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Abstract:The proliferation of large language models has revolutionized natural language processing tasks, yet it raises profound concerns regarding data privacy and security. Language models are trained on extensive corpora including potentially sensitive or proprietary information, and the risk of data leakage -- where the model response reveals pieces of such information -- remains inadequately understood. This study examines susceptibility to data leakage by quantifying the phenomenon of memorization in machine learning models, focusing on the evolution of memorization patterns over training. We investigate how the statistical characteristics of training data influence the memories encoded within the model by evaluating how repetition influences memorization. We reproduce findings that the probability of memorizing a sequence scales logarithmically with the number of times it is present in the data. Furthermore, we find that sequences which are not apparently memorized after the first encounter can be uncovered throughout the course of training even without subsequent encounters. The presence of these latent memorized sequences presents a challenge for data privacy since they may be hidden at the final checkpoint of the model. To this end, we develop a diagnostic test for uncovering these latent memorized sequences by considering their cross entropy loss.

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Abstract:In-context learning is a powerful capability of certain machine learning models that arguably underpins the success of today's frontier AI models. However, in-context learning is critically limited to settings where the in-context distribution of interest $p_{\theta}^{ICL}( x|\mathcal{D})$ can be straightforwardly expressed and/or parameterized by the model; for instance, language modeling relies on expressing the next-token distribution as a categorical distribution parameterized by the network's output logits. In this work, we present a more general form of in-context learning without such a limitation that we call \textit{in-context learning of energy functions}. The idea is to instead learn the unconstrained and arbitrary in-context energy function $E_{\theta}^{ICL}(x|\mathcal{D})$ corresponding to the in-context distribution $p_{\theta}^{ICL}(x|\mathcal{D})$. To do this, we use classic ideas from energy-based modeling. We provide preliminary evidence that our method empirically works on synthetic data. Interestingly, our work contributes (to the best of our knowledge) the first example of in-context learning where the input space and output space differ from one another, suggesting that in-context learning is a more-general capability than previously realized.

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Authors:Rylan Schaeffer, Victor Lecomte, Dhruv Bhandarkar Pai, Andres Carranza, Berivan Isik, Alyssa Unell, Mikail Khona, Thomas Yerxa, Yann LeCun, SueYeon Chung(+3 more)

Abstract:Maximum Manifold Capacity Representations (MMCR) is a recent multi-view self-supervised learning (MVSSL) method that matches or surpasses other leading MVSSL methods. MMCR is intriguing because it does not fit neatly into any of the commonplace MVSSL lineages, instead originating from a statistical mechanical perspective on the linear separability of data manifolds. In this paper, we seek to improve our understanding and our utilization of MMCR. To better understand MMCR, we leverage tools from high dimensional probability to demonstrate that MMCR incentivizes alignment and uniformity of learned embeddings. We then leverage tools from information theory to show that such embeddings maximize a well-known lower bound on mutual information between views, thereby connecting the geometric perspective of MMCR to the information-theoretic perspective commonly discussed in MVSSL. To better utilize MMCR, we mathematically predict and experimentally confirm non-monotonic changes in the pretraining loss akin to double descent but with respect to atypical hyperparameters. We also discover compute scaling laws that enable predicting the pretraining loss as a function of gradients steps, batch size, embedding dimension and number of views. We then show that MMCR, originally applied to image data, is performant on multimodal image-text data. By more deeply understanding the theoretical and empirical behavior of MMCR, our work reveals insights on improving MVSSL methods.

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Authors:Xiaoliang Luo, Akilles Rechardt, Guangzhi Sun, Kevin K. Nejad, Felipe Yáñez, Bati Yilmaz, Kangjoo Lee, Alexandra O. Cohen, Valentina Borghesani, Anton Pashkov(+29 more)

Abstract:Scientific discoveries often hinge on synthesizing decades of research, a task that potentially outstrips human information processing capacities. Large language models (LLMs) offer a solution. LLMs trained on the vast scientific literature could potentially integrate noisy yet interrelated findings to forecast novel results better than human experts. To evaluate this possibility, we created BrainBench, a forward-looking benchmark for predicting neuroscience results. We find that LLMs surpass experts in predicting experimental outcomes. BrainGPT, an LLM we tuned on the neuroscience literature, performed better yet. Like human experts, when LLMs were confident in their predictions, they were more likely to be correct, which presages a future where humans and LLMs team together to make discoveries. Our approach is not neuroscience-specific and is transferable to other knowledge-intensive endeavors.

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Authors:Rylan Schaeffer, Nika Zahedi, Mikail Khona, Dhruv Pai, Sang Truong, Yilun Du, Mitchell Ostrow, Sarthak Chandra, Andres Carranza, Ila Rani Fiete(+2 more)

Abstract:Associative memory and probabilistic modeling are two fundamental topics in artificial intelligence. The first studies recurrent neural networks designed to denoise, complete and retrieve data, whereas the second studies learning and sampling from probability distributions. Based on the observation that associative memory's energy functions can be seen as probabilistic modeling's negative log likelihoods, we build a bridge between the two that enables useful flow of ideas in both directions. We showcase four examples: First, we propose new energy-based models that flexibly adapt their energy functions to new in-context datasets, an approach we term \textit{in-context learning of energy functions}. Second, we propose two new associative memory models: one that dynamically creates new memories as necessitated by the training data using Bayesian nonparametrics, and another that explicitly computes proportional memory assignments using the evidence lower bound. Third, using tools from associative memory, we analytically and numerically characterize the memory capacity of Gaussian kernel density estimators, a widespread tool in probababilistic modeling. Fourth, we study a widespread implementation choice in transformers -- normalization followed by self attention -- to show it performs clustering on the hypersphere. Altogether, this work urges further exchange of useful ideas between these two continents of artificial intelligence.

