We study the problem of learning a latent variable model from a stream of data. Latent variable models are popular in practice because they can explain observed data in terms of unobserved concepts. These models have been traditionally studied in the offline setting. In the online setting, on the other hand, the online EM is arguably the most popular algorithm for learning latent variable models. Although the online EM is computationally efficient, it typically converges to a local optimum. In this work, we develop a new online learning algorithm for latent variable models, which we call SpectralLeader. SpectralLeader always converges to the global optimum, and we derive a sublinear upper bound on its $n$-step regret in the bag-of-words model. In both synthetic and real-world experiments, we show that SpectralLeader performs similarly to or better than the online EM with tuned hyper-parameters.
Graph convolution networks (GCN) are increasingly popular in many applications, yet remain notoriously hard to train over large graph datasets. They need to compute node representations recursively from their neighbors. Current GCN training algorithms suffer from either high computational costs that grow exponentially with the number of layers, or high memory usage for loading the entire graph and node embeddings. In this paper, we propose a novel efficient layer-wise training framework for GCN (L-GCN), that disentangles feature aggregation and feature transformation during training, hence greatly reducing time and memory complexities. We present theoretical analysis for L-GCN under the graph isomorphism framework, that L-GCN leads to as powerful GCNs as the more costly conventional training algorithm does, under mild conditions. We further propose L^2-GCN, which learns a controller for each layer that can automatically adjust the training epochs per layer in L-GCN. Experiments show that L-GCN is faster than state-of-the-arts by at least an order of magnitude, with a consistent of memory usage not dependent on dataset size, while maintaining comparable prediction performance. With the learned controller, L^2-GCN can further cut the training time in half. Our codes are available at https://github.com/Shen-Lab/L2-GCN.
In this monograph, I introduce the basic concepts of Online Learning through a modern view of Online Convex Optimization. Here, online learning refers to the framework of regret minimization under worst-case assumptions. I present first-order and second-order algorithms for online learning with convex losses, in Euclidean and non-Euclidean settings. All the algorithms are clearly presented as instantiation of Online Mirror Descent or Follow-The-Regularized-Leader and their variants. Particular attention is given to the issue of tuning the parameters of the algorithms and learning in unbounded domains, through adaptive and parameter-free online learning algorithms. Non-convex losses are dealt through convex surrogate losses and through randomization. The bandit setting is also briefly discussed, touching on the problem of adversarial and stochastic multi-armed bandits. These notes do not require prior knowledge of convex analysis and all the required mathematical tools are rigorously explained. Moreover, all the proofs have been carefully chosen to be as simple and as short as possible.
Graph embedding aims to transfer a graph into vectors to facilitate subsequent graph analytics tasks like link prediction and graph clustering. Most approaches on graph embedding focus on preserving the graph structure or minimizing the reconstruction errors for graph data. They have mostly overlooked the embedding distribution of the latent codes, which unfortunately may lead to inferior representation in many cases. In this paper, we present a novel adversarially regularized framework for graph embedding. By employing the graph convolutional network as an encoder, our framework embeds the topological information and node content into a vector representation, from which a graph decoder is further built to reconstruct the input graph. The adversarial training principle is applied to enforce our latent codes to match a prior Gaussian or Uniform distribution. Based on this framework, we derive two variants of adversarial models, the adversarially regularized graph autoencoder (ARGA) and its variational version, adversarially regularized variational graph autoencoder (ARVGA), to learn the graph embedding effectively. We also exploit other potential variations of ARGA and ARVGA to get a deeper understanding on our designs. Experimental results compared among twelve algorithms for link prediction and twenty algorithms for graph clustering validate our solutions.
Proximal Policy Optimization (PPO) is a highly popular model-free reinforcement learning (RL) approach. However, in continuous state and actions spaces and a Gaussian policy -- common in computer animation and robotics -- PPO is prone to getting stuck in local optima. In this paper, we observe a tendency of PPO to prematurely shrink the exploration variance, which naturally leads to slow progress. Motivated by this, we borrow ideas from CMA-ES, a black-box optimization method designed for intelligent adaptive Gaussian exploration, to derive PPO-CMA, a novel proximal policy optimization approach that can expand the exploration variance on objective function slopes and shrink the variance when close to the optimum. This is implemented by using separate neural networks for policy mean and variance and training the mean and variance in separate passes. Our experiments demonstrate a clear improvement over vanilla PPO in many difficult OpenAI Gym MuJoCo tasks.
We propose a new method of estimation in topic models, that is not a variation on the existing simplex finding algorithms, and that estimates the number of topics K from the observed data. We derive new finite sample minimax lower bounds for the estimation of A, as well as new upper bounds for our proposed estimator. We describe the scenarios where our estimator is minimax adaptive. Our finite sample analysis is valid for any number of documents (n), individual document length (N_i), dictionary size (p) and number of topics (K), and both p and K are allowed to increase with n, a situation not handled well by previous analyses. We complement our theoretical results with a detailed simulation study. We illustrate that the new algorithm is faster and more accurate than the current ones, although we start out with a computational and theoretical disadvantage of not knowing the correct number of topics K, while we provide the competing methods with the correct value in our simulations.
