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  1. We prove identifiability of a broad class of deep latent variable models that (a) have universal approximation capabilities and (b) are the decoders of variational auto-encoders that are commonly used in practice. Unlike existing work, our analysis does not require weak supervision, auxiliary information, or conditioning in the latent space. Specifically, we show that for a broad class of generative (i.e. unsupervised) models with universal approximation capabilities, the side information u is not necessary: We prove identifiability of the entire generative model where we do not observe u and only observe the data x. The models we consider match auto-encoder architectures used in practice that leverage mixture priors in the latent space and ReLU/leaky-ReLU activations in the encoder, such as VaDE and MFC-VAE. Our main result is an identifiability hierarchy that significantly generalizes previous work and exposes how different assumptions lead to different “strengths” of identifiability, and includes certain “vanilla” VAEs with isotropic Gaussian priors as a special case. For example, our weakest result establishes (unsupervised) identifiability up to an affine transformation, and thus partially resolves an open problem regarding model identifiability raised in prior work. These theoretical results are augmented with experiments on both simulated and real data.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 10, 2024
  2. Semi-supervised learning and weakly supervised learning are important paradigms that aim to reduce the growing demand for labeled data in current machine learning applications. In this paper, we introduce a novel analysis of the classical label propagation algorithm (LPA) (Zhu & Ghahramani, 2002) that moreover takes advantage of useful prior information, specifically probabilistic hypothesized labels on the unlabeled data. We provide an error bound that exploits both the local geometric properties of the underlying graph and the quality of the prior information. We also propose a framework to incorporate multiple sources of noisy information. In particular, we consider the setting of weak supervision, where our sources of information are weak labelers. We demonstrate the ability of our approach on multiple benchmark weakly supervised classification tasks, showing improvements upon existing semi-supervised and weakly supervised methods.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  3. Concept-based interpretations of black-box models are often more intuitive for humans to understand. The most widely adopted approach for concept-based interpretation is Concept Activation Vector (CAV). CAV relies on learning a linear relation between some latent representation of a given model and concepts. The linear separability is usually implicitly assumed but does not hold true in general. In this work, we started from the original intent of concept-based interpretation and proposed Concept Gradient (CG), extending concept-based interpretation beyond linear concept functions. We showed that for a general (potentially non-linear) concept, we can mathematically evaluate how a small change of concept affecting the model’s prediction, which leads to an extension of gradient-based interpretation to the concept space. We demonstrated empirically that CG outperforms CAV in both toy examples and real world datasets.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  4. Adrian Weller (Ed.)
    A wide range of machine learning applications such as privacy-preserving learning, algorithmic fairness, and domain adaptation/generalization among others, involve learning invariant representations of the data that aim to achieve two competing goals: (a) maximize information or accuracy with respect to a target response, and (b) maximize invariance or independence with respect to a set of protected features (e.g. for fairness, privacy, etc). Despite their wide applicability, theoretical understanding of the optimal tradeoffs — with respect to accuracy, and invariance — achievable by invariant representations is still severely lacking. In this paper, we provide an information theoretic analysis of such tradeoffs under both classification and regression settings. More precisely, we provide a geometric characterization of the accuracy and invariance achievable by any representation of the data; we term this feasible region the information plane. We provide an inner bound for this feasible region for the classification case, and an exact characterization for the regression case, which allows us to either bound or exactly characterize the Pareto optimal frontier between accuracy and invariance. Although our contributions are mainly theoretical, a key practical application of our results is in certifying the potential sub-optimality of any given representation learning algorithm for either classification ormore »regression tasks. Our results shed new light on the fundamental interplay between accuracy and invariance, and may be useful in guiding the design of future representation learning algorithms.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  5. A popular assumption for out-of-distribution generalization is that the training data comprises subdatasets, each drawn from a distinct distribution; the goal is then to “interpolate” these distributions and “extrapolate” beyond them—this objective is broadly known as domain generalization. A common belief is that ERM can interpolate but not extrapolate and that the latter task is considerably more difficult, but these claims are vague and lack formal justification. In this work, we recast generalization over sub-groups as an online game between a player minimizing risk and an adversary presenting new test distributions. Under an existing notion of inter- and extrapolation based on reweighting of sub-group likelihoods, we rigorously demonstrate that extrapolation is computationally much harder than interpolation, though their statistical complexity is not significantly different. Furthermore, we show that ERM—or a noisy variant—is provably minimax-optimal for both tasks. Our framework presents a new avenue for the formal analysis of domain generalization algorithms which may be of independent interest.
