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  1. We propose a neural network approach for solving high-dimensional optimal control problems. In particular, we focus on multi-agent control problems with obstacle and collision avoidance. These problems immediately become high-dimensional, even for moderate phase-space dimensions per agent. Our approach fuses the Pontryagin Maximum Principle and Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman (HJB) approaches and parameterizes the value function with a neural network. Our approach yields controls in a feedback form for quick calculation and robustness to moderate disturbances to the system. We train our model using the objective function and optimality conditions of the control problem. Therefore, our training algorithm neither involves a data generationmore »phase nor solutions from another algorithm. Our model uses empirically effective HJB penalizers for efficient training. By training on a distribution of initial states, we ensure the controls' optimality is achieved on a large portion of the state-space. Our approach is grid-free and scales efficiently to dimensions where grids become impractical or infeasible. We demonstrate our approach's effectiveness on a 150-dimensional multi-agent problem with obstacles.« less
  2. Training activation quantized neural networks involves minimizing a piecewise constant function whose gradient vanishes almost everywhere, which is undesirable for the standard back-propagation or chain rule. An empirical way around this issue is to use a straight-through estimator (STE) (Bengio et al., 2013) in the backward pass only, so that the “gradient” through the modified chain rule becomes non-trivial. Since this unusual “gradient” is certainly not the gradient of loss function, the following question arises: why searching in its negative direction minimizes the training loss? In this paper, we provide the theoretical justification of the concept of STE by answeringmore »this question. We consider the problem of learning a two-linear-layer network with binarized ReLU activation and Gaussian input data. We shall refer to the unusual “gradient” given by the STE-modifed chain rule as coarse gradient. The choice of STE is not unique. We prove that if the STE is properly chosen, the expected coarse gradient correlates positively with the population gradient (not available for the training), and its negation is a descent direction for minimizing the population loss. We further show the associated coarse gradient descent algorithm converges to a critical point of the population loss minimization problem. Moreover, we show that a poor choice of STE leads to instability of the training algorithm near certain local minima, which is verified with CIFAR-10 experiments.« less
  3. Quantized deep neural networks (QDNNs) are attractive due to their much lower memory storage and faster inference speed than their regular full-precision counterparts. To maintain the same performance level especially at low bit-widths, QDNNs must be retrained. Their training involves piece-wise constant activation functions and discrete weights; hence, mathematical challenges arise. We introduce the notion of coarse gradient and propose the blended coarse gradient descent (BCGD) algorithm, for training fully quantized neural networks. Coarse gradient is generally not a gradient of any function but an artificial ascent direction. The weight update of BCGD goes by coarse gradient correction of amore »weighted average of the full-precision weights and their quantization (the so-called blending), which yields sufficient descent in the objective value and thus accelerates the training. Our experiments demonstrate that this simple blending technique is very effective for quantization at extremely low bit-width such as binarization. In full quantization of ResNet-18 for ImageNet classification task, BCGD gives 64.36% top-1 accuracy with binary weights across all layers and 4-bit adaptive activation. If the weights in the first and last layers are kept in full precision, this number increases to 65.46%. As theoretical justification, we show convergence analysis of coarse gradient descent for a two-linear-layer neural network model with Gaussian input data and prove that the expected coarse gradient correlates positively with the underlying true gradient.« less
  4. We propose a new algorithm to approximate the Earth Mover's distance (EMD). Our main idea is motivated by the theory of optimal transport, in which EMD can be reformulated as a familiar L1 type minimization. We use a regularization which gives us a unique solution for this L1 type problem. The new regularized minimization is very similar to problems which have been solved in the fields of compressed sensing and image processing, where several fast methods are available. In this paper, we adopt a primal-dual algorithm designed there, which uses very simple updates at each iteration and is shown tomore »converge very rapidly. Several numerical examples are provided.« less
  5. We propose BinaryRelax, a simple two-phase algorithm, for training deep neural networks with quantized weights. The set constraint that characterizes the quantization of weights is not imposed until the late stage of training, and a sequence of pseudo quantized weights is maintained. Specifically, we relax the hard constraint into a continuous regularizer via Moreau envelope, which turns out to be the squared Euclidean distance to the set of quantized weights. The pseudo quantized weights are obtained by linearly interpolating between the float weights and their quantizations. A continuation strategy is adopted to push the weights towards the quantized state bymore »gradually increasing the regularization parameter. In the second phase, exact quantization scheme with a small learning rate is invoked to guarantee fully quantized weights. We test BinaryRelax on the benchmark CIFAR and ImageNet color image datasets to demonstrate the superiority of the relaxed quantization approach and the improved accuracy over the state-of-the-art training methods. Finally, we prove the convergence of BinaryRelax under an approximate orthogonality condition.« less