July 9, 2018

Facebook Research at ICML 2018

By: Meta Research

Machine learning experts from around the world are gathering in Stockholm, Sweden this week for the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) to present the latest advances in machine learning understanding. Research from Facebook will be presented in oral paper and poster sessions. Facebook researchers and engineers will also be organizing and participating in workshops throughout the week.

Facebook research being presented at ICML 2018

Adversarially Regularized Autoencoders
Jake Zhao, Yoon Kim, Kelly Zhang, Alexander Rush and Yann LeCun

Deep latent variable models, trained using variational autoencoders or generative adversarial networks, are now a key technique for representation learning of continuous structures. However, applying similar methods to discrete structures, such as text sequences or discretized images, has proven to be more challenging. In this work, we propose a more flexible method for training deep latent variable models of discrete structures. Our approach is based on the recently proposed Wasserstein Autoencoder (WAE) which formalizes adversarial autoencoders as an optimal transport problem. We first extend this framework to model discrete sequences, and then further explore different learned priors targeting a controllable representation. Unlike many other latent variable generative models for text, this adversarially regularized autoencoder (ARAE) allows us to generate fluent textual outputs as well as perform manipulations in the latent space to induce change in the output space. Finally we show that the latent representation can be trained to perform unaligned textual style transfer, giving improvements both in automatic measures and human evaluation.

Analyzing Uncertainty in Neural Machine Translation
Myle Ott, Michael Auli, David Grangier, Marc’Aurelio Ranzato

Machine translation is a popular test bed for research in neural sequence-to-sequence models but despite much recent research, there is still a lack of understanding of these models. Practitioners report performance degradation with large beams, the under-estimation of rare words and a lack of diversity in the final translations. Our study relates some of these issues to the inherent uncertainty of the task, due to the existence of multiple valid translations for a single source sentence, and to the extrinsic uncertainty caused by noisy training data. We propose tools and metrics to assess how uncertainty in the data is captured by the model distribution and how it affects search strategies that generate translations. Our results show that search works remarkably well but that models tend to spread too much probability mass over the hypothesis space. Next, we propose tools to assess model calibration and show how to easily fix some shortcomings of current models. As part of this study, we release multiple human reference translations for two popular benchmarks.

Canonical Tensor Decomposition for Knowledge Base Completion
Timothee Lacroix, Nicolas Usunier, Guillaume Obozinski

The problem of Knowledge Base Completion can be framed as a 3rd-order binary tensor completion problem. In this light, the Canonical Tensor Decomposition (CP) (Hitchcock, 1927) seems like a natural solution. However, current implementations of CP on standard Knowledge Base Completion benchmarks are lagging behind their competitors. In this work, we attempt to understand the limits of CP for knowledge base completion. First, we motivate and test a novel regularizer, based on tensor nuclear p-norms. Then, we present a reformulation of the problem that makes it invariant to arbitrary choices in the inclusion of predicates or their reciprocals in the dataset. These two methods combined allow us to beat the current state of the art on several datasets with a CP decomposition, and obtain even better results using the more advanced ComplEx model.

Comparing Dynamics: Deep Neural Networks versus Glassy Systems
Marco Baity-Jesi, Levent Sagun, Mario Geiger, Stefano Spigler, Gerard Arous, Chiara Cammarota, Yann LeCun, Matthieu Wyart and Giulio Biroli

We analyze numerically the training dynamics of deep neural networks (DNN) by using methods developed in statistical physics of glassy systems. The two main issues we address are the complexity of the loss-landscape and of the dynamics within it, and to what extent DNNs share similarities with glassy systems. Our findings, obtained for different architectures and data-sets, suggest that during the training process the dynamics slows down because of an increasingly large number of flat directions. At large times, when the loss is approaching zero, the system diffuses at the bottom of the landscape. Despite some similarities with the dynamics of mean-field glassy systems, in particular, the absence of barrier crossing, we find distinctive dynamical behaviors in the two cases, thus showing that the statistical properties of the corresponding loss and energy landscapes are different. In contrast, when the network is under-parametrized we observe a typical glassy behavior, thus suggesting the existence of different phases depending on whether the network is under-parametrized or over-parametrized.

