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Abstract:Existing differentially private (DP) synthetic data generation mechanisms typically assume a single-source table. In practice, data is often distributed across multiple tables with relationships across tables. In this paper, we introduce the first-of-its-kind algorithm that can be combined with any existing DP mechanisms to generate synthetic relational databases. Our algorithm iteratively refines the relationship between individual synthetic tables to minimize their approximation errors in terms of low-order marginal distributions while maintaining referential integrity. Finally, we provide both DP and theoretical utility guarantees for our algorithm.

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Abstract:When machine learning models are trained on synthetic data and then deployed on real data, there is often a performance drop due to the distribution shift between synthetic and real data. In this paper, we introduce a new ensemble strategy for training downstream models, with the goal of enhancing their performance when used on real data. We generate multiple synthetic datasets by applying a differential privacy (DP) mechanism several times in parallel and then ensemble the downstream models trained on these datasets. While each synthetic dataset might deviate more from the real data distribution, they collectively increase sample diversity. This may enhance the robustness of downstream models against distribution shifts. Our extensive experiments reveal that while ensembling does not enhance downstream performance (compared with training a single model) for models trained on synthetic data generated by marginal-based or workload-based DP mechanisms, our proposed ensemble strategy does improve the performance for models trained using GAN-based DP mechanisms in terms of both accuracy and calibration of downstream models.

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Abstract:Inspired by the remarkable success of deep neural networks, there has been significant interest in understanding the generalization performance of overparameterized models. Substantial efforts have been invested in characterizing how optimization algorithms impact generalization through their "preferred" solutions, a phenomenon commonly referred to as implicit regularization. In particular, it has been argued that gradient descent (GD) induces an implicit $\ell_2$-norm regularization in regression and classification problems. However, the implicit regularization of different algorithms are confined to either a specific geometry or a particular class of learning problems, indicating a gap in a general approach for controlling the implicit regularization. To address this, we present a unified approach using mirror descent (MD), a notable generalization of GD, to control implicit regularization in both regression and classification settings. More specifically, we show that MD with the general class of homogeneous potential functions converges in direction to a generalized maximum-margin solution for linear classification problems, thereby answering a long-standing question in the classification setting. Further, we show that MD can be implemented efficiently and under suitable conditions, enjoys fast convergence. Through comprehensive experiments, we demonstrate that MD is a versatile method to produce learned models with different regularizers, which in turn have different generalization performances.

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Abstract:Self-supervised pre-trained models extract general-purpose representations from data, and quantifying how reliable they are is crucial because many downstream models use these representations as input for their own tasks. To this end, we first introduce a formal definition of representation reliability: the representation for a given test input is considered to be reliable if the downstream models built on top of that representation can consistently generate accurate predictions for that test point. It is desired to estimate the representation reliability without knowing the downstream tasks a priori. We provide a negative result showing that existing frameworks for uncertainty quantification in supervised learning are not suitable for this purpose. As an alternative, we propose an ensemble-based method for quantifying representation reliability, based on the concept of neighborhood consistency in the representation spaces across various pre-trained models. More specifically, the key insight is to use shared neighboring points as anchors to align different representation spaces. We demonstrate through comprehensive numerical experiments that our method is capable of predicting representation reliability with high accuracy.

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Abstract:When machine learning models are trained continually on a sequence of tasks, they are liable to forget what they learned on previous tasks -- a phenomenon known as catastrophic forgetting. Proposed solutions to catastrophic forgetting tend to involve storing information about past tasks, meaning that memory usage is a chief consideration in determining their practicality. This paper proposes a memory-efficient solution to catastrophic forgetting, improving upon an established algorithm known as orthogonal gradient descent (OGD). OGD utilizes prior model gradients to find weight updates that preserve performance on prior datapoints. However, since the memory cost of storing prior model gradients grows with the runtime of the algorithm, OGD is ill-suited to continual learning over arbitrarily long time horizons. To address this problem, this paper proposes SketchOGD. SketchOGD employs an online sketching algorithm to compress model gradients as they are encountered into a matrix of a fixed, user-determined size. In contrast to existing memory-efficient variants of OGD, SketchOGD runs online without the need for advance knowledge of the total number of tasks, is simple to implement, and is more amenable to analysis. We provide theoretical guarantees on the approximation error of the relevant sketches under a novel metric suited to the downstream task of OGD. Experimentally, we find that SketchOGD tends to outperform current state-of-the-art variants of OGD given a fixed memory budget.

