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  1. Learning invariant representations is a critical first step in a number of machine learning tasks. A common approach is given by the so-called information bottleneck principle in which an application dependent function of mutual information is carefully chosen and optimized. Unfortunately, in practice, these functions are not suitable for optimization purposes since these losses are agnostic of the metric structure of the parameters of the model. In our paper, we introduce a class of losses for learning representations that are invariant to some extraneous variable of interest by inverting the class of contrastive losses, i.e., inverse contrastive loss (ICL). We show that if the extraneous variable is binary, then optimizing ICL is equivalent to optimizing a regularized MMD divergence. More generally, we also show that if we are provided a metric on the sample space, our formulation of ICL can be decomposed into a sum of convex functions of the given distance metric. Our experimental results indicate that models obtained by optimizing ICL achieve significantly better invariance to the extraneous variable for a fixed desired level of accuracy. In a variety of experimental settings, we show applicability of ICL for learning invariant representations for both continuous and discrete protected/extraneous variables.more »The project page with code is available at« less
  2. Datasets can be biased due to societal inequities, human biases, under-representation of minorities, etc. Our goal is to certify that models produced by a learning algorithm are pointwise-robust to dataset biases. This is a challenging problem: it entails learning models for a large, or even infinite, number of datasets, ensuring that they all produce the same prediction. We focus on decision-tree learning due to the interpretable nature of the models. Our approach allows programmatically specifying \emph{bias models} across a variety of dimensions (e.g., label-flipping or missing data), composing types of bias, and targeting bias towards a specific group. To certify robustness, we use a novel symbolic technique to evaluate a decision-tree learner on a large, or infinite, number of datasets, certifying that each and every dataset produces the same prediction for a specific test point. We evaluate our approach on datasets that are commonly used in the fairness literature, and demonstrate our approach's viability on a range of bias models.
  3. Algorithmic decision making based on computer vision and machine learning methods continues to permeate our lives. But issues related to biases of these models and the extent to which they treat certain segments of the population unfairly, have led to legitimate concerns. There is agreement that because of biases in the datasets we present to the models, a fairness-oblivious training will lead to unfair models. An interesting topic is the study of mechanisms via which the de novo design or training of the model can be informed by fairness measures. Here, we study strategies to impose fairness concurrently while training the model. While many fairness based approaches in vision rely on training adversarial modules together with the primary classification/regression task, in an effort to remove the influence of the protected attribute or variable, we show how ideas based on well-known optimization concepts can provide a simpler alternative. In our proposal, imposing fairness just requires specifying the protected attribute and utilizing our routine. We provide a detailed technical analysis and present experiments demonstrating that various fairness measures can be reliably imposed on a number of training tasks in vision in a manner that is interpretable.