Attention mechanisms in biological perception are thought to select subsets of perceptual information for more sophisticated processing which would be prohibitive to perform on all sensory inputs. In computer vision, however, there has been relatively little exploration of hard attention, where some information is selectively ignored, in spite of the success of soft attention, where information is re-weighted and aggregated, but never filtered out. Here, we introduce a new approach for hard attention and find it achieves very competitive performance on a recently-released visual question answering datasets, equalling and in some cases surpassing similar soft attention architectures while entirely ignoring some features. Even though the hard attention mechanism is thought to be non-differentiable, we found that the feature magnitudes correlate with semantic relevance, and provide a useful signal for our mechanism's attentional selection criterion. Because hard attention selects important features of the input information, it can also be more efficient than analogous soft attention mechanisms. This is especially important for recent approaches that use non-local pairwise operations, whereby computational and memory costs are quadratic in the size of the set of features.

* ECCV 2018
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Despite recent breakthroughs in the applications of deep neural networks, one setting that presents a persistent challenge is that of "one-shot learning." Traditional gradient-based networks require a lot of data to learn, often through extensive iterative training. When new data is encountered, the models must inefficiently relearn their parameters to adequately incorporate the new information without catastrophic interference. Architectures with augmented memory capacities, such as Neural Turing Machines (NTMs), offer the ability to quickly encode and retrieve new information, and hence can potentially obviate the downsides of conventional models. Here, we demonstrate the ability of a memory-augmented neural network to rapidly assimilate new data, and leverage this data to make accurate predictions after only a few samples. We also introduce a new method for accessing an external memory that focuses on memory content, unlike previous methods that additionally use memory location-based focusing mechanisms.

* 13 pages, 8 figures
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The backpropagation of error algorithm (BP) is often said to be impossible to implement in a real brain. The recent success of deep networks in machine learning and AI, however, has inspired proposals for understanding how the brain might learn across multiple layers, and hence how it might implement or approximate BP. As of yet, none of these proposals have been rigorously evaluated on tasks where BP-guided deep learning has proved critical, or in architectures more structured than simple fully-connected networks. Here we present the first results on scaling up biologically motivated models of deep learning on datasets which need deep networks with appropriate architectures to achieve good performance. We present results on the MNIST, CIFAR-10, and ImageNet datasets and explore variants of target-propagation (TP) and feedback alignment (FA) algorithms, and explore performance in both fully- and locally-connected architectures. We also introduce weight-transport-free variants of difference target propagation (DTP) modified to remove backpropagation from the penultimate layer. Many of these algorithms perform well for MNIST, but for CIFAR and ImageNet we find that TP and FA variants perform significantly worse than BP, especially for networks composed of locally connected units, opening questions about whether new architectures and algorithms are required to scale these approaches. Our results and implementation details help establish baselines for biologically motivated deep learning schemes going forward.

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Deep neural networks (DNNs) have achieved unprecedented performance on a wide range of complex tasks, rapidly outpacing our understanding of the nature of their solutions. This has caused a recent surge of interest in methods for rendering modern neural systems more interpretable. In this work, we propose to address the interpretability problem in modern DNNs using the rich history of problem descriptions, theories and experimental methods developed by cognitive psychologists to study the human mind. To explore the potential value of these tools, we chose a well-established analysis from developmental psychology that explains how children learn word labels for objects, and applied that analysis to DNNs. Using datasets of stimuli inspired by the original cognitive psychology experiments, we find that state-of-the-art one shot learning models trained on ImageNet exhibit a similar bias to that observed in humans: they prefer to categorize objects according to shape rather than color. The magnitude of this shape bias varies greatly among architecturally identical, but differently seeded models, and even fluctuates within seeds throughout training, despite nearly equivalent classification performance. These results demonstrate the capability of tools from cognitive psychology for exposing hidden computational properties of DNNs, while concurrently providing us with a computational model for human word learning.

* ICML 2017
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Our world can be succinctly and compactly described as structured scenes of objects and relations. A typical room, for example, contains salient objects such as tables, chairs and books, and these objects typically relate to each other by their underlying causes and semantics. This gives rise to correlated features, such as position, function and shape. Humans exploit knowledge of objects and their relations for learning a wide spectrum of tasks, and more generally when learning the structure underlying observed data. In this work, we introduce relation networks (RNs) - a general purpose neural network architecture for object-relation reasoning. We show that RNs are capable of learning object relations from scene description data. Furthermore, we show that RNs can act as a bottleneck that induces the factorization of objects from entangled scene description inputs, and from distributed deep representations of scene images provided by a variational autoencoder. The model can also be used in conjunction with differentiable memory mechanisms for implicit relation discovery in one-shot learning tasks. Our results suggest that relation networks are a potentially powerful architecture for solving a variety of problems that require object relation reasoning.

