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  1. Understanding generalization and robustness of machine learning models funda- mentally relies on assuming an appropriate metric on the data space. Identifying such a metric is particularly challenging for non-Euclidean data such as graphs. Here, we propose a pseudometric for attributed graphs, the Tree Mover’s Distance (TMD), and study its relation to generalization. Via a hierarchical optimal transport problem, TMD reflects the local distribution of node attributes as well as the distri- bution of local computation trees, which are known to be decisive for the learning behavior of graph neural networks (GNNs). First, we show that TMD captures properties relevant to graph classification: a simple TMD-SVM performs competi- tively with standard GNNs. Second, we relate TMD to generalization of GNNs under distribution shifts, and show that it correlates well with performance drop under such shifts. 
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  2. Modeling the time evolution of discrete sets of items (e.g., genetic mutations) is a fundamental problem in many biomedical applications. We approach this problem through the lens of continuous-time Markov chains, and show that the resulting learning task is generally underspecified in the usual setting of cross-sectional data. We explore a perhaps surprising remedy: including a number of additional independent items can help determine time order, and hence resolve underspecification. This is in sharp contrast to the common practice of limiting the analysis to a small subset of relevant items, which is followed largely due to poor scaling of existing methods. To put our theoretical insight into practice, we develop an approximate likelihood maximization method for learning continuous-time Markov chains, which can scale to hundreds of items and is orders of magnitude faster than previous methods. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on synthetic and real cancer data. 
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  3. This work explores the Benevolent Training Hypothesis (BTH) which argues that the complexity of the function a deep neural network (NN) is learning can be deduced by its training dynamics. Our analysis provides evidence for BTH by relating the NN’s Lipschitz constant at different regions of the input space with the behavior of the stochastic training procedure. We first observe that the Lipschitz constant close to the training data affects various aspects of the parameter trajectory, with more complex networks having a longer trajectory, bigger variance, and often veering further from their initialization. We then show that NNs whose 1st layer bias is trained more steadily (i.e., slowly and with little variation) have bounded complexity even in regions of the input space that are far from any training point. Finally, we find that steady training with Dropout implies a training- and data-dependent generalization bound that grows poly-logarithmically with the number of parameters. Overall, our results support the intuition that good training behavior can be a useful bias towards good generalization. 
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  4. The generalization of representations learned via contrastive learning depends crucially on what features of the data are extracted. However, we observe that the contrastive loss does not always sufficiently guide which features are extracted, a behavior that can negatively impact the performance on downstream tasks via “shortcuts”, i.e., by inadvertently suppressing important predictive features. We find that feature extraction is influenced by the difficulty of the so-called instance discrimination task (i.e., the task of discriminating pairs of similar points from pairs of dissimilar ones). Although harder pairs improve the representation of some features, the improvement comes at the cost of suppressing previously well represented features. In response, we propose implicit feature modification (IFM), a method for altering positive and negative samples in order to guide contrastive models towards capturing a wider variety of predictive features. Empirically, we observe that IFM reduces feature suppression, and as a result improves performance on vision and medical imaging tasks. The code is available at: https://github. com/joshr17/IFM. 
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  5. Understanding the generalization of deep neural networks is one of the most important tasks in deep learning. Although much progress has been made, theoretical error bounds still often behave disparately from empirical observations. In this work, we develop margin-based generalization bounds, where the margins are normalized with optimal transport costs between independent random subsets sampled from the training distribution. In particular, the optimal transport cost can be interpreted as a generalization of variance which captures the structural properties of the learned feature space. Our bounds robustly predict the generalization error, given training data and network parameters, on large scale datasets. Theoretically, we demonstrate that the concentration and separation of features play crucial roles in generalization, supporting empirical results in the literature. The code is available at https://github.com/chingyaoc/kV-Margin. 
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