Models, code, and papers for "Alexander Smola":

Direct Optimization of Ranking Measures

Apr 25, 2007
Quoc Le, Alexander Smola

Web page ranking and collaborative filtering require the optimization of sophisticated performance measures. Current Support Vector approaches are unable to optimize them directly and focus on pairwise comparisons instead. We present a new approach which allows direct optimization of the relevant loss functions. This is achieved via structured estimation in Hilbert spaces. It is most related to Max-Margin-Markov networks optimization of multivariate performance measures. Key to our approach is that during training the ranking problem can be viewed as a linear assignment problem, which can be solved by the Hungarian Marriage algorithm. At test time, a sort operation is sufficient, as our algorithm assigns a relevance score to every (document, query) pair. Experiments show that the our algorithm is fast and that it works very well.

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Slow Learners are Fast

Nov 03, 2009
John Langford, Alexander Smola, Martin Zinkevich

Online learning algorithms have impressive convergence properties when it comes to risk minimization and convex games on very large problems. However, they are inherently sequential in their design which prevents them from taking advantage of modern multi-core architectures. In this paper we prove that online learning with delayed updates converges well, thereby facilitating parallel online learning.

* Extended version of conference paper - NIPS 2009 

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P3O: Policy-on Policy-off Policy Optimization

May 05, 2019
Rasool Fakoor, Pratik Chaudhari, Alexander J. Smola

On-policy reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms have high sample complexity while off-policy algorithms are difficult to tune. Merging the two holds the promise to develop efficient algorithms that generalize across diverse environments. It is however challenging in practice to find suitable hyper-parameters that govern this trade off. This paper develops a simple algorithm named P3O that interleaves off-policy updates with on-policy updates. P3O uses the effective sample size between the behavior policy and the target policy to control how far they can be from each other and does not introduce any additional hyper-parameters. Extensive experiments on the Atari-2600 and MuJoCo benchmark suites show that this simple technique is highly effective in reducing the sample complexity of state-of-the-art algorithms.

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Language Models with Transformers

Apr 20, 2019
Chenguang Wang, Mu Li, Alexander J. Smola

The Transformer architecture is superior to RNN-based models in computational efficiency. Recently, GPT and BERT demonstrate the efficacy of Transformer models on various NLP tasks using pre-trained language models on large-scale corpora. Surprisingly, these Transformer architectures are suboptimal for language model itself. Neither self-attention nor the positional encoding in the Transformer is able to efficiently incorporate the word-level sequential context crucial to language modeling. In this paper, we explore effective Transformer architectures for language model, including adding additional LSTM layers to better capture the sequential context while still keeping the computation efficient. We propose Coordinate Architecture Search (CAS) to find an effective architecture through iterative refinement of the model. Experimental results on the PTB, WikiText-2, and WikiText-103 show that CAS achieves perplexities between 20.42 and 34.11 on all problems, i.e. on average an improvement of 12.0 perplexity units compared to state-of-the-art LSTMs.

* 12 pages, 7 tables, 4 figures 

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ACCAMS: Additive Co-Clustering to Approximate Matrices Succinctly

Dec 31, 2014
Alex Beutel, Amr Ahmed, Alexander J. Smola

Matrix completion and approximation are popular tools to capture a user's preferences for recommendation and to approximate missing data. Instead of using low-rank factorization we take a drastically different approach, based on the simple insight that an additive model of co-clusterings allows one to approximate matrices efficiently. This allows us to build a concise model that, per bit of model learned, significantly beats all factorization approaches to matrix approximation. Even more surprisingly, we find that summing over small co-clusterings is more effective in modeling matrices than classic co-clustering, which uses just one large partitioning of the matrix. Following Occam's razor principle suggests that the simple structure induced by our model better captures the latent preferences and decision making processes present in the real world than classic co-clustering or matrix factorization. We provide an iterative minimization algorithm, a collapsed Gibbs sampler, theoretical guarantees for matrix approximation, and excellent empirical evidence for the efficacy of our approach. We achieve state-of-the-art results on the Netflix problem with a fraction of the model complexity.

