Weekly TMLR digest for Jul 17, 2022

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Accepted papers
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Title: Adversarial Feature Augmentation and Normalization for Visual Recognition

Authors: Tianlong Chen, Yu Cheng, Zhe Gan, Jianfeng Wang, Lijuan Wang, Jingjing Liu, Zhangyang Wang

Abstract: Recent advances in computer vision take advantage of adversarial data augmentation to improve the generalization of classification models. Here, we present an effective and efficient alternative that advocates adversarial augmentation on intermediate feature embeddings, instead of relying on computationally-expensive pixel-level perturbations. We propose $\textbf{A}$dversarial $\textbf{F}$eature $\textbf{A}$ugmentation and $\textbf{N}$ormalization (A-FAN), which ($i$) first augments visual recognition models with adversarial features that integrate flexible scales of perturbation strengths, ($ii$) then extracts adversarial feature statistics from batch normalization, and re-injects them into clean features through feature normalization. We validate the proposed approach across diverse visual recognition tasks with representative backbone networks, including ResNets and EfficientNets for classification, Faster-RCNN for detection, and Deeplab V3+ for segmentation. Extensive experiments show that A-FAN yields consistent generalization improvement over strong baselines across various datasets for classification, detection, and segmentation tasks, such as CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, ImageNet, Pascal VOC2007, Pascal VOC2012, COCO2017, and Cityspaces. Comprehensive ablation studies and detailed analyses also demonstrate that adding perturbations to specific modules and layers of classification/detection/segmentation backbones yields optimal performance. Codes and pre-trained models are available in: https://github.com/VITA-Group/CV_A-FAN.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=2VEUIq9Yff

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Title: Your Policy Regularizer is Secretly an Adversary

Authors: Rob Brekelmans, Tim Genewein, Jordi Grau-Moya, Gregoire Detetang, Markus Kunesch, Shane Legg, Pedro A Ortega

Abstract: Policy regularization methods such as maximum entropy regularization are widely used in reinforcement learning to improve the robustness of a learned policy. In this paper, we unify and extend recent work showing that this robustness arises from hedging against worst-case perturbations of the reward function, which are chosen from a limited set by an implicit adversary. Using convex duality, we characterize the robust set of adversarial reward perturbations under KL- and $\alpha$-divergence regularization, which includes Shannon and Tsallis entropy regularization as special cases. Importantly, generalization guarantees can be given within this robust set. We provide detailed discussion of the worst-case reward perturbations, and present intuitive empirical examples to illustrate this robustness and its relationship with generalization. Finally, we discuss how our analysis complements previous results on adversarial reward robustness and path consistency optimality conditions.

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

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New submissions
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Title: FedShuffle: Recipes for Better Use of Local Work \\ in Federated Learning

Abstract: The practice of applying several local updates before aggregation across clients has been empirically shown to be a successful approach to overcoming the communication bottleneck in Federated Learning (FL).
Such methods are usually implemented by having clients perform one or more epochs of local training per round while randomly reshuffling their finite dataset in each epoch. Data imbalance, where clients have different numbers of local training samples, is ubiquitous in FL applications, resulting in different clients performing different numbers of local updates in each round.
In this work, we propose a general recipe, FedShuffle, that better utilizes the local updates in FL, especially in this regime encompassing random reshuffling and heterogeneity.
FedShuffle is the first local update method with theoretical convergence guarantees that incorporates random reshuffling, data imbalance, and client sampling --- features that are essential in large-scale cross-device FL.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=Lgs5pQ1v30

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Title: Implicit Ensemble Training for Efficient and Robust Multiagent Reinforcement Learning

Abstract: An important issue in competitive multiagent scenarios is the distribution mismatch between training and testing caused by variations in other agents' policies. As a result, policies optimized during training are typically sub-optimal (possibly very poor) in testing. Ensemble training is an effective approach for learning robust policies that avoid significant performance degradation when competing against previously unseen opponents. A large ensemble can improve diversity during the training, which leads to more robust learning. However, the computation and memory requirements increase linearly with respect to the ensemble size, which is not scalable as the ensemble size required for learning robust policy can be quite large. This paper proposes a novel parameterization of a policy ensemble based on a deep latent variable model with a multi-task network architecture, which represents an ensemble of policies implicitly within a single network. Our implicit ensemble training (IET) approach strikes a better trade-off between ensemble diversity and scalability compared to standard ensemble training. We demonstrate in several competitive multiagent scenarios in the board game and robotic domains that our new approach improves robustness against unseen adversarial opponents while achieving higher sample-efficiency and less computation.