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Abstract:We consider the fundamental problem of solving a large-scale system of linear equations. In particular, we consider the setting where a taskmaster intends to solve the system in a distributed/federated fashion with the help of a set of machines, who each have a subset of the equations. Although there exist several approaches for solving this problem, missing is a rigorous comparison between the convergence rates of the projection-based methods and those of the optimization-based ones. In this paper, we analyze and compare these two classes of algorithms with a particular focus on the most efficient method from each class, namely, the recently proposed Accelerated Projection-Based Consensus (APC) and the Distributed Heavy-Ball Method (D-HBM). To this end, we first propose a geometric notion of data heterogeneity called angular heterogeneity and discuss its generality. Using this notion, we bound and compare the convergence rates of the studied algorithms and capture the effects of both cross-machine and local data heterogeneity on these quantities. Our analysis results in a number of novel insights besides showing that APC is the most efficient method in realistic scenarios where there is a large data heterogeneity. Our numerical analyses validate our theoretical results.

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Abstract:The architecture of a deep neural network is defined explicitly in terms of the number of layers, the width of each layer and the general network topology. Existing optimisation frameworks neglect this information in favour of implicit architectural information (e.g. second-order methods) or architecture-agnostic distance functions (e.g. mirror descent). Meanwhile, the most popular optimiser in practice, Adam, is based on heuristics. This paper builds a new framework for deriving optimisation algorithms that explicitly leverage neural architecture. The theory extends mirror descent to non-convex composite objective functions: the idea is to transform a Bregman divergence to account for the non-linear structure of neural architecture. Working through the details for deep fully-connected networks yields automatic gradient descent: a first-order optimiser without any hyperparameters. Automatic gradient descent trains both fully-connected and convolutional networks out-of-the-box and at ImageNet scale. A PyTorch implementation is available at https://github.com/jxbz/agd and also in Appendix B. Overall, the paper supplies a rigorous theoretical foundation for a next-generation of architecture-dependent optimisers that work automatically and without hyperparameters.

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Abstract:The study of market equilibria is central to economic theory, particularly in efficiently allocating scarce resources. However, the computation of equilibrium prices at which the supply of goods matches their demand typically relies on having access to complete information on private attributes of agents, e.g., suppliers' cost functions, which are often unavailable in practice. Motivated by this practical consideration, we consider the problem of setting equilibrium prices in the incomplete information setting wherein a market operator seeks to satisfy the customer demand for a commodity by purchasing the required amount from competing suppliers with privately known cost functions unknown to the market operator. In this incomplete information setting, we consider the online learning problem of learning equilibrium prices over time while jointly optimizing three performance metrics -- unmet demand, cost regret, and payment regret -- pertinent in the context of equilibrium pricing over a horizon of $T$ periods. We first consider the setting when suppliers' cost functions are fixed and develop algorithms that achieve a regret of $O(\log \log T)$ when the customer demand is constant over time, or $O(\sqrt{T} \log \log T)$ when the demand is variable over time. Next, we consider the setting when the suppliers' cost functions can vary over time and illustrate that no online algorithm can achieve sublinear regret on all three metrics when the market operator has no information about how the cost functions change over time. Thus, we consider an augmented setting wherein the operator has access to hints/contexts that, without revealing the complete specification of the cost functions, reflect the variation in the cost functions over time and propose an algorithm with sublinear regret in this augmented setting.

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Abstract:Recent advances in learning-based control leverage deep function approximators, such as neural networks, to model the evolution of controlled dynamical systems over time. However, the problem of learning a dynamics model and a stabilizing controller persists, since the synthesis of a stabilizing feedback law for known nonlinear systems is a difficult task, let alone for complex parametric representations that must be fit to data. To this end, we propose a method for jointly learning parametric representations of a nonlinear dynamics model and a stabilizing controller from data. To do this, our approach simultaneously learns a parametric Lyapunov function which intrinsically constrains the dynamics model to be stabilizable by the learned controller. In addition to the stabilizability of the learned dynamics guaranteed by our novel construction, we show that the learned controller stabilizes the true dynamics under certain assumptions on the fidelity of the learned dynamics. Finally, we demonstrate the efficacy of our method on a variety of simulated nonlinear dynamical systems.

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Abstract:Even for known nonlinear dynamical systems, feedback controller synthesis is a difficult problem that often requires leveraging the particular structure of the dynamics to induce a stable closed-loop system. For general nonlinear models, including those fit to data, there may not be enough known structure to reliably synthesize a stabilizing feedback controller. In this paper, we propose a novel nonlinear tracking controller formulation based on a state-dependent Riccati equation for general nonlinear control-affine systems. Our formulation depends on a nonlinear factorization of the system of vector fields defining the control-affine dynamics, which we show always exists under mild smoothness assumptions. We discuss how this factorization can be learned from a finite set of data. On a variety of simulated nonlinear dynamical systems, we demonstrate the efficacy of learned versions of our controller in stable trajectory tracking. Alongside our method, we evaluate recent ideas in jointly learning a controller and stabilizability certificate for known dynamical systems; we show empirically that such methods can be data-inefficient in comparison.

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