Research papers and code for "Jaime Carbonell":
Multi-source transfer learning has been proven effective when within-target labeled data is scarce. Previous work focuses primarily on exploiting domain similarities and assumes that source domains are richly or at least comparably labeled. While this strong assumption is never true in practice, this paper relaxes it and addresses challenges related to sources with diverse labeling volume and diverse reliability. The first challenge is combining domain similarity and source reliability by proposing a new transfer learning method that utilizes both source-target similarities and inter-source relationships. The second challenge involves pool-based active learning where the oracle is only available in source domains, resulting in an integrated active transfer learning framework that incorporates distribution matching and uncertainty sampling. Extensive experiments on synthetic and two real-world datasets clearly demonstrate the superiority of our proposed methods over several baselines including state-of-the-art transfer learning methods.

* ECML-PKDD 2018
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This paper introduces self-paced task selection to multitask learning, where instances from more closely related tasks are selected in a progression of easier-to-harder tasks, to emulate an effective human education strategy, but applied to multitask machine learning. We develop the mathematical foundation for the approach based on iterative selection of the most appropriate task, learning the task parameters, and updating the shared knowledge, optimizing a new bi-convex loss function. This proposed method applies quite generally, including to multitask feature learning, multitask learning with alternating structure optimization, etc. Results show that in each of the above formulations self-paced (easier-to-harder) task selection outperforms the baseline version of these methods in all the experiments.

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This paper presents a novel multitask multiple kernel learning framework that efficiently learns the kernel weights leveraging the relationship across multiple tasks. The idea is to automatically infer this task relationship in the \textit{RKHS} space corresponding to the given base kernels. The problem is formulated as a regularization-based approach called \textit{Multi-Task Multiple Kernel Relationship Learning} (\textit{MK-MTRL}), which models the task relationship matrix from the weights learned from latent feature spaces of task-specific base kernels. Unlike in previous work, the proposed formulation allows one to incorporate prior knowledge for simultaneously learning several related tasks. We propose an alternating minimization algorithm to learn the model parameters, kernel weights and task relationship matrix. In order to tackle large-scale problems, we further propose a two-stage \textit{MK-MTRL} online learning algorithm and show that it significantly reduces the computational time, and also achieves performance comparable to that of the joint learning framework. Experimental results on benchmark datasets show that the proposed formulations outperform several state-of-the-art multitask learning methods.

* 17th SIAM International Conference on Data Mining (SDM 2017), Houston, Texas, USA, 2017
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For a long time, designing neural architectures that exhibit high performance was considered a dark art that required expert hand-tuning. One of the few well-known guidelines for architecture design is the avoidance of exploding gradients, though even this guideline has remained relatively vague and circumstantial. We introduce the nonlinearity coefficient (NLC), a measurement of the complexity of the function computed by a neural network that is based on the magnitude of the gradient. Via an extensive empirical study, we show that the NLC is a powerful predictor of test error and that attaining a right-sized NLC is essential for optimal performance. The NLC exhibits a range of intriguing and important properties. It is closely tied to the amount of information gained from computing a single network gradient. It is tied to the error incurred when replacing the nonlinearity operations in the network with linear operations. It is not susceptible to the confounders of multiplicative scaling, additive bias and layer width. It is stable from layer to layer. Hence, we argue that the NLC is the first robust predictor of overfitting in deep networks.

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Automatically determining the optimal size of a neural network for a given task without prior information currently requires an expensive global search and training many networks from scratch. In this paper, we address the problem of automatically finding a good network size during a single training cycle. We introduce *nonparametric neural networks*, a non-probabilistic framework for conducting optimization over all possible network sizes and prove its soundness when network growth is limited via an L_p penalty. We train networks under this framework by continuously adding new units while eliminating redundant units via an L_2 penalty. We employ a novel optimization algorithm, which we term *adaptive radial-angular gradient descent* or *AdaRad*, and obtain promising results.

* ICLR 2017
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Bayesian posterior inference is prevalent in various machine learning problems. Variational inference provides one way to approximate the posterior distribution, however its expressive power is limited and so is the accuracy of resulting approximation. Recently, there has a trend of using neural networks to approximate the variational posterior distribution due to the flexibility of neural network architecture. One way to construct flexible variational distribution is to warp a simple density into a complex by normalizing flows, where the resulting density can be analytically evaluated. However, there is a trade-off between the flexibility of normalizing flow and computation cost for efficient transformation. In this paper, we propose a simple yet effective architecture of normalizing flows, ConvFlow, based on convolution over the dimensions of random input vector. Experiments on synthetic and real world posterior inference problems demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed method.