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

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Title: Nonparametric Learning of Two-Layer ReLU Residual Units

Abstract: We describe an algorithm that learns two-layer residual units using rectified linear unit (ReLU) activation: suppose the input $\mathbf{x}$ is from a distribution with support space $\mathbb{R}^d$ and the ground-truth generative model is a residual unit of this type, given by $\mathbf{y} = \boldsymbol{B}^\ast\left[\left(\boldsymbol{A}^\ast\mathbf{x}\right)^+ + \mathbf{x}\right]$, where ground-truth network parameters $\boldsymbol{A}^\ast \in \mathbb{R}^{d\times d}$ represent a nonnegative full-rank matrix and $\boldsymbol{B}^\ast \in \mathbb{R}^{m\times d}$ is full-rank with $m \geq d$ and for $\boldsymbol{c} \in \mathbb{R}^d$, $[\boldsymbol{c}^{+}]_i = \max\{0, c_i\}$. We design layer-wise objectives as functionals whose analytic minimizers express the exact ground-truth network in terms of its parameters and nonlinearities. Following this objective landscape, learning residual units from finite samples can be formulated using convex optimization of a nonparametric function: for each layer, we first formulate the corresponding empirical risk minimization (ERM) as a positive semi-definite quadratic program (QP), then we show the solution space of the QP can be equivalently determined by a set of linear inequalities, which can then be efficiently solved by linear programming (LP). We further prove the strong statistical consistency of our algorithm, and demonstrate its robustness and sample efficiency through experimental results on synthetic data and a set of benchmark regression datasets.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=YiOI0vqJ0n

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Title: Online black-box adaptation to generalized target-shift

Abstract: We explore the use of test-time pseudo-labels for online label-shift adaptation when deploying black-box models. Specifically, we focus on settings where predictive models are deployed in new locations (leading to conditional-shift), such that these locations are also associated with differently skewed target distributions (label-shift), a combination more broadly referred to as generalized target-shift. Adapting Bayesian tools, we illustrate empirically that online estimates of label-shift using pseudo-labels can often be beneficial in such settings, even with the conditional-shift associated with different deployment locations, when hyper-parameters are learned on validation sets. We illustrate the potential of this approach on three synthetic and two realistic datasets comprising both classification and regression problems.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=lGi94J2MfH

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Title: Data Consistency for Weakly Supervised Learning

Abstract: In many applications, training machine learning models involves using large amounts of human-annotated data. Obtaining precise labels for the data is expensive. Instead, training with weak supervision provides a low-cost alternative. We propose a novel weak supervision algorithm that processes noisy labels, i.e., weak signals, while also considering features of the training data to produce accurate labels for training. Our method searches over classifiers of the data representation to find plausible labelings. We call this paradigm data consistent weak supervision. A key facet of our framework is that we are able to estimate labels for data examples low or no coverage from the weak supervision. In addition, we make no assumptions about the joint distribution of the weak signals and true labels of the data. Instead, we use weak signals and the data features to solve a constrained optimization that enforces data consistency among the labels we generate. Empirical evaluation of our method on different datasets shows that it significantly outperforms state-of-the-art weak supervision methods on both text and image classification tasks.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=pV4t8VPKa7

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Title: Offline Reinforcement Learning for Traffic Signal Control

Abstract: Traffic signal control is an important problem in urban mobility with a significant potential of economic and environmental impact. While there is a growing interest in Reinforcement Learning (RL) for traffic signal control, the work so far has focussed on learning through simulations which could lead to inaccuracies due to simplifying assumptions. Instead, real experience data on traffic is available and could be exploited at minimal costs. Recent progress in {\em offline} or {\em batch} RL has enabled just that. Model-based offline RL methods, in particular, have been shown to generalize from the experience data much better than others.