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Authors:Mikail Khona, Maya Okawa, Jan Hula, Rahul Ramesh, Kento Nishi, Robert Dick, Ekdeep Singh Lubana, Hidenori Tanaka

Abstract:Stepwise inference protocols, such as scratchpads and chain-of-thought, help language models solve complex problems by decomposing them into a sequence of simpler subproblems. Despite the significant gain in performance achieved via these protocols, the underlying mechanisms of stepwise inference have remained elusive. To address this, we propose to study autoregressive Transformer models on a synthetic task that embodies the multi-step nature of problems where stepwise inference is generally most useful. Specifically, we define a graph navigation problem wherein a model is tasked with traversing a path from a start to a goal node on the graph. Despite is simplicity, we find we can empirically reproduce and analyze several phenomena observed at scale: (i) the stepwise inference reasoning gap, the cause of which we find in the structure of the training data; (ii) a diversity-accuracy tradeoff in model generations as sampling temperature varies; (iii) a simplicity bias in the model's output; and (iv) compositional generalization and a primacy bias with in-context exemplars. Overall, our work introduces a grounded, synthetic framework for studying stepwise inference and offers mechanistic hypotheses that can lay the foundation for a deeper understanding of this phenomenon.

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Abstract:Transformers trained on huge text corpora exhibit a remarkable set of capabilities, e.g., performing simple logical operations. Given the inherent compositional nature of language, one can expect the model to learn to compose these capabilities, potentially yielding a combinatorial explosion of what operations it can perform on an input. Motivated by the above, we aim to assess in this paper "how capable can a transformer become?". Specifically, we train autoregressive Transformer models on a data-generating process that involves compositions of a set of well-defined monolithic capabilities. Through a series of extensive and systematic experiments on this data-generating process, we show that: (1) autoregressive Transformers can learn compositional structures from the training data and generalize to exponentially or even combinatorially many functions; (2) composing functions by generating intermediate outputs is more effective at generalizing to unseen compositions, compared to generating no intermediate outputs; (3) the training data has a significant impact on the model's ability to compose unseen combinations of functions; and (4) the attention layers in the latter half of the model are critical to compositionality.

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Authors:Rylan Schaeffer, Mikail Khona, Tzuhsuan Ma, Cristóbal Eyzaguirre, Sanmi Koyejo, Ila Rani Fiete

Abstract:To solve the spatial problems of mapping, localization and navigation, the mammalian lineage has developed striking spatial representations. One important spatial representation is the Nobel-prize winning grid cells: neurons that represent self-location, a local and aperiodic quantity, with seemingly bizarre non-local and spatially periodic activity patterns of a few discrete periods. Why has the mammalian lineage learnt this peculiar grid representation? Mathematical analysis suggests that this multi-periodic representation has excellent properties as an algebraic code with high capacity and intrinsic error-correction, but to date, there is no satisfactory synthesis of core principles that lead to multi-modular grid cells in deep recurrent neural networks. In this work, we begin by identifying key insights from four families of approaches to answering the grid cell question: coding theory, dynamical systems, function optimization and supervised deep learning. We then leverage our insights to propose a new approach that combines the strengths of all four approaches. Our approach is a self-supervised learning (SSL) framework - including data, data augmentations, loss functions and a network architecture - motivated from a normative perspective, without access to supervised position information or engineering of particular readout representations as needed in previous approaches. We show that multiple grid cell modules can emerge in networks trained on our SSL framework and that the networks and emergent representations generalize well outside their training distribution. This work contains insights for neuroscientists interested in the origins of grid cells as well as machine learning researchers interested in novel SSL frameworks.

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Abstract:Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) trained on compositional tasks can exhibit functional modularity, in which neurons can be clustered by activity similarity and participation in shared computational subtasks. Unlike brains, these RNNs do not exhibit anatomical modularity, in which functional clustering is correlated with strong recurrent coupling and spatial localization of functional clusters. Contrasting with functional modularity, which can be ephemerally dependent on the input, anatomically modular networks form a robust substrate for solving the same subtasks in the future. To examine whether it is possible to grow brain-like anatomical modularity, we apply a recent machine learning method, brain-inspired modular training (BIMT), to a network being trained to solve a set of compositional cognitive tasks. We find that functional and anatomical clustering emerge together, such that functionally similar neurons also become spatially localized and interconnected. Moreover, compared to standard $L_1$ or no regularization settings, the model exhibits superior performance by optimally balancing task performance and network sparsity. In addition to achieving brain-like organization in RNNs, our findings also suggest that BIMT holds promise for applications in neuromorphic computing and enhancing the interpretability of neural network architectures.

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Authors:Rylan Schaeffer, Mikail Khona, Zachary Robertson, Akhilan Boopathy, Kateryna Pistunova, Jason W. Rocks, Ila Rani Fiete, Oluwasanmi Koyejo

Abstract:Double descent is a surprising phenomenon in machine learning, in which as the number of model parameters grows relative to the number of data, test error drops as models grow ever larger into the highly overparameterized (data undersampled) regime. This drop in test error flies against classical learning theory on overfitting and has arguably underpinned the success of large models in machine learning. This non-monotonic behavior of test loss depends on the number of data, the dimensionality of the data and the number of model parameters. Here, we briefly describe double descent, then provide an explanation of why double descent occurs in an informal and approachable manner, requiring only familiarity with linear algebra and introductory probability. We provide visual intuition using polynomial regression, then mathematically analyze double descent with ordinary linear regression and identify three interpretable factors that, when simultaneously all present, together create double descent. We demonstrate that double descent occurs on real data when using ordinary linear regression, then demonstrate that double descent does not occur when any of the three factors are ablated. We use this understanding to shed light on recent observations in nonlinear models concerning superposition and double descent. Code is publicly available.

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