The remarkable practical success of deep learning has revealed some major surprises from a theoretical perspective. In particular, simple gradient methods easily find near-optimal solutions to non-convex optimization problems, and despite giving a near-perfect fit to training data without any explicit effort to control model complexity, these methods exhibit excellent predictive accuracy. We conjecture that specific principles underlie these phenomena: that overparametrization allows gradient methods to find interpolating solutions, that these methods implicitly impose regularization, and that overparametrization leads to benign overfitting. We survey recent theoretical progress that provides examples illustrating these principles in simpler settings. We first review classical uniform convergence results and why they fall short of explaining aspects of the behavior of deep learning methods. We give examples of implicit regularization in simple settings, where gradient methods lead to minimal norm functions that perfectly fit the training data. Then we review prediction methods that exhibit benign overfitting, focusing on regression problems with quadratic loss. For these methods, we can decompose the prediction rule into a simple component that is useful for prediction and a spiky component that is useful for overfitting but, in a favorable setting, does not harm prediction accuracy. We focus specifically on the linear regime for neural networks, where the network can be approximated by a linear model. In this regime, we demonstrate the success of gradient flow, and we consider benign overfitting with two-layer networks, giving an exact asymptotic analysis that precisely demonstrates the impact of overparametrization. We conclude by highlighting the key challenges that arise in extending these insights to realistic deep learning settings.
Graphs are widely used as a popular representation of the network structure of connected data. Graph data can be found in a broad spectrum of application domains such as social systems, ecosystems, biological networks, knowledge graphs, and information systems. With the continuous penetration of artificial intelligence technologies, graph learning (i.e., machine learning on graphs) is gaining attention from both researchers and practitioners. Graph learning proves effective for many tasks, such as classification, link prediction, and matching. Generally, graph learning methods extract relevant features of graphs by taking advantage of machine learning algorithms. In this survey, we present a comprehensive overview on the state-of-the-art of graph learning. Special attention is paid to four categories of existing graph learning methods, including graph signal processing, matrix factorization, random walk, and deep learning. Major models and algorithms under these categories are reviewed respectively. We examine graph learning applications in areas such as text, images, science, knowledge graphs, and combinatorial optimization. In addition, we discuss several promising research directions in this field.
Deep models trained in supervised mode have achieved remarkable success on a variety of tasks. When labeled samples are limited, self-supervised learning (SSL) is emerging as a new paradigm for making use of large amounts of unlabeled samples. SSL has achieved promising performance on natural language and image learning tasks. Recently, there is a trend to extend such success to graph data using graph neural networks (GNNs). In this survey, we provide a unified review of different ways of training GNNs using SSL. Specifically, we categorize SSL methods into contrastive and predictive models. In either category, we provide a unified framework for methods as well as how these methods differ in each component under the framework. Our unified treatment of SSL methods for GNNs sheds light on the similarities and differences of various methods, setting the stage for developing new methods and algorithms. We also summarize different SSL settings and the corresponding datasets used in each setting. To facilitate methodological development and empirical comparison, we develop a standardized testbed for SSL in GNNs, including implementations of common baseline methods, datasets, and evaluation metrics.
These are the notes for the lectures that I was giving during Fall 2020 at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and at the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA). The notes cover some aspects of initialization, loss landscape, generalization, and a neural tangent kernel theory. While many other topics (e.g. expressivity, a mean-field theory, a double descent phenomenon) are missing in the current version, we plan to add them in future revisions.
We study the offline meta-reinforcement learning (OMRL) problem, a paradigm which enables reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms to quickly adapt to unseen tasks without any interactions with the environments, making RL truly practical in many real-world applications. This problem is still not fully understood, for which two major challenges need to be addressed. First, offline RL usually suffers from bootstrapping errors of out-of-distribution state-actions which leads to divergence of value functions. Second, meta-RL requires efficient and robust task inference learned jointly with control policy. In this work, we enforce behavior regularization on learned policy as a general approach to offline RL, combined with a deterministic context encoder for efficient task inference. We propose a novel negative-power distance metric on bounded context embedding space, whose gradients propagation is detached from the Bellman backup. We provide analysis and insight showing that some simple design choices can yield substantial improvements over recent approaches involving meta-RL and distance metric learning. To the best of our knowledge, our method is the first model-free and end-to-end OMRL algorithm, which is computationally efficient and demonstrated to outperform prior algorithms on several meta-RL benchmarks.