We build a model-based learning framework which infers a Markov Decision Process (MDP) from a dataset collected using a cyclic traffic signal control policy that is both commonplace and easy to gather. The MDP is built with pessimistic costs to manage out-of-distribution scenarios using an adaptive shaping of rewards which is shown to provide better regularization compared to the prior related work in addition to being PAC-optimal. Our model is evaluated on a complex signalized roundabout showing that it is possible to build highly performant traffic control policies in a data efficient manner.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=mWklF5xaMI

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Title: Mace: A flexible framework for membership privacy estimation in generative models

Abstract: Generative machine learning models are being increasingly viewed as a way to share sensitive data between institutions. While there has been work on developing differentially private generative modeling approaches, these approaches generally lead to sub-par sample quality, limiting their use in real world applications. Another line of work has focused on developing generative models which lead to higher quality samples but currently lack any formal privacy guarantees. In this work, we propose the first formal framework for membership privacy estimation in generative models. We formulate the membership privacy risk as a statistical divergence between training samples and hold-out samples, and propose sample-based methods to estimate this divergence. Compared to previous works, our framework makes more realistic and flexible assumptions. First, we offer a generalizable metric as an alternative to the accuracy metric (Yeom et al., 2018; Hayes et al., 2019) especially for imbalanced datasets. Second, we loosen the assumption of having full access to the underlying distribution from previous studies (Yeom et al., 2018; Jayaraman et al., 2020), and propose sample-based estimations with theoretical guarantees. Third, along with the population-level membership privacy risk estimation via the optimal membership advantage, we offer the individual-level estimation via the individual privacy risk. Fourth, our framework allows adversaries to access the trained model via a customized query, while prior works require specific attributes (Hayes et al., 2019; Chen et al., 2019; Hilprecht et al., 2019).

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=Zxm0kNe3u7

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Title: Degradation Attacks on Certifiably Robust Neural Networks

Abstract: Certifiably robust neural networks protect against adversarial examples by employing provable run-time defenses that check if the model is locally robust at the input under evaluation. We show through examples and experiments that any defense (whether complete or incomplete) based on checking local robustness is inherently over-cautious. Specifically, such defenses flag inputs for which local robustness checks fail, but yet that are not adversarial; i.e., they are classified consistently with all valid inputs within a distance of $\epsilon$. As a result, while a norm-bounded adversary cannot change the classification of an input, it can use norm-bounded changes to degrade the utility of certifiably robust networks by forcing them to reject otherwise correctly classifiable inputs. We empirically demonstrate the efficacy of such attacks against state-of-the-art certifiable defenses.


URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=P0XO5ZE98j

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Title: Prior and Posterior Networks: A Survey on Evidential Deep Learning Methods For Uncertainty Estimation

Abstract: Popular approaches for quantifying predictive uncertainty in deep neural networks often involve multiple sets of weights or models, for instance, via ensembling or Monte Carlo dropout. These techniques usually incur overhead by having to train multiple model instances or do not produce very diverse predictions. This survey aims to familiarize the reader with an alternative class of models based on the concept of Evidential Deep Learning: For unfamiliar data, they admit “what they don’t know” and fall back onto a prior belief. Furthermore, they allow uncertainty estimation in a single model and forward pass by parameterizing distributions over distributions. This survey recapitulates existing works, focusing on the implementation in a classification setting, before surveying the application of the same paradigm to regression. We also reflect on the strengths and weaknesses compared to each other as well as to more established methods and provide the most central theoretical results using a unified notation in order to aid future research.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=1HVpTXwZxK

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Title: GemNet-OC: Developing Graph Neural Networks for Large and Diverse Molecular Simulation Datasets