* ICLR Workshop 2017
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Analogical reasoning has been a principal focus of various waves of AI research. Analogy is particularly challenging for machines because it requires relational structures to be represented such that they can be flexibly applied across diverse domains of experience. Here, we study how analogical reasoning can be induced in neural networks that learn to perceive and reason about raw visual data. We find that the critical factor for inducing such a capacity is not an elaborate architecture, but rather, careful attention to the choice of data and the manner in which it is presented to the model. The most robust capacity for analogical reasoning is induced when networks learn analogies by contrasting abstract relational structures in their input domains, a training method that uses only the input data to force models to learn about important abstract features. Using this technique we demonstrate capacities for complex, visual and symbolic analogy making and generalisation in even the simplest neural network architectures.

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Whether neural networks can learn abstract reasoning or whether they merely rely on superficial statistics is a topic of recent debate. Here, we propose a dataset and challenge designed to probe abstract reasoning, inspired by a well-known human IQ test. To succeed at this challenge, models must cope with various generalisation `regimes' in which the training and test data differ in clearly-defined ways. We show that popular models such as ResNets perform poorly, even when the training and test sets differ only minimally, and we present a novel architecture, with a structure designed to encourage reasoning, that does significantly better. When we vary the way in which the test questions and training data differ, we find that our model is notably proficient at certain forms of generalisation, but notably weak at others. We further show that the model's ability to generalise improves markedly if it is trained to predict symbolic explanations for its answers. Altogether, we introduce and explore ways to both measure and induce stronger abstract reasoning in neural networks. Our freely-available dataset should motivate further progress in this direction.

* ICML 2018
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Relational reasoning is a central component of generally intelligent behavior, but has proven difficult for neural networks to learn. In this paper we describe how to use Relation Networks (RNs) as a simple plug-and-play module to solve problems that fundamentally hinge on relational reasoning. We tested RN-augmented networks on three tasks: visual question answering using a challenging dataset called CLEVR, on which we achieve state-of-the-art, super-human performance; text-based question answering using the bAbI suite of tasks; and complex reasoning about dynamic physical systems. Then, using a curated dataset called Sort-of-CLEVR we show that powerful convolutional networks do not have a general capacity to solve relational questions, but can gain this capacity when augmented with RNs. Our work shows how a deep learning architecture equipped with an RN module can implicitly discover and learn to reason about entities and their relations.

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We consider the general problem of modeling temporal data with long-range dependencies, wherein new observations are fully or partially predictable based on temporally-distant, past observations. A sufficiently powerful temporal model should separate predictable elements of the sequence from unpredictable elements, express uncertainty about those unpredictable elements, and rapidly identify novel elements that may help to predict the future. To create such models, we introduce Generative Temporal Models augmented with external memory systems. They are developed within the variational inference framework, which provides both a practical training methodology and methods to gain insight into the models' operation. We show, on a range of problems with sparse, long-term temporal dependencies, that these models store information from early in a sequence, and reuse this stored information efficiently. This allows them to perform substantially better than existing models based on well-known recurrent neural networks, like LSTMs.

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Memory-based neural networks model temporal data by leveraging an ability to remember information for long periods. It is unclear, however, whether they also have an ability to perform complex relational reasoning with the information they remember. Here, we first confirm our intuitions that standard memory architectures may struggle at tasks that heavily involve an understanding of the ways in which entities are connected -- i.e., tasks involving relational reasoning. We then improve upon these deficits by using a new memory module -- a \textit{Relational Memory Core} (RMC) -- which employs multi-head dot product attention to allow memories to interact. Finally, we test the RMC on a suite of tasks that may profit from more capable relational reasoning across sequential information, and show large gains in RL domains (e.g. Mini PacMan), program evaluation, and language modeling, achieving state-of-the-art results on the WikiText-103, Project Gutenberg, and GigaWord datasets.

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We introduce hyperbolic attention networks to endow neural networks with enough capacity to match the complexity of data with hierarchical and power-law structure. A few recent approaches have successfully demonstrated the benefits of imposing hyperbolic geometry on the parameters of shallow networks. We extend this line of work by imposing hyperbolic geometry on the activations of neural networks. This allows us to exploit hyperbolic geometry to reason about embeddings produced by deep networks. We achieve this by re-expressing the ubiquitous mechanism of soft attention in terms of operations defined for hyperboloid and Klein models. Our method shows improvements in terms of generalization on neural machine translation, learning on graphs and visual question answering tasks while keeping the neural representations compact.