Composable Planning with Attributes
Amy Zhang, Adam Lerer, Sainbayar Sukhbaatar, Rob Fergus, Arthur Szlam

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

Convergent Tree Backup and Retrace with Function Approximation
Ahmed Touati, Pierre-Luc Bacon, Doina Precup, Pascal Vincent

Off-policy learning is key to scaling up reinforcement learning as it allows to learn about a target policy from the experience generated by a different behavior policy. Unfortunately, it has been challenging to combine off-policy learning with function approximation and multi-step bootstrapping in a way that leads to both stable and efficient algorithms. In this work, we show that the TREE BACKUP and RETRACE algorithms are unstable with linear function approximation, both in theory and in practice with specific examples. Based on our analysis, we then derive stable and efficient gradient-based algorithms using a quadratic convex-concave saddle-point formulation. By exploiting the problem structure proper to these algorithms, we are able to provide convergence guarantees and finite-sample bounds. The applicability of our new analysis also goes beyond TREE BACKUP and RETRACE and allows us to provide new convergence rates for the GTD and GTD2 algorithms without having recourse to projections or Polyak averaging.

Efficient Bias-Span-Constrained Exploration-Exploitation in Reinforcement Learning
Ronan Fruit, Matteo Pirotta, Ronald Ortner, Alessandro Lazaric

We introduce SCAL, an algorithm designed to perform efficient exploration-exploitation in any unknown weakly-communicating Markov Decision Process (MDP) for which an upper bound c on the span of the optimal bias function is known. For an MDP with S states, A actions and Γ ≤ S possible next states, we prove a regret bound of Õ(c√ΓS AT), which significantly improves over existing algorithms (e.g., UCRL and PSRL), whose regret scales linearly with the MDP diameter D. In fact, the optimal bias span is finite and often much smaller than D (e.g., D = ∞ in non-communicating MDPs). A similar result was originally derived by Bartlett and Tewari (2009) for REGAL.C, for which no tractable algorithm is available. In this paper, we relax the optimization problem at the core of REGAL.C, we carefully analyze its properties, and we provide the first computationally efficient algorithm to solve it. Finally, we report numerical simulations supporting our theoretical findings and showing how SCAL significantly outperforms UCRL in MDPs with large diameter and small span.

Fitting New Speakers Based on a Short Untranscribed Sample
Eliya Nachmani, Adam Polyak, Yaniv Taigman, Lior Wolf

Learning-based Text To Speech systems have the potential to generalize from one speaker to the next and thus require a relatively short sample of any new voice. However, this promise is currently largely unrealized. We present a method that is designed to capture a new speaker from a short untranscribed audio sample. This is done by employing an additional network that given an audio sample, places the speaker in the embedding space. This network is trained as part of the speech synthesis system using various consistency losses. Our results demonstrate a greatly improved performance on both the dataset speakers, and, more importantly, when fitting new voices, even from very short samples.

Focused Hierarchical RNNs for Conditional Sequence Processing
Nan Ke, Konrad Zolna, Alessandro Sordoni, Zhouhan Lin, Adam Trischler, Yoshua Bengio, Joelle Pineau, Laurent Charlin, Christopher Pal

Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) with attention mechanisms have obtained state-of-the-art results for many sequence processing tasks. Most of these models use a simple form of encoder with attention that looks over the entire sequence and assigns a weight to each token independently. We present a mechanism for focusing RNN encoders for sequence modelling tasks which allows them to attend to key parts of the input as needed. We formulate this using a multi-layer conditional %hierarchical sequence encoder that reads in one token at a time and makes a discrete decision on whether the token is relevant to the context or question being asked. The discrete gating mechanism takes in the context embedding and the current hidden state as inputs and controls information flow into the layer above. We train it using policy gradient methods. We evaluate this method on several types of tasks with different attributes. First, we evaluate the method on synthetic tasks which allow us to evaluate the model for its generalization ability and probe the behavior of the gates in more controlled settings. We then evaluate this approach on large scale Question Answering tasks including the challenging MS MARCO and SearchQA tasks. Our models shows consistent improvements for both tasks over prior work and our baselines. It has also shown to generalize significantly better on synthetic tasks as compared to the baselines.

