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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 23, 2024
  2. Structured prediction of tree-shaped objects is heavily studied under the name of syntactic dependency parsing. Current practice based on maximum likelihood or margin is either agnostic to or inconsistent with the evaluation loss. Risk minimization alleviates the discrepancy between training and test objectives but typically induces a non-convex problem. These approaches adopt explicit regularization to combat overfitting without probabilistic interpretation. We propose a momentbased distributionally robust optimization approach for tree structured prediction, where the worst-case expected loss over a set of distributions within bounded moment divergence from the empirical distribution is minimized. We develop efficient algorithms for arborescences and other variants of trees. We derive Fisher consistency, convergence rates and generalization bounds for our proposed method. We evaluate its empirical effectiveness on dependency parsing benchmarks. 
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  3. Plasma jets are widely investigated both in the laboratory and in nature. Astrophysical objects such as black holes, active galactic nuclei and young stellar objects commonly emit plasma jets in various forms. With the availability of data from plasma jet experiments resembling astrophysical plasma jets, classification of such data would potentially aid in not only investigating the underlying physics of the experiments but also the study of astrophysical jets. In this work we use deep learning to process all of the laboratory plasma images from the Caltech Spheromak Experiment spanning two decades. We found that cosine similarity can aid in feature selection, classify images through comparison of feature vector direction and be used as a loss function for the training of AlexNet for plasma image classification. We also develop a simple vector direction comparison algorithm for binary and multi-class classification. Using our algorithm we demonstrate 93 % accurate binary classification to distinguish unstable columns from stable columns and 92 % accurate five-way classification of a small, labelled data set which includes three classes corresponding to varying levels of kink instability. 
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  4. We consider the problem of learning the underlying structure of a general discrete pairwise Markov network. Existing approaches that rely on empirical risk minimization may perform poorly in settings with noisy or scarce data. To overcome these limitations, we propose a computationally efficient and robust learning method for this problem with near-optimal sample complexities. Our approach builds upon distributionally robust optimization (DRO) and maximum conditional log-likelihood. The proposed DRO estimator minimizes the worst-case risk over an ambiguity set of adversarial distributions within bounded transport cost or f-divergence of the empirical data distribution. We show that the primal minimax learning problem can be efficiently solved by leveraging sufficient statistics and greedy maximization in the ostensibly intractable dual formulation. Based on DRO’s approximation to Lipschitz and variance regularization, we derive near-optimal sample complexities matching existing results. Extensive empirical evidence with different corruption models corroborates the effectiveness of the proposed methods. 
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  5. We consider the imitation learning problem of learning a policy in a Markov Decision Process (MDP) setting where the reward function is not given, but demonstrations from experts are available. Although the goal of imitation learning is to learn a policy that produces behaviors nearly as good as the experts’ for a desired task, assumptions of consistent optimality for demonstrated behaviors are often violated in practice. Finding a policy that is distributionally robust against noisy demonstrations based on an adversarial construction potentially solves this problem by avoiding optimistic generalizations of the demonstrated data. This paper studies Distributionally Robust Imitation Learning (DRoIL) and establishes a close connection between DRoIL and Maximum Entropy Inverse Reinforcement Learning. We show that DRoIL can be seen as a framework that maximizes a generalized concept of entropy. We develop a novel approach to transform the objective function into a convex optimization problem over a polynomial number of variables for a class of loss functions that are additive over state and action spaces. Our approach lets us optimize both stationary and non-stationary policies and, unlike prevalent previous methods, it does not require repeatedly solving an inner reinforcement learning problem. We experimentally show the significant benefits of DRoIL’s new optimization method on synthetic data and a highway driving environment. 
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  7. Invariance (defined in a general sense) has been one of the most effective priors for representation learning. Direct factorization of parametric models is feasible only for a small range of invariances, while regularization approaches, despite improved generality, lead to nonconvex optimization. In this work, we develop a convex representation learning algorithm for a variety of generalized invariances that can be modeled as semi-norms. Novel Euclidean embeddings are introduced for kernel representers in a semi-inner-product space, and approximation bounds are established. This allows invariant representations to be learned efficiently and effectively as confirmed in our experiments, along with accurate predictions. 
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    Underpinning the success of deep learning is effective regularizations that allow a variety of priors in data to be modeled. For example, robustness to adversarial perturbations, and correlations between multiple modalities. However, most regularizers are specified in terms of hidden layer outputs, which are not themselves optimization variables. In contrast to prevalent methods that optimize them indirectly through model weights, we propose inserting proximal mapping as a new layer to the deep network, which directly and explicitly produces well regularized hidden layer outputs. The resulting technique is shown well connected to kernel warping and dropout, and novel algorithms were developed for robust temporal learning and multiview modeling, both outperforming state-of-the-art methods. 
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    Graph convolution networks (GCNs) have become effective models for graph classification. Similar to many deep networks, GCNs are vulnerable to adversarial attacks on graph topology and node attributes. Recently, a number of effective attack and defense algorithms have been designed, but no certificate of robustness has been developed for GCN-based graph classification under topological perturbations with both local and global budgets. In this paper, we propose the first certificate for this problem. Our method is based on Lagrange dualization and convex envelope, which result in tight approximation bounds that are efficiently computable by dynamic programming. When used in conjunction with robust training, it allows an increased number of graphs to be certified as robust. 
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