Weekly TMLR digest for Jun 19, 2022

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Accepted papers
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Title: TLDR: Twin Learning for Dimensionality Reduction

Authors: Yannis Kalantidis, Carlos Eduardo Rosar Kos Lassance, Jon Almazán, Diane Larlus

Abstract: Dimensionality reduction methods are unsupervised approaches which learn low-dimensional spaces where some properties of the initial space, typically the notion of “neighborhood”, are preserved. Such methods usually require propagation on large k-NN graphs or complicated optimization solvers. On the other hand, self-supervised learning approaches, typically used to learn representations from scratch, rely on simple and more scalable frameworks for learning. In this paper, we propose TLDR, a dimensionality reduction method for generic input spaces that is porting the recent self-supervised learning framework of Zbontar et al. (2021) to the specific task of dimensionality reduction, over arbitrary representations. We propose to use nearest neighbors to build pairs from a training set and a redundancy reduction loss to learn an encoder that produces representations invariant across such pairs. TLDR is a method that is simple, easy to train, and of broad applicability; it consists of an offline nearest neighbor computation step that can be highly approximated, and a straightforward learning process. Aiming for scalability, we focus on improving linear dimensionality reduction, and show consistent gains on image and document retrieval tasks, e.g. gaining +4% mAP over PCA on ROxford for GeM- AP, improving the performance of DINO on ImageNet or retaining it with a 10× compression.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=86fhqdBUbx

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Title: Clustering units in neural networks: upstream vs downstream information

Authors: Richard D Lange, David Rolnick, Konrad Kording

Abstract: It has been hypothesized that some form of "modular" structure in artificial neural networks should be useful for learning, compositionality, and generalization. However, defining and quantifying modularity remains an open problem. We cast the problem of detecting functional modules into the problem of detecting clusters of similar-functioning units. This begs the question of what makes two units functionally similar. For this, we consider two broad families of methods: those that define similarity based on how units respond to structured variations in inputs ("upstream"), and those based on how variations in hidden unit activations affect outputs ("downstream"). We conduct an empirical study quantifying modularity of hidden layer representations of a collection of feedforward networks trained on classification tasks, across a range of hyperparameters. For each model, we quantify pairwise associations between hidden units in each layer using a variety of both upstream and downstream measures, then cluster them by maximizing their "modularity score" using established tools from network science. We find two surprising results: first, dropout dramatically increased modularity, while other forms of weight regularization had more modest effects. Second, although we observe that there is usually good agreement about clusters within both upstream methods and downstream methods, there is little agreement about the cluster assignments across these two families of methods. This has important implications for representation-learning, as it suggests that finding modular representations that reflect structure in inputs (e.g. disentanglement) may be a distinct goal from learning modular representations that reflect structure in outputs (e.g. compositionality).

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=Euf7KofunK

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New submissions
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Title: Efficient CDF Approximations for Normalizing Flows

Abstract: Normalizing flows model a complex target distribution in terms of a bijective transform operating on a simple base distribution. As such, they enable tractable computation of a number of important statistical quantities, particularly likelihoods and samples. Despite these appealing properties, the computation of more complex inference tasks, such as the cumulative distribution function (CDF) over a complex region (e.g., a polytope) remains challenging. Traditional CDF approximations using Monte-Carlo techniques are unbiased but have unbounded variance and low sample efficiency. Instead, we build upon the diffeomorphic properties of normalizing flows and leverage the divergence theorem to estimate the CDF over a closed region in target space in terms of the flux across its \emph{boundary}, as induced by the normalizing flow. We describe both deterministic and stochastic instances of this estimator: while the deterministic variant iteratively improves the estimate by strategically subdividing the boundary, the stochastic variant provides unbiased estimates. Our experiments on popular flow architectures and UCI benchmark datasets show a marked improvement in sample efficiency as compared to traditional estimators.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=LnjclqBl8R

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Title: Self-supervise, Refine, Repeat: Improving Unsupervised Anomaly Detection

Abstract: Anomaly detection (AD), separating anomalies from normal data, has many applications across domains, from security to healthcare. While most previous works were shown to be effective for cases with fully or partially labeled data, that setting is in practice less common due to labeling being particularly tedious for this task. In this paper, we focus on fully unsupervised AD, in which the entire training dataset, containing both normal and anomalous samples, is unlabeled. To tackle this problem effectively, we propose to improve the robustness of one-class classification trained on self-supervised representations using a data refinement process. Our proposed data refinement approach is based on an ensemble of one-class classifiers (OCCs), each of which is trained on a disjoint subset of training data. Representations learned by self-supervised learning on the refined data are iteratively updated as the data refinement improves. We demonstrate our method on various unsupervised AD tasks with image and tabular data. With a 10% anomaly ratio on CIFAR-10 image data / 2.5% anomaly ratio on Thyroid tabular data, the proposed method outperforms the state-of-the-art one-class classifier by 6.3 AUC and 12.5 average precision / 22.9 F1-score.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=b3v1UrtF6G