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The field of reinforcement learning (RL) is facing increasingly challenging domains with combinatorial complexity. For an RL agent to address these challenges, it is essential that it can plan effectively. Prior work has typically utilized an explicit model of the environment, combined with a specific planning algorithm (such as tree search). More recently, a new family of methods have been proposed that learn how to plan, by providing the structure for planning via an inductive bias in the function approximator (such as a tree structured neural network), trained end-to-end by a model-free RL algorithm. In this paper, we go even further, and demonstrate empirically that an entirely model-free approach, without special structure beyond standard neural network components such as convolutional networks and LSTMs, can learn to exhibit many of the characteristics typically associated with a model-based planner. We measure our agent's effectiveness at planning in terms of its ability to generalize across a combinatorial and irreversible state space, its data efficiency, and its ability to utilize additional thinking time. We find that our agent has many of the characteristics that one might expect to find in a planning algorithm. Furthermore, it exceeds the state-of-the-art in challenging combinatorial domains such as Sokoban and outperforms other model-free approaches that utilize strong inductive biases toward planning.

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We introduce an approach for deep reinforcement learning (RL) that improves upon the efficiency, generalization capacity, and interpretability of conventional approaches through structured perception and relational reasoning. It uses self-attention to iteratively reason about the relations between entities in a scene and to guide a model-free policy. Our results show that in a novel navigation and planning task called Box-World, our agent finds interpretable solutions that improve upon baselines in terms of sample complexity, ability to generalize to more complex scenes than experienced during training, and overall performance. In the StarCraft II Learning Environment, our agent achieves state-of-the-art performance on six mini-games -- surpassing human grandmaster performance on four. By considering architectural inductive biases, our work opens new directions for overcoming important, but stubborn, challenges in deep RL.

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Animals execute goal-directed behaviours despite the limited range and scope of their sensors. To cope, they explore environments and store memories maintaining estimates of important information that is not presently available. Recently, progress has been made with artificial intelligence (AI) agents that learn to perform tasks from sensory input, even at a human level, by merging reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms with deep neural networks, and the excitement surrounding these results has led to the pursuit of related ideas as explanations of non-human animal learning. However, we demonstrate that contemporary RL algorithms struggle to solve simple tasks when enough information is concealed from the sensors of the agent, a property called "partial observability". An obvious requirement for handling partially observed tasks is access to extensive memory, but we show memory is not enough; it is critical that the right information be stored in the right format. We develop a model, the Memory, RL, and Inference Network (MERLIN), in which memory formation is guided by a process of predictive modeling. MERLIN facilitates the solution of tasks in 3D virtual reality environments for which partial observability is severe and memories must be maintained over long durations. Our model demonstrates a single learning agent architecture that can solve canonical behavioural tasks in psychology and neurobiology without strong simplifying assumptions about the dimensionality of sensory input or the duration of experiences.

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has undergone a renaissance recently, making major progress in key domains such as vision, language, control, and decision-making. This has been due, in part, to cheap data and cheap compute resources, which have fit the natural strengths of deep learning. However, many defining characteristics of human intelligence, which developed under much different pressures, remain out of reach for current approaches. In particular, generalizing beyond one's experiences--a hallmark of human intelligence from infancy--remains a formidable challenge for modern AI. The following is part position paper, part review, and part unification. We argue that combinatorial generalization must be a top priority for AI to achieve human-like abilities, and that structured representations and computations are key to realizing this objective. Just as biology uses nature and nurture cooperatively, we reject the false choice between "hand-engineering" and "end-to-end" learning, and instead advocate for an approach which benefits from their complementary strengths. We explore how using relational inductive biases within deep learning architectures can facilitate learning about entities, relations, and rules for composing them. We present a new building block for the AI toolkit with a strong relational inductive bias--the graph network--which generalizes and extends various approaches for neural networks that operate on graphs, and provides a straightforward interface for manipulating structured knowledge and producing structured behaviors. We discuss how graph networks can support relational reasoning and combinatorial generalization, laying the foundation for more sophisticated, interpretable, and flexible patterns of reasoning. As a companion to this paper, we have released an open-source software library for building graph networks, with demonstrations of how to use them in practice.

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