Model-based methods for recommender systems have been studied extensively in recent years. In systems with large corpus, however, the calculation cost for the learnt model to predict all user-item preferences is tremendous, which makes full corpus retrieval extremely difficult. To overcome the calculation barriers, models such as matrix factorization resort to inner product form (i.e., model user-item preference as the inner product of user, item latent factors) and indexes to facilitate efficient approximate k-nearest neighbor searches. However, it still remains challenging to incorporate more expressive interaction forms between user and item features, e.g., interactions through deep neural networks, because of the calculation cost. In this paper, we focus on the problem of introducing arbitrary advanced models to recommender systems with large corpus. We propose a novel tree-based method which can provide logarithmic complexity w.r.t. corpus size even with more expressive models such as deep neural networks. Our main idea is to predict user interests from coarse to fine by traversing tree nodes in a top-down fashion and making decisions for each user-node pair. We also show that the tree structure can be jointly learnt towards better compatibility with users' interest distribution and hence facilitate both training and prediction. Experimental evaluations with two large-scale real-world datasets show that the proposed method significantly outperforms traditional methods. Online A/B test results in Taobao display advertising platform also demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method in production environments.
Metric learning learns a metric function from training data to calculate the similarity or distance between samples. From the perspective of feature learning, metric learning essentially learns a new feature space by feature transformation (e.g., Mahalanobis distance metric). However, traditional metric learning algorithms are shallow, which just learn one metric space (feature transformation). Can we further learn a better metric space from the learnt metric space? In other words, can we learn metric progressively and nonlinearly like deep learning by just using the existing metric learning algorithms? To this end, we present a hierarchical metric learning scheme and implement an online deep metric learning framework, namely ODML. Specifically, we take one online metric learning algorithm as a metric layer, followed by a nonlinear layer (i.e., ReLU), and then stack these layers modelled after the deep learning. The proposed ODML enjoys some nice properties, indeed can learn metric progressively and performs superiorly on some datasets. Various experiments with different settings have been conducted to verify these properties of the proposed ODML.
Probabilistic topic models are popular unsupervised learning methods, including probabilistic latent semantic indexing (pLSI) and latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA). By now, their training is implemented on general purpose computers (GPCs), which are flexible in programming but energy-consuming. Towards low-energy implementations, this paper investigates their training on an emerging hardware technology called the neuromorphic multi-chip systems (NMSs). NMSs are very effective for a family of algorithms called spiking neural networks (SNNs). We present three SNNs to train topic models. The first SNN is a batch algorithm combining the conventional collapsed Gibbs sampling (CGS) algorithm and an inference SNN to train LDA. The other two SNNs are online algorithms targeting at both energy- and storage-limited environments. The two online algorithms are equivalent with training LDA by using maximum-a-posterior estimation and maximizing the semi-collapsed likelihood, respectively. They use novel, tailored ordinary differential equations for stochastic optimization. We simulate the new algorithms and show that they are comparable with the GPC algorithms, while being suitable for NMS implementation. We also propose an extension to train pLSI and a method to prune the network to obey the limited fan-in of some NMSs.
Dynamic topic models (DTMs) model the evolution of prevalent themes in literature, online media, and other forms of text over time. DTMs assume that word co-occurrence statistics change continuously and therefore impose continuous stochastic process priors on their model parameters. These dynamical priors make inference much harder than in regular topic models, and also limit scalability. In this paper, we present several new results around DTMs. First, we extend the class of tractable priors from Wiener processes to the generic class of Gaussian processes (GPs). This allows us to explore topics that develop smoothly over time, that have a long-term memory or are temporally concentrated (for event detection). Second, we show how to perform scalable approximate inference in these models based on ideas around stochastic variational inference and sparse Gaussian processes. This way we can train a rich family of DTMs to massive data. Our experiments on several large-scale datasets show that our generalized model allows us to find interesting patterns that were not accessible by previous approaches.
In this paper, we develop the continuous time dynamic topic model (cDTM). The cDTM is a dynamic topic model that uses Brownian motion to model the latent topics through a sequential collection of documents, where a "topic" is a pattern of word use that we expect to evolve over the course of the collection. We derive an efficient variational approximate inference algorithm that takes advantage of the sparsity of observations in text, a property that lets us easily handle many time points. In contrast to the cDTM, the original discrete-time dynamic topic model (dDTM) requires that time be discretized. Moreover, the complexity of variational inference for the dDTM grows quickly as time granularity increases, a drawback which limits fine-grained discretization. We demonstrate the cDTM on two news corpora, reporting both predictive perplexity and the novel task of time stamp prediction.