* 22 pages, under review for conference publication 

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Graph Partitioning via Parallel Submodular Approximation to Accelerate Distributed Machine Learning

May 18, 2015
Mu Li, Dave G. Andersen, Alexander J. Smola

Distributed computing excels at processing large scale data, but the communication cost for synchronizing the shared parameters may slow down the overall performance. Fortunately, the interactions between parameter and data in many problems are sparse, which admits efficient partition in order to reduce the communication overhead. In this paper, we formulate data placement as a graph partitioning problem. We propose a distributed partitioning algorithm. We give both theoretical guarantees and a highly efficient implementation. We also provide a highly efficient implementation of the algorithm and demonstrate its promising results on both text datasets and social networks. We show that the proposed algorithm leads to 1.6x speedup of a state-of-the-start distributed machine learning system by eliminating 90\% of the network communication.

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Fast Differentially Private Matrix Factorization

May 07, 2015
Ziqi Liu, Yu-Xiang Wang, Alexander J. Smola

Differentially private collaborative filtering is a challenging task, both in terms of accuracy and speed. We present a simple algorithm that is provably differentially private, while offering good performance, using a novel connection of differential privacy to Bayesian posterior sampling via Stochastic Gradient Langevin Dynamics. Due to its simplicity the algorithm lends itself to efficient implementation. By careful systems design and by exploiting the power law behavior of the data to maximize CPU cache bandwidth we are able to generate 1024 dimensional models at a rate of 8.5 million recommendations per second on a single PC.

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Fastfood: Approximate Kernel Expansions in Loglinear Time

Aug 13, 2014
Quoc Viet Le, Tamas Sarlos, Alexander Johannes Smola

Despite their successes, what makes kernel methods difficult to use in many large scale problems is the fact that storing and computing the decision function is typically expensive, especially at prediction time. In this paper, we overcome this difficulty by proposing Fastfood, an approximation that accelerates such computation significantly. Key to Fastfood is the observation that Hadamard matrices, when combined with diagonal Gaussian matrices, exhibit properties similar to dense Gaussian random matrices. Yet unlike the latter, Hadamard and diagonal matrices are inexpensive to multiply and store. These two matrices can be used in lieu of Gaussian matrices in Random Kitchen Sinks proposed by Rahimi and Recht (2009) and thereby speeding up the computation for a large range of kernel functions. Specifically, Fastfood requires O(n log d) time and O(n) storage to compute n non-linear basis functions in d dimensions, a significant improvement from O(nd) computation and storage, without sacrificing accuracy. Our method applies to any translation invariant and any dot-product kernel, such as the popular RBF kernels and polynomial kernels. We prove that the approximation is unbiased and has low variance. Experiments show that we achieve similar accuracy to full kernel expansions and Random Kitchen Sinks while being 100x faster and using 1000x less memory. These improvements, especially in terms of memory usage, make kernel methods more practical for applications that have large training sets and/or require real-time prediction.

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Robust Near-Isometric Matching via Structured Learning of Graphical Models

Sep 21, 2008
Julian J. McAuley, Tiberio S. Caetano, Alexander J. Smola

Models for near-rigid shape matching are typically based on distance-related features, in order to infer matches that are consistent with the isometric assumption. However, real shapes from image datasets, even when expected to be related by "almost isometric" transformations, are actually subject not only to noise but also, to some limited degree, to variations in appearance and scale. In this paper, we introduce a graphical model that parameterises appearance, distance, and angle features and we learn all of the involved parameters via structured prediction. The outcome is a model for near-rigid shape matching which is robust in the sense that it is able to capture the possibly limited but still important scale and appearance variations. Our experimental results reveal substantial improvements upon recent successful models, while maintaining similar running times.

* 11 pages, 9 figures 

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Sep 30, 2019
Rasool Fakoor, Pratik Chaudhari, Stefano Soatto, Alexander J. Smola

This paper introduces Meta-Q-Learning (MQL), a new off-policy algorithm for meta-Reinforcement Learning (meta-RL). MQL builds upon three simple ideas. First, we show that Q-learning is competitive with state of the art meta-RL algorithms if given access to a context variable that is a representation of the past trajectory. Second, using a multi-task objective to maximize the average reward across the training tasks is an effective method to meta-train RL policies. Third, past data from the meta-training replay buffer can be recycled to adapt the policy on a new task using off-policy updates. MQL draws upon ideas in propensity estimation to do so and thereby amplifies the amount of available data for adaptation. Experiments on standard continuous-control benchmarks suggest that MQL compares favorably with state of the art meta-RL algorithms.