Generalization without systematicity: On the compositional skills of sequence-to-sequence recurrent networks
Brenden Lake and Marco Baroni

Humans can understand and produce new utterances effortlessly, thanks to their compositional skills. Once a person learns the meaning of a new verb “dax,” he or she can immediately understand the meaning of “dax twice” or “sing and dax.” In this paper, we introduce the SCAN domain, consisting of a set of simple compositional navigation commands paired with the corresponding action sequences. We then test the zero-shot generalization capabilities of a variety of recurrent neural networks (RNNs) trained on SCAN with sequence-to-sequence methods. We find that RNNs can make successful zero-shot generalizations when the differences between training and test commands are small, so that they can apply “mix-and-match” strategies to solve the task. However, when generalization requires systematic compositional skills (as in the “dax” example above), RNNs fail spectacularly. We conclude with a proof-of-concept experiment in neural machine translation, suggesting that lack of systematicity might be partially responsible for neural networks’ notorious training data thirst.

Hierarchical Text Generation and Planning for Strategic Dialogue
Denis Yarats, Mike Lewis

End-to-end models for goal-orientated dialogue are challenging to train, because linguistic and strategic aspects are entangled in latent state vectors. We introduce an approach to learning representations of messages in dialogues by maximizing the likelihood of subsequent sentences and actions, which decouples the semantics of the dialogue utterance from its linguistic realization. We then use these latent sentence representations for hierarchical language generation, planning and reinforcement learning. Experiments show that our approach increases the end-task reward achieved by the model, improves the effectiveness of long-term planning using rollouts, and allows self-play reinforcement learning to improve decision making without diverging from human language. Our hierarchical latent-variable model outperforms previous work both linguistically and strategically.

Improved Large-Scale Graph Learning Through Ridge Spectral Sparsification
Daniele Calandriello, Alessandro Lazaric, Michal Valko

The representation and learning benefits of methods based on graph Laplacians, such as Laplacian smoothing or harmonic function solution for semi-supervised learning (SSL), are empirically and theoretically well supported. Nonetheless, the exact versions of these methods scale poorly with the number of nodes n of the graph. In this paper, we combine a spectral sparsification routine with Laplacian learning. Given a graph G as input, our algorithm computes a sparsifier in a distributed way in O(n log3 (n)) time, O(m log3 (n)) work and O(m log(n)) memory, using only log(n) rounds of communication. Furthermore, motivated by the regularization often employed in learning algorithms, we show that constructing sparsifiers that preserve the spectrum of the Laplacian only up to the regularization level may drastically reduce the size of the final graph. By constructing a spectrally-similar graph, we are able to bound the error induced by the sparsification for a variety of downstream tasks (e.g., SSL). We empirically validate the theoretical guarantees on Amazon co-purchase graph and compare to the state-of-the-art heuristics.

Improved Regret Bounds for Thompson Sampling in Linear Quadratic Control Problems
Marc Abeille, Alessandro Lazaric

Thompson sampling (TS) is an effective approach to trade off exploration and exploration in reinforcement learning. Despite its empirical success and recent advances, its theoretical analysis is often limited to the Bayesian setting, finite state-action spaces, or finite-horizon problems. In this paper, we study an instance of TS in the challenging setting of the infinite-horizon linear quadratic (LQ) control, which models problems with continuous state-action variables, linear dynamics, and quadratic cost. In particular, we analyze the regret in the frequentist sense (i.e., for a fixed unknown environment) in one-dimensional systems. We derive the first O(√T) frequentist regret bound for this problem, thus significantly improving the O(T 2/3) bound of Abeille & Lazaric (2017) and matching the frequentist performance derived by Abbasi-Yadkori & Szepesvári (2011) for an optimistic approach and the Bayesian result of Ouyang et al. (2017). We obtain this result by developing a novel bound on the regret due to policy switches, which holds for LQ systems of any dimensionality and it allows updating the parameters and the policy at each step, thus overcoming previous limitations due to lazy updates. Finally, we report numerical simulations supporting the conjecture that our result extends to multi-dimensional systems.

Learning Continuous Hierarchies in the Lorentz Model of Hyperbolic Geometry
Maximilian Nickel, Douwe Kiela

We are concerned with the discovery of hierarchical relationships from large-scale unstructured similarity scores. For this purpose, we study different models of hyperbolic space and find that learning embeddings in the Lorentz model is substantially more efficient than in the Poincaré-ball model. We show that the proposed approach allows us to learn high-quality embeddings of large taxonomies which can yield significant improvements over Poincaré embeddings, especially in low dimensions. Lastly, we apply our model to discover hierarchies in two real-world datasets: we show that an embedding in hyperbolic space can reveal important aspects of a company’s organizational structure as well as historical relationships between language families.

