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  1. Banerjee, A. ; Fukumizu, K. (Ed.)
    Variational autoencoders (VAEs) optimize an objective that comprises a reconstruction loss (the distortion) and a KL term (the rate). The rate is an upper bound on the mutual information, which is often interpreted as a regularizer that controls the degree of compression. We here examine whether inclusion of the rate term also improves generalization. We perform rate-distortion analyses in which we control the strength of the rate term, the network capacity, and the difficulty of the generalization problem. Lowering the strength of the rate term paradoxically improves generalization in most settings, and reducing the mutual information typically leads to underfitting. Moreover, we show that generalization performance continues to improve even after the mutual information saturates, indicating that the gap on the bound (i.e. the KL divergence relative to the inference marginal) affects generalization. This suggests that the standard spherical Gaussian prior is not an inductive bias that typically improves generalization, prompting further work to understand what choices of priors improve generalization in VAEs.
  2. Banerjee, A. ; Fukumizu, K. (Ed.)
    We establish the consistency of K-medoids in the context of metric spaces. We start by proving that K-medoids is asymptotically equivalent to K-means restricted to the support of the underlying distribution under general conditions, including a wide selection of loss functions. This asymptotic equivalence, in turn, enables us to apply the work of Pärna (1986) on the consistency of K-means. This general approach applies also to non-metric settings where only an ordering of the dissimilarities is available. We consider two types of ordinal information: one where all quadruple comparisons are available; and one where only triple comparisons are available. We provide some numerical experiments to illustrate our theory.
  3. Banerjee, A ; Fukumizu, K (Ed.)
    We present a novel off-policy loss function for learning a transition model in model-based reinforcement learning. Notably, our loss is derived from the off-policy policy evaluation objective with an emphasis on correcting distribution shift. Compared to previous model-based techniques, our approach allows for greater robustness under model mis-specification or distribution shift induced by learning/evaluating policies that are distinct from the data-generating policy. We provide a theoretical analysis and show empirical improvements over existing model-based off-policy evaluation methods. We provide further analysis showing our loss can be used for off-policy optimization (OPO) and demonstrate its integration with more recent improvements in OPO.