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  1. Deep classifiers are known to rely on spurious features — patterns which are correlated with the target on the training data but not inherently relevant to the learning problem, such as the image backgrounds when classifying the foregrounds. In this paper we evaluate the amount of information about the core (non-spurious) features that can be decoded from the representations learned by standard empirical risk minimization (ERM) and specialized group robustness training. Following recent work on Deep Feature Reweighting (DFR), we evaluate the feature representations by re-training the last layer of the model on a held-out set where the spurious correlation is broken. On multiple vision and NLP problems, we show that the features learned by simple ERM are highly competitive with the features learned by specialized group robustness methods targeted at reducing the effect of spurious correlations. Moreover, we show that the quality of learned feature representations is greatly affected by the design decisions beyond the training method, such as the model architecture and pre-training strategy. On the other hand, we find that strong regularization is not necessary for learning high-quality feature representations. Finally, using insights from our analysis, we significantly improve upon the best results reported in the literature on the popular Waterbirds, CelebA hair color prediction and WILDS-FMOW problems, achieving 97\%, 92\% and 50\% worst-group accuracies, respectively. 
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  2. Bayesian optimization (BayesOpt) is a gold standard for query-efficient continuous optimization. However, its adoption for drug design has been hindered by the discrete, high-dimensional nature of the decision variables. We develop a new approach (LaMBO) which jointly trains a denoising autoencoder with a discriminative multi-task Gaussian process head, allowing gradient-based optimization of multi-objective acquisition functions in the latent space of the autoencoder. These acquisition functions allow LaMBO to balance the explore-exploit tradeoff over multiple design rounds, and to balance objective tradeoffs by optimizing sequences at many different points on the Pareto frontier. We evaluate LaMBO on two small-molecule design tasks, and introduce new tasks optimizing \emph{in silico} and \emph{in vitro} properties of large-molecule fluorescent proteins. In our experiments LaMBO outperforms genetic optimizers and does not require a large pretraining corpus, demonstrating that BayesOpt is practical and effective for biological sequence design. 
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  3. Physics-inspired neural networks (NNs), such as Hamiltonian or Lagrangian NNs, dramatically outperform other learned dynamics models by leveraging strong inductive biases. These models, however, are challenging to apply to many real world systems, such as those that don’t conserve energy or contain contacts, a common setting for robotics and reinforcement learning. In this paper, we examine the inductive biases that make physics-inspired models successful in practice. We show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the improved generalization of HNNs is the result of modeling acceleration directly and avoiding artificial complexity from the coordinate system, rather than symplectic structure or energy conservation. We show that by relaxing the inductive biases of these models, we can match or exceed performance on energy-conserving systems while dramatically improving performance on practical, non-conservative systems. We extend this approach to constructing transition models for common Mujoco environments, showing that our model can appropriately balance inductive biases with the flexibility required for model-based control. 
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