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  1. We consider the well-studied problem of learning a linear combination of k ReLU activations with respect to a Gaussian distribution on inputs in d dimensions. We give the first polynomial-time algorithm that succeeds whenever k is a constant. All prior polynomial-time learners require additional assumptions on the network, such as positive combining coefficients or the matrix of hidden weight vectors being well-conditioned. Our approach is based on analyzing random contractions of higher-order moment tensors. We use a multi-scale analysis to argue that sufficiently close neurons can be collapsed together, sidestepping the conditioning issues present in prior work. This allows us to design an iterative procedure to discover individual neurons. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 12, 2024
  2. We give superpolynomial statistical query (SQ) lower bounds for learning two-hidden-layer ReLU networks with respect to Gaussian inputs in the standard (noise-free) model. No general SQ lower bounds were known for learning ReLU networks of any depth in this setting: previous SQ lower bounds held only for adversarial noise models (agnostic learning) or restricted models such as correlational SQ. Prior work hinted at the impossibility of our result: Vempala and Wilmes showed that general SQ lower bounds cannot apply to any real-valued family of functions that satisfies a simple non-degeneracy condition. To circumvent their result, we refine a lifting procedure due to Daniely and Vardi that reduces Boolean PAC learning problems to Gaussian ones. We show how to extend their technique to other learning models and, in many well-studied cases, obtain a more efficient reduction. As such, we also prove new cryptographic hardness results for PAC learning two-hidden-layer ReLU networks, as well as new lower bounds for learning constant-depth ReLU networks from label queries. 
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  3. We prove several hardness results for training depth-2 neural networks with the ReLU activation function; these networks are simply weighted sums (that may include negative coefficients) of ReLUs. Our goal is to output a depth-2 neural network that minimizes the square loss with respect to a given training set. We prove that this problem is NP-hard already for a network with a single ReLU. We also prove NP-hardness for outputting a weighted sum of k ReLUs minimizing the squared error (for k>1) even in the realizable setting (i.e., when the labels are consistent with an unknown depth-2 ReLU network). We are also able to obtain lower bounds on the running time in terms of the desired additive error ϵ. To obtain our lower bounds, we use the Gap Exponential Time Hypothesis (Gap-ETH) as well as a new hypothesis regarding the hardness of approximating the well known Densest k-Subgraph problem in subexponential time (these hypotheses are used separately in proving different lower bounds). For example, we prove that under reasonable hardness assumptions, any proper learning algorithm for finding the best fitting ReLU must run in time exponential in (1/epsilon)^2. Together with a previous work regarding improperly learning a ReLU (Goel et al., COLT'17), this implies the first separation between proper and improper algorithms for learning a ReLU. We also study the problem of properly learning a depth-2 network of ReLUs with bounded weights giving new (worst-case) upper bounds on the running time needed to learn such networks both in the realizable and agnostic settings. Our upper bounds on the running time essentially matches our lower bounds in terms of the dependency on epsilon. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    Graphical models are powerful tools for modeling high-dimensional data, but learning graphical models in the presence of latent variables is well-known to be difficult. In this work we give new results for learning Restricted Boltzmann Machines, probably the most well-studied class of latent variable models. Our results are based on new connections to learning two-layer neural networks under ℓ∞ bounded input; for both problems, we give nearly optimal results under the conjectured hardness of sparse parity with noise. Using the connection between RBMs and feedforward networks, we also initiate the theoretical study of supervised RBMs [Hinton, 2012], a version of neural-network learning that couples distributional assumptions induced from the underlying graphical model with the architecture of the unknown function class. We then give an algorithm for learning a natural class of supervised RBMs with better runtime than what is possible for its related class of networks without distributional assumptions. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    We give the first statistical-query lower bounds for agnostically learning any non-polynomial activation with respect to Gaussian marginals (e.g., ReLU, sigmoid, sign). For the specific problem of ReLU regression (equivalently, agnostically learning a ReLU), we show that any statistical-query algorithm with tolerance n−(1/ϵ)b must use at least 2ncϵ queries for some constant b,c>0, where n is the dimension and ϵ is the accuracy parameter. Our results rule out general (as opposed to correlational) SQ learning algorithms, which is unusual for real-valued learning problems. Our techniques involve a gradient boosting procedure for "amplifying" recent lower bounds due to Diakonikolas et al. (COLT 2020) and Goel et al. (ICML 2020) on the SQ dimension of functions computed by two-layer neural networks. The crucial new ingredient is the use of a nonstandard convex functional during the boosting procedure. This also yields a best-possible reduction between two commonly studied models of learning: agnostic learning and probabilistic concepts. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    We give the first polynomial-time algorithm for robust regression in the list-decodable setting where an adversary can corrupt a greater than 1/2 fraction of examples. For any our algorithm takes as input a sample of n linear equations where (1- \alpha) n of the equations are {\em arbitrarily} chosen. It outputs a list that contains a linear function that is close to the truth. Our algorithm succeeds whenever the inliers are chosen from a \emph{certifiably} anti-concentrated distribution D. In particular, this gives an efficient algorithm to find an optimal size list when the inlier distribution is standard Gaussian. For discrete product distributions that are anti-concentrated only in \emph{regular} directions, we give an algorithm that achieves similar guarantee under the promise that the true linear function has all coordinates of the same magnitude. To complement our result, we prove that the anti-concentration assumption on the inliers is information-theoretically necessary. Our algorithm is based on a new framework for list-decodable learning that strengthens the `identifiability to algorithms' paradigm based on the sum-of-squares method. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    We give the first efficient algorithm for learning the structure of an Ising model that tolerates independent failures; that is, each entry of the observed sample is missing with some unknown probability 𝑝. Our algorithm matches the essentially optimal runtime and sample complexity bounds of recent work for learning Ising models due to Klivans and Meka (2017). We devise a novel unbiased estimator for the gradient of the Interaction Screening Objective (ISO) due to Vuffray et al. (2016) and apply a stochastic multiplicative gradient descent algorithm to minimize this objective. Solutions to this minimization recover the neighborhood information of the underlying Ising model on a node by node basis. 
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