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Title: Failure Detection in Medical Image Classification: A Reality Check and Benchmarking Testbed

Abstract: Failure detection in automated image classification is a critical safeguard for clinical deployment. Detected failure cases can be referred to human assessment, ensuring patient safety in computer-aided clinical decision making. Despite its paramount importance, there is insufficient evidence about the ability of state-of-the-art confidence scoring methods to detect test-time failures of classification models in the context of medical imaging. This paper provides a reality check, establishing the performance of in-domain misclassification detection methods, benchmarking 9 confidence scores on 6 medical imaging datasets with different imaging modalities, in multiclass and binary classification settings. Our experiments show that the problem of failure detection is far from being solved. We found that none of the benchmarked advanced methods proposed in the computer vision and machine learning literature can consistently outperform a simple softmax baseline. Our developed testbed facilitates future work in this important area.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=VBHuLfnOMf

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Title: Revisiting Gaussian Neurons for Online Clustering with Unknown Number of Clusters

Abstract: Despite the recent success of artificial neural networks, more biologically plausible learning methods may be needed to resolve the weaknesses of backpropagation trained models such as catastrophic forgetting and adversarial attacks. A novel local learning rule is presented that performs online clustering with an upper limit on the number of clusters to be found rather than a fixed cluster count. Instead of using orthogonal weight or output activation constraints, activation sparsity is achieved by mutual repulsion of lateral Gaussian neurons ensuring that multiple neuron centers cannot occupy the same location in the input domain. An update method is also presented for adjusting the widths of the Gaussian neurons in cases where the data samples can be represented by means and variances. The algorithms were applied on the MNIST and CIFAR-10 datasets to create filters capturing the input patterns of pixel patches of various sizes. The experimental results demonstrate stability in the learned parameters across a large number of training samples.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=h05RLBNweX

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Title: A Free Lunch with Influence Functions? Improving Neural Network Estimates with Concepts from Semiparametric Statistics

Abstract: Parameter estimation in empirical fields is usually undertaken using parametric models, and such models readily facilitate statistical inference. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to be sufficiently flexible to be able to adequately model real-world phenomena, and may yield biased estimates. Conversely, non-parametric approaches are flexible but do not readily facilitate statistical inference and may still exhibit residual bias. We explore the potential for Influence Functions (IFs) to (a) improve initial estimators without needing more data (b) increase model robustness and (c) facilitate statistical inference. We begin with a broad introduction to IFs, and propose a neural network method 'MultiNet', which seeks the diversity of an ensemble using a single architecture. We also introduce variants on the IF update step which we call `MultiStep', and provide a comprehensive evaluation of different approaches. The improvements are found to be dataset dependent, indicating an interaction between the methods used and nature of the data generating process. Our experiments highlight the need for practitioners to check the consistency of their findings, potentially by undertaking multiple analyses with different combinations of estimators. We also show that it is possible to improve existing neural networks for `free', without needing more data, and without needing to retrain them.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=E2lP5gsSsF

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Title: Diffusion Based Representation Learning

Abstract: Diffusion-based methods, represented as stochastic differential equations on a continuous-time domain, have recently proven successful as non-adversarial generative models. Training such models relies on denoising score matching, which can be seen as multi-scale denoising autoencoders. Here, we augment the denoising score matching framework to enable representation learning without any supervised signal. GANs and VAEs learn representations by directly transforming latent codes to data samples. In contrast, the introduced diffusion-based representation learning relies on a new formulation of the denoising score matching objective and thus encodes the information needed for denoising. We illustrate how this difference allows for manual control of the level of details encoded in the representation. Using the same approach, we propose to learn an infinite-dimensional latent code that achieves improvements of state-of-the-art models on semi-supervised image classification. We also compare the quality of learned representations of diffusion score matching with other methods like autoencoder and contrastively trained systems through their performances on downstream tasks.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=rVVgRlDs14

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Title: Probabilistic Autoencoder