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Fast and Guaranteed Tensor Decomposition via Sketching

Oct 20, 2015
Yining Wang, Hsiao-Yu Tung, Alexander Smola, Animashree Anandkumar

Tensor CANDECOMP/PARAFAC (CP) decomposition has wide applications in statistical learning of latent variable models and in data mining. In this paper, we propose fast and randomized tensor CP decomposition algorithms based on sketching. We build on the idea of count sketches, but introduce many novel ideas which are unique to tensors. We develop novel methods for randomized computation of tensor contractions via FFTs, without explicitly forming the tensors. Such tensor contractions are encountered in decomposition methods such as tensor power iterations and alternating least squares. We also design novel colliding hashes for symmetric tensors to further save time in computing the sketches. We then combine these sketching ideas with existing whitening and tensor power iterative techniques to obtain the fastest algorithm on both sparse and dense tensors. The quality of approximation under our method does not depend on properties such as sparsity, uniformity of elements, etc. We apply the method for topic modeling and obtain competitive results.

* 29 pages. Appeared in Proceedings of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), held at Montreal, Canada in 2015 

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Transformer on a Diet

Feb 14, 2020
Chenguang Wang, Zihao Ye, Aston Zhang, Zheng Zhang, Alexander J. Smola

Transformer has been widely used thanks to its ability to capture sequence information in an efficient way. However, recent developments, such as BERT and GPT-2, deliver only heavy architectures with a focus on effectiveness. In this paper, we explore three carefully-designed light Transformer architectures to figure out whether the Transformer with less computations could produce competitive results. Experimental results on language model benchmark datasets hint that such trade-off is promising, and the light Transformer reduces 70% parameters at best, while obtains competitive perplexity compared to standard Transformer. The source code is publicly available.

* 6 pages, 2 tables, 1 figure 

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Sampling Matters in Deep Embedding Learning

Jan 16, 2018
Chao-Yuan Wu, R. Manmatha, Alexander J. Smola, Philipp Krähenbühl

Deep embeddings answer one simple question: How similar are two images? Learning these embeddings is the bedrock of verification, zero-shot learning, and visual search. The most prominent approaches optimize a deep convolutional network with a suitable loss function, such as contrastive loss or triplet loss. While a rich line of work focuses solely on the loss functions, we show in this paper that selecting training examples plays an equally important role. We propose distance weighted sampling, which selects more informative and stable examples than traditional approaches. In addition, we show that a simple margin based loss is sufficient to outperform all other loss functions. We evaluate our approach on the Stanford Online Products, CAR196, and the CUB200-2011 datasets for image retrieval and clustering, and on the LFW dataset for face verification. Our method achieves state-of-the-art performance on all of them.

* Add supplementary material. Paper published in ICCV 2017 

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Explaining reviews and ratings with PACO: Poisson Additive Co-Clustering

Dec 06, 2015
Chao-Yuan Wu, Alex Beutel, Amr Ahmed, Alexander J. Smola

Understanding a user's motivations provides valuable information beyond the ability to recommend items. Quite often this can be accomplished by perusing both ratings and review texts, since it is the latter where the reasoning for specific preferences is explicitly expressed. Unfortunately matrix factorization approaches to recommendation result in large, complex models that are difficult to interpret and give recommendations that are hard to clearly explain to users. In contrast, in this paper, we attack this problem through succinct additive co-clustering. We devise a novel Bayesian technique for summing co-clusterings of Poisson distributions. With this novel technique we propose a new Bayesian model for joint collaborative filtering of ratings and text reviews through a sum of simple co-clusterings. The simple structure of our model yields easily interpretable recommendations. Even with a simple, succinct structure, our model outperforms competitors in terms of predicting ratings with reviews.

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AdaDelay: Delay Adaptive Distributed Stochastic Convex Optimization

Aug 20, 2015
Suvrit Sra, Adams Wei Yu, Mu Li, Alexander J. Smola

We study distributed stochastic convex optimization under the delayed gradient model where the server nodes perform parameter updates, while the worker nodes compute stochastic gradients. We discuss, analyze, and experiment with a setup motivated by the behavior of real-world distributed computation networks, where the machines are differently slow at different time. Therefore, we allow the parameter updates to be sensitive to the actual delays experienced, rather than to worst-case bounds on the maximum delay. This sensitivity leads to larger stepsizes, that can help gain rapid initial convergence without having to wait too long for slower machines, while maintaining the same asymptotic complexity. We obtain encouraging improvements to overall convergence for distributed experiments on real datasets with up to billions of examples and features.