Abstract: Recent years have seen the advent of molecular simulation datasets that are orders of magnitude larger and more diverse. These new datasets differ substantially in four aspects of complexity: 1. Chemical diversity (number of different elements), 2. system size (number of atoms per sample), 3. dataset size (number of data samples), and 4. domain shift (similarity of the training and test set).
Despite these large differences, benchmarks on small and narrow datasets remain the predominant method of demonstrating progress in graph neural networks (GNNs) for molecular simulation, likely due to cheaper training compute requirements. This raises the question - does GNN progress on small and narrow datasets translate to these more complex datasets? This work investigates this question by first developing the GemNet-OC model based on the large Open Catalyst 2020 (OC20) dataset. GemNet-OC outperforms the previous state-of-the-art on OC20 by 16% while reducing training time by a factor of 10.
We then compare the impact of 18 model components and hyperparameter choices on performance in multiple datasets. We find that the resulting model would be drastically different depending on the dataset used for making model choices.
To isolate the source of this discrepancy we study six subsets of the OC20 dataset that individually test each of the above-mentioned four dataset aspects. We find that results on the OC-2M subset correlate well with the full OC20 dataset while still being substantially cheaper to train on. Our findings challenge the common practice of developing GNNs solely on small datasets, but highlight ways of maintaining fast development cycles while obtaining generalizable results via moderately-sized, representative datasets such as OC-2M and efficient models such as GemNet-OC.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=u8tvSxm4Bs

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Title: Ex Uno Plures: Splitting One Model into an Ensemble of Subnetworks

Abstract: Monte Carlo (MC) dropout is a simple and efficient ensembling method that can improve the accuracy and confidence calibration of high-capacity deep neural network models. However, MC dropout is not as effective as more compute-intensive methods such as deep ensembles. This performance gap can be attributed to the relatively poor quality of individual models in the MC dropout ensemble and their lack of diversity. These issues can in turn be traced back to the coupled training and substantial parameter sharing of the dropout models. Motivated by this perspective, we propose a strategy to compute an ensemble of subnetworks, each corresponding to a non-overlapping dropout mask computed via a pruning strategy and trained independently. We show that the proposed subnetwork ensembling method can perform as well as standard deep ensembles in both accuracy and uncertainty estimates, yet with a computational efficiency similar to MC dropout. Lastly, using several computer vision datasets like CIFAR10/100, CUB200, and Tiny-Imagenet, we experimentally demonstrate that subnetwork ensembling also consistently outperforms recently proposed approaches that efficiently ensemble neural networks.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=OttQCgdH5b

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Title: A Unified Survey on Anomaly, Novelty, Open-Set, and Out of-Distribution Detection: Solutions and Future Challenges

Abstract: Machine learning models often encounter samples that are diverged from the training distribution. Failure to recognize an out-of-distribution (OOD) sample, and consequently assign that sample to an in-class label, significantly compromises the reliability of a model. The problem has gained significant attention due to its importance for safety deploying models in open-world settings. Detecting OOD samples is challenging due to the intractability of modeling all possible unknown distributions. To date, several research domains tackle
the problem of detecting unfamiliar samples, including anomaly detection, novelty detection, one-class learning, open set recognition, and out-of-distribution detection. Despite having similar and shared concepts, out-of-distribution, open-set, and anomaly detection
have been investigated independently. Accordingly, these research avenues have not crosspollinated, creating research barriers. While some surveys intend to provide an overview of these approaches, they seem to only focus on a specific domain without examining the
relationship between different domains. This survey aims to provide a cross-domain and comprehensive review of numerous eminent works in respective areas while identifying their commonalities. Researchers can benefit from the overview of research advances in different fields and develop future methodology synergistically. Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, while there are surveys in anomaly detection or one-class learning, there is no comprehensive or up-to-date survey on out-of-distribution detection, which this survey covers extensively. Finally, having a unified cross-domain perspective, this study discusses and sheds light on future lines of research, intending to bring these fields closer together.