Abstract: Principal Component Analysis (PCA) minimizes the reconstruction error given a class of linear models of fixed component dimensionality. Probabilistic PCA adds a probabilistic structure by learning the probability distribution of the PCA latent space weights, thus creating a generative model. Autoencoders (AE) minimize the reconstruction error in a class of nonlinear models of fixed latent space dimensionality and outperform PCA at fixed dimensionality. Here, we introduce the Probabilistic Autoencoder (PAE) that learns the probability distribution of the AE latent space weights using a normalizing flow (NF). The PAE is fast and easy to train and achieves small reconstruction errors, high sample quality, and good performance in downstream tasks. We compare the PAE to Variational AE (VAE), showing that the PAE trains faster, reaches a lower reconstruction error, and produces state-of-the-art sample quality without requiring special tuning parameters or training procedures.
We further demonstrate that the PAE is a powerful model for performing the downstream tasks of probabilistic image reconstruction in the context of Bayesian inference of inverse problems for inpainting and denoising applications. Finally, we identify latent space density from NF as a promising outlier detection metric that achieves state-of-the-art results and outperforms other likelihood-based estimators.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=AEoYjvjKVA

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Title: Birds of a Feather Trust Together: Knowing When to Trust a Classifier via Adaptive Neighborhood Aggregation

Abstract: How do we know when the predictions made by a classifier can be trusted? This is a fundamental problem that also has immense practical applicability, especially in safety-critical areas such as medicine and autonomous driving. The de facto approach of using the classifier's softmax outputs as a proxy for trustworthiness suffers from the over-confidence issue; while the most recent works incur problems such as additional retraining cost and accuracy versus trustworthiness trade-off. In this work, we argue that the trustworthiness of a classifier's prediction for a sample is highly associated with two factors: the sample's neighborhood information and the classifier's output. To combine the best of both worlds, we design a model-agnostic post-hoc approach NeighborAGG to leverage the two essential information via an adaptive neighborhood aggregation. Theoretically, we show that NeighborAGG is a generalized version of a one-hop graph convolutional network, inheriting the powerful modeling ability to capture the varying similarity between samples within each class. We also extend our approach to the closely related task of mislabel detection and provide a theoretical coverage guarantee to bound the false negative. Empirically, extensive experiments on image and tabular benchmarks verify our theory and suggest that NeighborAGG outperforms other methods, achieving state-of-the-art trustworthiness performance.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=p5V8P2J61u

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Title: Im2Painting: Economical Painterly Stylization

Abstract: This paper presents a new approach to stroke optimization for image stylization based on economical paintings. Given an input image, our method generates a set of strokes to approximate the input in a variety of economical artistic styles. The term economy in this paper refers a particular range of paintings that use few brushstrokes or limited time. Inspired by this, and unlike previous methods where a painting requires a large number of brushstrokes, our method is able to paint economical painting styles with fewer brush strokes, just as a skilled artist can effectively capture the essence of a scene with relatively few brush strokes. Moreover, we show effective results using a much simpler architecture than previous gradient-based methods, avoiding the challenges of training control models. Instead, our method learns a direct non-linear mapping from an image to a collection of strokes. Perhaps surprisingly, this produces higher-precision results than previous methods, in addition to style variations that are fast to train on a single GPU.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=ftDtukzgSb

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Title: Representation Ensembling for Synergistic Lifelong Learning with Quasilinear Complexity

Abstract: In biological learning, data are used to improve performance not only on the current task, but also on previously encountered, and as yet unencountered tasks. In contrast, classical machine learning starts from a blank slate, or tabula rasa, using data only for the single task at hand. While typical transfer learning algorithms can improve performance on future tasks, their performance on prior tasks degrades upon learning new tasks (called forgetting). Many recent approaches for continual or lifelong learning have attempted to maintain performance given new tasks. But striving to avoid forgetting sets the goal unnecessarily low: the goal of lifelong learning, whether biological or artificial, should be to improve performance on both past tasks (backward transfer) and future tasks (forward transfer) with any new data. Our key insight is that even though learners trained on other tasks often cannot make useful decisions on the current task (the two tasks may have non-overlapping classes, for example), they may have learned representations that are useful for this task. Thus, although ensembling decisions is not possible, ensembling representations can be beneficial whenever the distributions across tasks are sufficiently similar. Moreover, we can ensemble representations learned independently across tasks in quasilinear space and time. We therefore propose two algorithms: representation ensembles of (1) trees and (2) networks. Both algorithms demonstrate forward and backward transfer in a variety of simulated and real data scenarios, including tabular, image, and spoken, and adversarial tasks. This is in stark contrast to the reference algorithms we compared to, all of which failed to transfer either forward or backward, or both, despite that many of them require quadratic space or time complexity.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=HyPpiKREIb

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Title: Low-Rank Tensor Recovery with Euclidean-Norm-Induced Schatten-p Quasi-Norm Regularization