* 19 pages 

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A la Carte - Learning Fast Kernels

Dec 19, 2014
Zichao Yang, Alexander J. Smola, Le Song, Andrew Gordon Wilson

Kernel methods have great promise for learning rich statistical representations of large modern datasets. However, compared to neural networks, kernel methods have been perceived as lacking in scalability and flexibility. We introduce a family of fast, flexible, lightly parametrized and general purpose kernel learning methods, derived from Fastfood basis function expansions. We provide mechanisms to learn the properties of groups of spectral frequencies in these expansions, which require only O(mlogd) time and O(m) memory, for m basis functions and d input dimensions. We show that the proposed methods can learn a wide class of kernels, outperforming the alternatives in accuracy, speed, and memory consumption.

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Variational Reasoning for Question Answering with Knowledge Graph

Nov 27, 2017
Yuyu Zhang, Hanjun Dai, Zornitsa Kozareva, Alexander J. Smola, Le Song

Knowledge graph (KG) is known to be helpful for the task of question answering (QA), since it provides well-structured relational information between entities, and allows one to further infer indirect facts. However, it is challenging to build QA systems which can learn to reason over knowledge graphs based on question-answer pairs alone. First, when people ask questions, their expressions are noisy (for example, typos in texts, or variations in pronunciations), which is non-trivial for the QA system to match those mentioned entities to the knowledge graph. Second, many questions require multi-hop logic reasoning over the knowledge graph to retrieve the answers. To address these challenges, we propose a novel and unified deep learning architecture, and an end-to-end variational learning algorithm which can handle noise in questions, and learn multi-hop reasoning simultaneously. Our method achieves state-of-the-art performance on a recent benchmark dataset in the literature. We also derive a series of new benchmark datasets, including questions for multi-hop reasoning, questions paraphrased by neural translation model, and questions in human voice. Our method yields very promising results on all these challenging datasets.

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A Kernel Method for the Two-Sample Problem

May 15, 2008
Arthur Gretton, Karsten Borgwardt, Malte J. Rasch, Bernhard Scholkopf, Alexander J. Smola

We propose a framework for analyzing and comparing distributions, allowing us to design statistical tests to determine if two samples are drawn from different distributions. Our test statistic is the largest difference in expectations over functions in the unit ball of a reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS). We present two tests based on large deviation bounds for the test statistic, while a third is based on the asymptotic distribution of this statistic. The test statistic can be computed in quadratic time, although efficient linear time approximations are available. Several classical metrics on distributions are recovered when the function space used to compute the difference in expectations is allowed to be more general (eg. a Banach space). We apply our two-sample tests to a variety of problems, including attribute matching for databases using the Hungarian marriage method, where they perform strongly. Excellent performance is also obtained when comparing distributions over graphs, for which these are the first such tests.

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Instance Hash Segmentation

Jun 10, 2018
Joachim D. Curtó, Irene C. Zarza, Alexander J. Smola, Luc Van Gool

We propose a novel approach to address the Simultaneous Detection and Segmentation problem. Using hierarchical structures we use an efficient and accurate procedure that exploits the hierarchy feature information using Locality Sensitive Hashing. We build on recent work that utilizes convolutional neural networks to detect bounding boxes in an image and then use the top similar hierarchical region that best fits each bounding box after hashing, we call this approach iSegmentation. We then refine our final segmentation results by automatic hierarchy pruning. iSegmentation introduces a train-free alternative to Hypercolumns. We conduct extensive experiments on PASCAL VOC 2012 segmentation dataset, showing that iSegmentation gives competitive state-of-the-art object segmentations.

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Deep Sets

Apr 14, 2018
Manzil Zaheer, Satwik Kottur, Siamak Ravanbakhsh, Barnabas Poczos, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, Alexander Smola

We study the problem of designing models for machine learning tasks defined on \emph{sets}. In contrast to traditional approach of operating on fixed dimensional vectors, we consider objective functions defined on sets that are invariant to permutations. Such problems are widespread, ranging from estimation of population statistics \cite{poczos13aistats}, to anomaly detection in piezometer data of embankment dams \cite{Jung15Exploration}, to cosmology \cite{Ntampaka16Dynamical,Ravanbakhsh16ICML1}. Our main theorem characterizes the permutation invariant functions and provides a family of functions to which any permutation invariant objective function must belong. This family of functions has a special structure which enables us to design a deep network architecture that can operate on sets and which can be deployed on a variety of scenarios including both unsupervised and supervised learning tasks. We also derive the necessary and sufficient conditions for permutation equivariance in deep models. We demonstrate the applicability of our method on population statistic estimation, point cloud classification, set expansion, and outlier detection.

* NIPS 2017 

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