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

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Title: Towards a Deeper Understanding of Adversarial Losses

Abstract: Recent years have seen adversarial losses been applied to many fields. Their applications extend beyond the originally proposed generative modeling to conditional generative and discriminative settings. While prior work has proposed various activation functions and regularization approaches, some open questions still remain unanswered. In this paper, we aim to study the following two research questions: 1) What types of activation functions form a well-behaved adversarial loss? 2) How different combinations of activation functions and regularization approaches perform empirically against one another? To answer the first question, we adopt the perspective of variational divergence minimization and consider an adversarial loss well-behaved if it behaves as a divergence-like measure between the data and model distributions. Using a generalized formulation for adversarial losses, we derive the necessary and sufficient conditions of a well-behaved adversarial loss. Our analysis reveals a large class of theoretically valid adversarial losses. For the second question, we propose a simple comparative framework for adversarial losses using discriminative adversarial networks. The proposed framework allows us to efficiently evaluate adversarial losses using a standard evaluation metric such as the classification accuracy. With the proposed framework, we evaluate a comprehensive set of 168 combinations of twelve activation functions and fourteen regularization approaches on the handwritten digit classification problem to decouple their effects. Our empirical findings suggest that there is no single winning combination of activation functions and regularization approaches across all settings. Our theoretical and empirical results may together serve as a reference for choosing or designing adversarial losses in future research.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=U9InOfOQcf

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Title: ZerO Initialization: Initializing Neural Networks with only Zeros and Ones

Abstract: Deep neural networks are usually initialized with random weights, with adequately selected initial variance to ensure stable signal propagation during training. However, selecting the appropriate variance becomes challenging especially as the number of layers grows. In this work, we replace random weight initialization with a fully deterministic initialization scheme, viz., ZerO, which initializes the weights of networks with only zeros and ones, based on (deterministic) identity and Hadamard transforms. Through both theoretical and empirical studies, we demonstrate that ZerO is able to train networks without damaging their expressivity. Applying ZerO on ResNet achieves state-of-the-art performance on various datasets, including ImageNet, which suggests random weights may be unnecessary for network initialization. In addition, ZerO has many benefits, such as training ultra deep networks (without batch-normalization), exhibiting low-rank learning trajectories that result in low-rank and sparse solutions, and improving training reproducibility.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=1AxQpKmiTc

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Title: Deep Learning for Bayesian Optimization of Scientific Problems with High-Dimensional Structure

Abstract: Bayesian optimization (BO) is a popular paradigm for global optimization of expensive black-box functions, but there are many domains where the function is not completely a black-box. The data may have some known structure (e.g.\ symmetries) and/or the data generation process may be a composite process that yields useful intermediate or auxiliary information in addition to the value of the optimization objective. However, surrogate models traditionally employed in BO, such as Gaussian Processes (GPs), scale poorly with dataset size and do not easily accommodate known structure. Instead, we use Bayesian neural networks, a class of scalable and flexible surrogate models with inductive biases, to extend BO to complex, structured problems with high dimensionality. We demonstrate BO on a number of realistic problems in physics and chemistry, including topology optimization of photonic crystal materials using convolutional neural networks, and chemical property optimization of molecules using graph neural networks. On these complex tasks, we show that neural networks often outperform GPs as surrogate models for BO in terms of both sampling efficiency and computational cost.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=tPMQ6Je2rB

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Title: Bayesian Methods for Constraint Inference in Reinforcement Learning

Abstract: Learning constraints from demonstrations provides a natural and efficient way to improve the safety of AI systems; however, prior work only considers learning a single, point-estimate of the constraints. By contrast, we consider the problem of inferring constraints from demonstrations using a Bayesian perspective. We propose Bayesian Inverse Constraint Reinforcement Learning (BICRL), a novel approach that infers a posterior probability distribution over constraints from demonstrated trajectories. The main advantages of BICRL, compared to prior constraint inference algorithms, are (1) the freedom to infer constraints from partial trajectories and even from disjoint state-action pairs, (2) the ability to infer constraints from suboptimal demonstrations and in stochastic environments, and (3) the opportunity to use the posterior distribution over constraints in order to implement active learning and robust policy optimization techniques. We show that BICRL outperforms pre-existing constraint learning approaches, leading to more accurate constraint inference and consequently safer policies. We further propose Hierarchical BICRL that infers constraints locally in sub-spaces of the entire domain and then composes global constraint estimates leading to accurate and computationally efficient estimation.

URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=oRjk5V9eDp

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