* ICML 2018 Workshop on Theoretical Foundations and Applications of Deep Generative Models
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Variational inference for latent variable models is prevalent in various machine learning problems, typically solved by maximizing the Evidence Lower Bound (ELBO) of the true data likelihood with respect to a variational distribution. However, freely enriching the family of variational distribution is challenging since the ELBO requires variational likelihood evaluations of the latent variables. In this paper, we propose a novel framework to enrich the variational family by incorporating auxiliary variables to the variational family. The resulting inference network doesn't require density evaluations for the auxiliary variables and thus complex implicit densities over the auxiliary variables can be constructed by neural networks. It can be shown that the actual variational posterior of the proposed approach is essentially modeling a rich probabilistic mixture of simple variational posterior indexed by auxiliary variables, thus a flexible inference model can be built. Empirical evaluations on several density estimation tasks demonstrates the effectiveness of the proposed method.

* ICML 2018 Workshop on Theoretical Foundations and Applications of Deep Generative Models
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This paper presents a new multitask learning framework that learns a shared representation among the tasks, incorporating both task and feature clusters. The jointly-induced clusters yield a shared latent subspace where task relationships are learned more effectively and more generally than in state-of-the-art multitask learning methods. The proposed general framework enables the derivation of more specific or restricted state-of-the-art multitask methods. The paper also proposes a highly-scalable multitask learning algorithm, based on the new framework, using conjugate gradient descent and generalized \textit{Sylvester equations}. Experimental results on synthetic and benchmark datasets show that the proposed method systematically outperforms several state-of-the-art multitask learning methods.

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We study the optimal rates of convergence for estimating a prior distribution over a VC class from a sequence of independent data sets respectively labeled by independent target functions sampled from the prior. We specifically derive upper and lower bounds on the optimal rates under a smoothness condition on the correct prior, with the number of samples per data set equal the VC dimension. These results have implications for the improvements achievable via transfer learning. We additionally extend this setting to real-valued function, where we establish consistency of an estimator for the prior, and discuss an additional application to a preference elicitation problem in algorithmic economics.

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Whereas it is believed that techniques such as Adam, batch normalization and, more recently, SeLU nonlinearities "solve" the exploding gradient problem, we show that this is not the case in general and that in a range of popular MLP architectures, exploding gradients exist and that they limit the depth to which networks can be effectively trained, both in theory and in practice. We explain why exploding gradients occur and highlight the *collapsing domain problem*, which can arise in architectures that avoid exploding gradients. ResNets have significantly lower gradients and thus can circumvent the exploding gradient problem, enabling the effective training of much deeper networks. We show this is a direct consequence of the Pythagorean equation. By noticing that *any neural network is a residual network*, we devise the *residual trick*, which reveals that introducing skip connections simplifies the network mathematically, and that this simplicity may be the major cause for their success.

* An earlier version of this paper was named "Gradients explode - Deep Networks are shallow - ResNet explained" and presented at the ICLR 2018 workshop (https://openreview.net/forum?id=rJjcdFkPM)
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It has been previously noted that neural machine translation (NMT) is very sensitive to domain shift. In this paper, we argue that this is a dual effect of the highly lexicalized nature of NMT, resulting in failure for sentences with large numbers of unknown words, and lack of supervision for domain-specific words. To remedy this problem, we propose an unsupervised adaptation method which fine-tunes a pre-trained out-of-domain NMT model using a pseudo-in-domain corpus. Specifically, we perform lexicon induction to extract an in-domain lexicon, and construct a pseudo-parallel in-domain corpus by performing word-for-word back-translation of monolingual in-domain target sentences. In five domains over twenty pairwise adaptation settings and two model architectures, our method achieves consistent improvements without using any in-domain parallel sentences, improving up to 14 BLEU over unadapted models, and up to 2 BLEU over strong back-translation baselines.