We present a continuous formulation of machine learning, as a problem in the calculus of variations and differential-integral equations, very much in the spirit of classical numerical analysis and statistical physics. We demonstrate that conventional machine learning models and algorithms, such as the random feature model, the shallow neural network model and the residual neural network model, can all be recovered as particular discretizations of different continuous formulations. We also present examples of new models, such as the flow-based random feature model, and new algorithms, such as the smoothed particle method and spectral method, that arise naturally from this continuous formulation. We discuss how the issues of generalization error and implicit regularization can be studied under this framework.
When and why can a neural network be successfully trained? This article provides an overview of optimization algorithms and theory for training neural networks. First, we discuss the issue of gradient explosion/vanishing and the more general issue of undesirable spectrum, and then discuss practical solutions including careful initialization and normalization methods. Second, we review generic optimization methods used in training neural networks, such as SGD, adaptive gradient methods and distributed methods, and theoretical results for these algorithms. Third, we review existing research on the global issues of neural network training, including results on bad local minima, mode connectivity, lottery ticket hypothesis and infinite-width analysis.
Because of continuous advances in mathematical programing, Mix Integer Optimization has become a competitive vis-a-vis popular regularization method for selecting features in regression problems. The approach exhibits unquestionable foundational appeal and versatility, but also poses important challenges. We tackle these challenges, reducing computational burden when tuning the sparsity bound (a parameter which is critical for effectiveness) and improving performance in the presence of feature collinearity and of signals that vary in nature and strength. Importantly, we render the approach efficient and effective in applications of realistic size and complexity - without resorting to relaxations or heuristics in the optimization, or abandoning rigorous cross-validation tuning. Computational viability and improved performance in subtler scenarios is achieved with a multi-pronged blueprint, leveraging characteristics of the Mixed Integer Programming framework and by means of whitening, a data pre-processing step.
Deep learning (DL) is a high dimensional data reduction technique for constructing high-dimensional predictors in input-output models. DL is a form of machine learning that uses hierarchical layers of latent features. In this article, we review the state-of-the-art of deep learning from a modeling and algorithmic perspective. We provide a list of successful areas of applications in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Image Processing, Robotics and Automation. Deep learning is predictive in its nature rather then inferential and can be viewed as a black-box methodology for high-dimensional function estimation.
This manuscript surveys reinforcement learning from the perspective of optimization and control with a focus on continuous control applications. It surveys the general formulation, terminology, and typical experimental implementations of reinforcement learning and reviews competing solution paradigms. In order to compare the relative merits of various techniques, this survey presents a case study of the Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR) with unknown dynamics, perhaps the simplest and best studied problem in optimal control. The manuscript describes how merging techniques from learning theory and control can provide non-asymptotic characterizations of LQR performance and shows that these characterizations tend to match experimental behavior. In turn, when revisiting more complex applications, many of the observed phenomena in LQR persist. In particular, theory and experiment demonstrate the role and importance of models and the cost of generality in reinforcement learning algorithms. This survey concludes with a discussion of some of the challenges in designing learning systems that safely and reliably interact with complex and uncertain environments and how tools from reinforcement learning and controls might be combined to approach these challenges.
Recent years have witnessed significant progresses in deep Reinforcement Learning (RL). Empowered with large scale neural networks, carefully designed architectures, novel training algorithms and massively parallel computing devices, researchers are able to attack many challenging RL problems. However, in machine learning, more training power comes with a potential risk of more overfitting. As deep RL techniques are being applied to critical problems such as healthcare and finance, it is important to understand the generalization behaviors of the trained agents. In this paper, we conduct a systematic study of standard RL agents and find that they could overfit in various ways. Moreover, overfitting could happen "robustly": commonly used techniques in RL that add stochasticity do not necessarily prevent or detect overfitting. In particular, the same agents and learning algorithms could have drastically different test performance, even when all of them achieve optimal rewards during training. The observations call for more principled and careful evaluation protocols in RL. We conclude with a general discussion on overfitting in RL and a study of the generalization behaviors from the perspective of inductive bias.