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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Subseasonal climate forecasting is the task of predicting climate variables, such as temperature and precipitation, in a two-week to two-month time horizon. The primary predictors for such prediction problem are spatio-temporal satellite and ground measurements of a variety of climate variables in the atmosphere, ocean, and land, which however have rather limited predictive signal at the subseasonal time horizon. We propose a carefully constructed spatial hierarchical Bayesian regression model that makes use of the inherent spatial structure of the subseasonal climate prediction task. We use our Bayesian model to then derive decision-theoretically optimal point estimates with respect to various performance measures of interest to climate science. As we show, our approach handily improves on various off-the-shelf ML baselines. Since our method is based on a Bayesian frame- work, we are also able to quantify the uncertainty in our predictions, which is particularly crucial for difficult tasks such as the subseasonal prediction, where we expect any model to have considerable uncertainty at different test locations under differ- ent scenarios.