* published at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL). July 2019
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When labeled data is scarce for a specific target task, transfer learning often offers an effective solution by utilizing data from a related source task. However, when transferring knowledge from a less related source, it may inversely hurt the target performance, a phenomenon known as negative transfer. Despite its pervasiveness, negative transfer is usually described in an informal manner, lacking rigorous definition, careful analysis, or systematic treatment. This paper proposes a formal definition of negative transfer and analyzes three important aspects thereof. Stemming from this analysis, a novel technique is proposed to circumvent negative transfer by filtering out unrelated source data. Based on adversarial networks, the technique is highly generic and can be applied to a wide range of transfer learning algorithms. The proposed approach is evaluated on six state-of-the-art deep transfer methods via experiments on four benchmark datasets with varying levels of difficulty. Empirically, the proposed method consistently improves the performance of all baseline methods and largely avoids negative transfer, even when the source data is degenerate.

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Cross-lingual entity linking maps an entity mention in a source language to its corresponding entry in a structured knowledge base that is in a different (target) language. While previous work relies heavily on bilingual lexical resources to bridge the gap between the source and the target languages, these resources are scarce or unavailable for many low-resource languages. To address this problem, we investigate zero-shot cross-lingual entity linking, in which we assume no bilingual lexical resources are available in the source low-resource language. Specifically, we propose pivot-based entity linking, which leverages information from a high-resource "pivot" language to train character-level neural entity linking models that are transferred to the source low-resource language in a zero-shot manner. With experiments on 9 low-resource languages and transfer through a total of 54 languages, we show that our proposed pivot-based framework improves entity linking accuracy 17% (absolute) on average over the baseline systems, for the zero-shot scenario. Further, we also investigate the use of language-universal phonological representations which improves average accuracy (absolute) by 36% when transferring between languages that use different scripts.

* To appear in AAAI 2019
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Neural models have shown several state-of-the-art performances on Semantic Role Labeling (SRL). However, the neural models require an immense amount of semantic-role corpora and are thus not well suited for low-resource languages or domains. The paper proposes a semi-supervised semantic role labeling method that outperforms the state-of-the-art in limited SRL training corpora. The method is based on explicitly enforcing syntactic constraints by augmenting the training objective with a syntactic-inconsistency loss component and uses SRL-unlabeled instances to train a joint-objective LSTM. On CoNLL-2012 English section, the proposed semi-supervised training with 1%, 10% SRL-labeled data and varying amounts of SRL-unlabeled data achieves +1.58, +0.78 F1, respectively, over the pre-trained models that were trained on SOTA architecture with ELMo on the same SRL-labeled data. Additionally, by using the syntactic-inconsistency loss on inference time, the proposed model achieves +3.67, +2.1 F1 over pre-trained model on 1%, 10% SRL-labeled data, respectively.

* EMNLP 2018
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For languages with no annotated resources, unsupervised transfer of natural language processing models such as named-entity recognition (NER) from resource-rich languages would be an appealing capability. However, differences in words and word order across languages make it a challenging problem. To improve mapping of lexical items across languages, we propose a method that finds translations based on bilingual word embeddings. To improve robustness to word order differences, we propose to use self-attention, which allows for a degree of flexibility with respect to word order. We demonstrate that these methods achieve state-of-the-art or competitive NER performance on commonly tested languages under a cross-lingual setting, with much lower resource requirements than past approaches. We also evaluate the challenges of applying these methods to Uyghur, a low-resource language.

* EMNLP 2018 long paper
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In this paper, we propose a generic and simple strategy for utilizing stochastic gradient information in optimization. The technique essentially contains two consecutive steps in each iteration: 1) computing and normalizing each block (layer) of the mini-batch stochastic gradient; 2) selecting appropriate step size to update the decision variable (parameter) towards the negative of the block-normalized gradient. We conduct extensive empirical studies on various non-convex neural network optimization problems, including multi-layer perceptron, convolution neural networks and recurrent neural networks. The results indicate the block-normalized gradient can help accelerate the training of neural networks. In particular, we observe that the normalized gradient methods having constant step size with occasionally decay, such as SGD with momentum, have better performance in the deep convolution neural networks, while those with adaptive step sizes, such as Adam, perform better in recurrent neural networks. Besides, we also observe this line of methods can lead to solutions with better generalization properties, which is confirmed by the performance improvement over strong baselines.

