) provide increasingly large amounts of data to answer clinically meaningful questions. However, clinical data and practice present unique challenges that complicate the use of common methodologies. This article serves as a primer on addressing these challenges and highlights opportunities for members of the machine learning and data science communities to contribute to this growing domain.

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Learning a Latent Space of Multitrack Measures

Ian Simon, Adam Roberts, Colin Raffel, Jesse Engel, Curtis Hawthorne, Douglas Eck

Discovering and exploring the underlying structure of multi-instrumental music using learning-based approaches remains an open problem. We extend the recent MusicVAE model to represent multitrack polyphonic measures as vectors in a latent space. Our approach enables several useful operations such as generating plausible measures from scratch, interpolating between measures in a musically meaningful way, and manipulating specific musical attributes. We also introduce chord conditioning, which allows all of these operations to be performed while keeping harmony fixed, and allows chords to be changed while maintaining musical "style". By generating a sequence of measures over a predefined chord progression, our model can produce music with convincing long-term structure. We demonstrate that our latent space model makes it possible to intuitively control and generate musical sequences with rich instrumentation (see https://goo.gl/s2N7dV for generated audio).

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Variational Measure Preserving Flows

Yichuan Zhang, Jose Miguel Hernandez-Lobato, Zoubin Ghahramani

Probabilistic modelling is a general and elegant framework to capture the uncertainty, ambiguity and diversity of hidden structures in data. Probabilistic inference is the key operation on probabilistic models to obtain the distribution over the latent representations given data. Unfortunately, the computation of inference on complex models is extremely challenging. In spite of the success of existing inference methods, like Markov chain Monte Carlo(MCMC) and variational inference(VI), many powerful models are not available for large scale problems because inference is simply computationally intractable. The recent advances in using neural networks for probabilistic inference have shown promising results on this challenge. In this work, we propose a novel general inference framework that has the strength from both MCMC and VI. The proposed method is not only computationally scalable and efficient, but also has its root from the ergodicity theorem, that provides the guarantee of better performance with more computational power. Our experiment results suggest that our method can outperform state-of-the-art methods on generative models and Bayesian neural networks on some popular benchmark problems.

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Model Selection in Time Series Analysis: Using Information Criteria as an Alternative to Hypothesis Testing

R. Scott Hacker, Abdulnasser Hatemi-J

The issue of model selection in applied research is of vital importance. Since the true model in such research is not known, which model should be used from among various potential ones is an empirical question. There might exist several competitive models. A typical approach to dealing with this is classic hypothesis testing using an arbitrarily chosen significance level based on the underlying assumption that a true null hypothesis exists. In this paper we investigate how successful this approach is in determining the correct model for different data generating processes using time series data. An alternative approach based on more formal model selection techniques using an information criterion or cross-validation is suggested and evaluated in the time series environment via Monte Carlo experiments. This paper also explores the effectiveness of deciding what type of general relation exists between two variables (e.g. relation in levels or relation in first differences) using various strategies based on hypothesis testing and on information criteria with the presence or absence of unit roots.

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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 https://youtu.be/qWKUFK7MWvg

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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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