  6. We consider the task of heavy-tailed statistical estimation given streaming p-dimensional samples. This could also be viewed as stochastic optimization under heavy-tailed distributions, with an additional O(p) space complexity constraint. We design a clipped stochastic gradient descent algorithm and provide an improved analysis, under a more nuanced condition on the noise of the stochastic gradients, which we show is critical when analyzing stochastic optimization problems arising from general statistical estimation problems. Our results guarantee convergence not just in expectation but with exponential concentration, and moreover does so using O(1) batch size. We provide consequences of our results for mean estimation and linear regression. Finally, we provide empirical corroboration of our results and algorithms via synthetic experiments for mean estimation and linear regression.
  7. The unsupervised task of aligning two or more distributions in a shared latent space has many applications including fair representations, batch effect mitigation, and unsupervised domain adaptation. Existing flow-based approaches estimate multiple flows independently, which is equivalent to learning multiple full generative models. Other approaches require adversarial learning, which can be computationally expensive and challenging to optimize. Thus, we aim to jointly align multiple distributions while avoiding adversarial learning. Inspired by efficient alignment algorithms from optimal transport (OT) theory for univariate distributions, we develop a simple iterative method to build deep and expressive flows. Our method decouples each iteration into two subproblems: 1) form a variational approximation of a distribution divergence and 2) minimize this variational approximation via closed-form invertible alignment maps based on known OT results. Our empirical results give evidence that this iterative algorithm achieves competitive distribution alignment at low computational cost while being able to naturally handle more than two distributions.
  8. The vast majority of work in self-supervised learning have focused on assessing recovered features by a chosen set of downstream tasks. While there are several commonly used benchmark datasets, this lens of feature learning requires assumptions on the downstream tasks which are not inherent to the data distribution itself. In this paper, we present an alternative lens, one of parameter identifiability: assuming data comes from a parametric probabilistic model, we train a self-supervised learning predictor with a suitable parametric form, and ask whether the parameters of the optimal predictor can be used to extract the parameters of the ground truth generative model. Specifically, we focus on latent-variable models capturing sequential structures, namely Hidden Markov Models with both discrete and conditionally Gaussian observations. We focus on masked prediction as the self-supervised learning task and study the optimal masked predictor. We show that parameter identifiability is governed by the task difficulty, which is determined by the choice of data model and the amount of tokens to predict. Technique-wise, we uncover close connections with the uniqueness of tensor rank decompositions, a widely used tool in studying identifiability through the lens of the method of moments.
  9. Hitzler, Pascal ; Sarker, Md Kamruzzaman (Ed.)
    Understanding complex machine learning models such as deep neural networks with explanations is crucial in various applications. Many explanations stem from the model perspective, and may not necessarily effectively communicate why the model is making its predictions at the right level of abstraction. For example, providing importance weights to individual pixels in an image can only express which parts of that particular image are important to the model, but humans may prefer an explanation which explains the prediction by concept-based thinking. In this work, we review the emerging area of concept based explanations. We start by introducing concept explanations including the class of Concept Activation Vectors (CAV) which characterize concepts using vectors in appropriate spaces of neural activations, and discuss different properties of useful concepts, and approaches to measure the usefulness of concept vectors. We then discuss approaches to automatically extract concepts, and approaches to address some of their caveats. Finally, we discuss some case studies that showcase the utility of such concept-based explanations in synthetic settings and real world applications.