Learning Diffusion using Hyperparameters
Dimitris Kalimeris, Yaron Singer, Karthik Subbian, Udi Weinsberg

In this paper we advocate for a hyperparametric approach to learn diffusion in the independent cascade (IC) model. The sample complexity of this model is a function of the number of edges in the network and consequently learning becomes infeasible when the network is large. We study a natural restriction of the hypothesis class using additional information available in order to dramatically reduce the sample complexity of the learning process. In particular we assume that diffusion probabilities can be described as a function of a global hyperparameter and features of the individuals in the network. One of the main challenges with this approach is that training a model reduces to optimizing a non-convex objective. Despite this obstacle, we can shrink the best-known sample complexity bound for learning IC by a factor of |E|/d where |E| is the number of edges in the graph and d is the dimension of the hyperparameter. We show that under mild assumptions about the distribution generating the samples one can provably train a model with low generalization error. Finally, we use large-scale diffusion data from Facebook to show that a hyperparametric model using approximately 20 features per node achieves remarkably high accuracy.

Mixed Batches and Symmetric Discriminators for GAN Training
Thomas Lucas, Corentin Tallec, Jakob Verbeek, Yann Ollivier

Generative adversarial networks (GANs) are powerful generative models based on providing feedback to a generative network via a discriminator network. However, the discriminator usually assesses individual samples. This prevents the discriminator from accessing global distributional statistics of generated samples, and often leads to mode dropping: the generator models only part of the target distribution. We propose to feed the discriminator with mixed batches of true and fake samples, and train it to predict the ratio of true samples in the batch. The latter score does not depend on the order of samples in a batch. Rather than learning this invariance, we introduce a generic permutation-invariant discriminator architecture. This architecture is provably a universal approximator of all symmetric functions. Experimentally, our approach reduces mode collapse in GANs on two synthetic datasets, and obtains good results on the CIFAR10 and CelebA datasets, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Modeling Others using Oneself in Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning
Roberta Raileanu, Emily Denton, Arthur SzlamRob Fergus

We consider the multi-agent reinforcement learning setting with imperfect information in which each agent is trying to maximize its own utility. The reward function depends on the hidden state (or goal) of both agents, so the agents must infer the other players’ hidden goals from their observed behavior in order to solve the tasks. We propose a new approach for learning in these domains: Self Other-Modeling (SOM), in which an agent uses its own policy to predict the other agent’s actions and update its belief of their hidden state in an online manner. We evaluate this approach on three different tasks and show that the agents are able to learn better policies using their estimate of the other players’ hidden states, in both cooperative and adversarial settings.

Optimizing the Latent Space of Generative Networks
Piotr Bojanowski, Armand Joulin, Arthur Szlam, David Lopez-Paz

Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) have achieved remarkable results in the task of generating realistic natural images. In most successful applications, GAN models share two common aspects: solving a challenging saddle point optimization problem, interpreted as an adversarial game between a generator and a discriminator functions; and parameterizing the generator and the discriminator as deep convolutional neural networks. The goal of this paper is to disentangle the contribution of these two factors to the success of GANs. In particular, we introduce Generative Latent Optimization (GLO), a framework to train deep convolutional generators using simple reconstruction losses. Throughout a variety of experiments, we show that GLO enjoys many of the desirable properties of GANs: synthesizing visually-appealing samples, interpolating meaningfully between samples, and performing linear arithmetic with noise vectors; all of this without the adversarial optimization scheme.

Understanding the Loss Surface of Neural Networks for Binary Classification
Shiyu Liang, Ruoyu Sun, Yixuan Li, R. Srikant

It is widely conjectured that training algorithms for neural networks are successful because all local minima lead to similar performance; for example, see (LeCun et al., 2015; Choromanska et al., 2015; Dauphin et al., 2014). Performance is typically measured in terms of two metrics: training performance and generalization performance. Here we focus on the training performance of neural networks for binary classification, and provide conditions under which the training error is zero at all local minima of appropriately chosen surrogate loss functions. Our conditions are roughly in the following form: the neurons have to be increasing and strictly convex, the neural network should either be single-layered or is multi-layered with a shortcut-like connection, and the surrogate loss function should be a smooth version of hinge loss. We also provide counterexamples to show that, when these conditions are relaxed, the result may not hold.

Other activities at ICML 2018

Workshop on Prediction and Generative Modeling in Reinforcement Learning
Alessandro Lazaric, organizer
Yann LeCun, speaker