Abstract: The nuclear norm and Schatten-$p$ quasi-norm are popular rank proxies in low-rank matrix recovery. Unfortunately, computing the nuclear norm or Schatten-$p$ quasi-norm of a tensor is NP-hard, which is a pity for low-rank tensor completion (LRTC) and tensor robust principal component analysis (TRPCA). In this paper, we propose a new class of tensor rank regularizers based on the Euclidean norms of the CP component vectors of a tensor and show that these regularizers are monotonic transformations of tensor Schatten-$p$ quasi-norm. This connection enables us to minimize the Schatten-$p$ quasi-norm in LRTC and TRPCA implicitly. The methods do not use the singular value decomposition and hence scale to big tensors. Moreover, the methods are not sensitive to the choice of initial rank and provide an arbitrarily sharper rank proxy for low-rank tensor recovery compared to nuclear norm. On the other hand, we study the generalization abilities of LRTC with Schatten-$p$ quasi-norm regularization and LRTC with our regularizers. The theorems show that a relatively sharper regularizer leads to a tighter error bound, which is consistent with our numerical results. Numerical results on syhthetic data and real data demonstrate the effectiveness and superiority of our methods compared to baseline methods.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=Grhi800jVz

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Title: Does Entity Abstraction Help Generative Transformers Reason?

Abstract: We study the utility of incorporating entity type abstractions into pre-trained Transformers and test these methods on four NLP tasks requiring different forms of logical reasoning: (1) compositional language understanding with text-based relational reasoning (CLUTRR), (2) abductive reasoning (ProofWriter), (3) multi-hop question answering (HotpotQA), and (4) conversational question answering (CoQA). We propose and empirically explore three ways to add such abstraction: (i) as additional input embeddings, (ii) as a separate sequence to encode, and (iii) as an auxiliary prediction task for the model. Overall, our analysis demonstrates that models with abstract entity knowledge performs better than without it. The best abstraction aware models achieved an overall accuracy of 88.8% and 91.8% compared to the baseline model achieving 62.3% and 89.8% on CLUTRR and ProofWriter respectively. However, for HotpotQA and CoQA, we find that F1 scores improve by only 0.5% on average. Our results suggest that the benefit of explicit abstraction is significant in formally defined logical reasoning settings requiring many reasoning hops, but point to the notion that it is less beneficial for NLP tasks having less formal logical structure.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=9nhmKwLAWV

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Title: Simplifying Node Classification on Heterophilous Graphs with Compatible Label Propagation

Abstract: Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have been predominant for graph learning tasks; however, recent studies showed that a well-known graph algorithm, Label Propagation (LP), combined with a shallow neural network can achieve comparable performance to GNNs in semi-supervised node classification on graphs with high homophily. In this paper, we show that this approach falls short on graphs with low homophily, where nodes often connect to the nodes of the opposite classes. To overcome this, we carefully design a combination of a base predictor with LP algorithm that enjoys a closed-form solution as well as convergence guarantees. Our algorithm first learns the class compatibility matrix and then aggregates label predictions using LP algorithm weighted by class compatibilities. On a wide variety of benchmarks, we show that our approach achieves the leading performance on graphs with various levels of homophily. Meanwhile, it has orders of magnitude fewer parameters and requires less execution time. Empirical evaluations demonstrate that simple adaptations of LP can be competitive in semi-supervised node classification in both homophily and heterophily regimes.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=JBuCfkmKYu

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Title: Logistic Regression Through the Veil of Imprecise Data

Abstract: Logistic regression is a popular supervised learning algorithm used to assess the probability of a variable having a binary label based on some predictive features. Standard methods can only deal with precisely known data; however, many datasets have uncertainties that traditional methods either reduce to a single point or completely disregard. This paper shows that it is possible to include these uncertainties by considering an imprecise logistic regression model using the set of possible models obtained from values within the intervals. This method can clearly express the epistemic uncertainty removed by traditional methods.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=gyCX6UxRI8

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Title: Exploring the Learning Mechanisms of Neural Division Modules

Abstract: Of the four fundamental arithmetic operations (+, -, $\times$, $\div$), division is considered the most difficult for both humans and computers.
In this paper, we show that robustly learning division in a systematic manner remains a challenge even at the simplest level of dividing two numbers. We discover that robustness is greatly effected by the sign, magnitude and distribution of the input. We propose two novel approaches for division which we call the Neural Reciprocal Unit (NRU) and the Neural Multiplicative Reciprocal Unit (NMRU), and present improvements for an existing division module, the Real Neural Power Unit (Real NPU). Experiments in learning division with input redundancy on 225 different Uniform distributed training sets, find that our proposed modifications to the Real NPU obtains an average success of 85.3$\%$ improving over the original by 15.1$\%$. In light of this modification to the Real NPU, our NMRU approach further improves the success rate to 91.6$\%$.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=HjelcW6wio

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