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Fast and effective automated indexing is critical for search and personalized services. Key phrases that consist of one or more words and represent the main concepts of the document are often used for the purpose of indexing. In this paper, we investigate the use of additional semantic features and pre-processing steps to improve automatic key phrase extraction. These features include the use of signal words and freebase categories. Some of these features lead to significant improvements in the accuracy of the results. We also experimented with 2 forms of document pre-processing that we call light filtering and co-reference normalization. Light filtering removes sentences from the document, which are judged peripheral to its main content. Co-reference normalization unifies several written forms of the same named entity into a unique form. We also needed a "Gold Standard" - a set of labeled documents for training and evaluation. While the subjective nature of key phrase selection precludes a true "Gold Standard", we used Amazon's Mechanical Turk service to obtain a useful approximation. Our data indicates that the biggest improvements in performance were due to shallow semantic features, news categories, and rhetorical signals (nDCG 78.47% vs. 68.93%). The inclusion of deeper semantic features such as Freebase sub-categories was not beneficial by itself, but in combination with pre-processing, did cause slight improvements in the nDCG scores.

* In 8th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2012)
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With the capability of modeling bidirectional contexts, denoising autoencoding based pretraining like BERT achieves better performance than pretraining approaches based on autoregressive language modeling. However, relying on corrupting the input with masks, BERT neglects dependency between the masked positions and suffers from a pretrain-finetune discrepancy. In light of these pros and cons, we propose XLNet, a generalized autoregressive pretraining method that (1) enables learning bidirectional contexts by maximizing the expected likelihood over all permutations of the factorization order and (2) overcomes the limitations of BERT thanks to its autoregressive formulation. Furthermore, XLNet integrates ideas from Transformer-XL, the state-of-the-art autoregressive model, into pretraining. Empirically, XLNet outperforms BERT on 20 tasks, often by a large margin, and achieves state-of-the-art results on 18 tasks including question answering, natural language inference, sentiment analysis, and document ranking.

* Pretrained models and code are available at https://github.com/zihangdai/xlnet
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Transformer networks have a potential of learning longer-term dependency, but are limited by a fixed-length context in the setting of language modeling. As a solution, we propose a novel neural architecture, Transformer-XL, that enables Transformer to learn dependency beyond a fixed length without disrupting temporal coherence. Concretely, it consists of a segment-level recurrence mechanism and a novel positional encoding scheme. Our method not only enables capturing longer-term dependency, but also resolves the problem of context fragmentation. As a result, Transformer-XL learns dependency that is about 80% longer than RNNs and 450% longer than vanilla Transformers, achieves better performance on both short and long sequences, and is up to 1,800+ times faster than vanilla Transformer during evaluation. Additionally, we improve the state-of-the-art (SoTA) results of bpc/perplexity from 1.06 to 0.99 on enwiki8, from 1.13 to 1.08 on text8, from 20.5 to 18.3 on WikiText-103, from 23.7 to 21.8 on One Billion Word, and from 55.3 to 54.5 on Penn Treebank (without finetuning). Our code, pretrained models, and hyperparameters are available in both Tensorflow and PyTorch.

* Code and pretrained models are available at https://github.com/kimiyoung/transformer-xl
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We study the problem of estimating high-dimensional regression models regularized by a structured sparsity-inducing penalty that encodes prior structural information on either the input or output variables. We consider two widely adopted types of penalties of this kind as motivating examples: (1) the general overlapping-group-lasso penalty, generalized from the group-lasso penalty; and (2) the graph-guided-fused-lasso penalty, generalized from the fused-lasso penalty. For both types of penalties, due to their nonseparability and nonsmoothness, developing an efficient optimization method remains a challenging problem. In this paper we propose a general optimization approach, the smoothing proximal gradient (SPG) method, which can solve structured sparse regression problems with any smooth convex loss under a wide spectrum of structured sparsity-inducing penalties. Our approach combines a smoothing technique with an effective proximal gradient method. It achieves a convergence rate significantly faster than the standard first-order methods, subgradient methods, and is much more scalable than the most widely used interior-point methods. The efficiency and scalability of our method are demonstrated on both simulation experiments and real genetic data sets.

* Annals of Applied Statistics 2012, Vol. 6, No. 2, 719-752
* Published in at http://dx.doi.org/10.1214/11-AOAS514 the Annals of Applied Statistics (http://www.imstat.org/aoas/) by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (http://www.imstat.org)
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