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Yoshua Bengio, Nikolay Malkin

The current state-of-the-art in artificial intelligence is impressive, especially in terms of mastery of language, but not so much in terms of mathematical reasoning. What could be missing? Can we learn something useful about that gap from how the brains of mathematicians go about their craft? This essay builds on the idea that current deep learning mostly succeeds at system 1 abilities -- which correspond to our intuition and habitual behaviors -- but still lacks something important regarding system 2 abilities -- which include reasoning and robust uncertainty estimation. It takes an information-theoretical posture to ask questions about what constitutes an interesting mathematical statement, which could guide future work in crafting an AI mathematician. The focus is not on proving a given theorem but on discovering new and interesting conjectures. The central hypothesis is that a desirable body of theorems better summarizes the set of all provable statements, for example by having a small description length while at the same time being close (in terms of number of derivation steps) to many provable statements.

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Tristan Deleu, Padideh Nouri, Nikolay Malkin, Doina Precup, Yoshua Bengio

We consider the problem of sampling from a discrete and structured distribution as a sequential decision problem, where the objective is to find a stochastic policy such that objects are sampled at the end of this sequential process proportionally to some predefined reward. While we could use maximum entropy Reinforcement Learning (MaxEnt RL) to solve this problem for some distributions, it has been shown that in general, the distribution over states induced by the optimal policy may be biased in cases where there are multiple ways to generate the same object. To address this issue, Generative Flow Networks (GFlowNets) learn a stochastic policy that samples objects proportionally to their reward by approximately enforcing a conservation of flows across the whole Markov Decision Process (MDP). In this paper, we extend recent methods correcting the reward in order to guarantee that the marginal distribution induced by the optimal MaxEnt RL policy is proportional to the original reward, regardless of the structure of the underlying MDP. We also prove that some flow-matching objectives found in the GFlowNet literature are in fact equivalent to well-established MaxEnt RL algorithms with a corrected reward. Finally, we study empirically the performance of multiple MaxEnt RL and GFlowNet algorithms on multiple problems involving sampling from discrete distributions.

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Marcin Sendera, Minsu Kim, Sarthak Mittal, Pablo Lemos, Luca Scimeca, Jarrid Rector-Brooks, Alexandre Adam, Yoshua Bengio, Nikolay Malkin

We study the problem of training diffusion models to sample from a distribution with a given unnormalized density or energy function. We benchmark several diffusion-structured inference methods, including simulation-based variational approaches and off-policy methods (continuous generative flow networks). Our results shed light on the relative advantages of existing algorithms while bringing into question some claims from past work. We also propose a novel exploration strategy for off-policy methods, based on local search in the target space with the use of a replay buffer, and show that it improves the quality of samples on a variety of target distributions. Our code for the sampling methods and benchmarks studied is made public at https://github.com/GFNOrg/gfn-diffusion as a base for future work on diffusion models for amortized inference.

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Arian Hosseini, Xingdi Yuan, Nikolay Malkin, Aaron Courville, Alessandro Sordoni, Rishabh Agarwal

Common self-improvement approaches for large language models (LLMs), such as STaR (Zelikman et al., 2022), iteratively fine-tune LLMs on self-generated solutions to improve their problem-solving ability. However, these approaches discard the large amounts of incorrect solutions generated during this process, potentially neglecting valuable information in such solutions. To address this shortcoming, we propose V-STaR that utilizes both the correct and incorrect solutions generated during the self-improvement process to train a verifier using DPO that judges correctness of model-generated solutions. This verifier is used at inference time to select one solution among many candidate solutions. Running V-STaR for multiple iterations results in progressively better reasoners and verifiers, delivering a 4% to 17% test accuracy improvement over existing self-improvement and verification approaches on common code generation and math reasoning benchmarks with LLaMA2 models.

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Tara Akhound-Sadegh, Jarrid Rector-Brooks, Avishek Joey Bose, Sarthak Mittal, Pablo Lemos, Cheng-Hao Liu, Marcin Sendera, Siamak Ravanbakhsh, Gauthier Gidel, Yoshua Bengio, Nikolay Malkin, Alexander Tong

Efficiently generating statistically independent samples from an unnormalized probability distribution, such as equilibrium samples of many-body systems, is a foundational problem in science. In this paper, we propose Iterated Denoising Energy Matching (iDEM), an iterative algorithm that uses a novel stochastic score matching objective leveraging solely the energy function and its gradient -- and no data samples -- to train a diffusion-based sampler. Specifically, iDEM alternates between (I) sampling regions of high model density from a diffusion-based sampler and (II) using these samples in our stochastic matching objective to further improve the sampler. iDEM is scalable to high dimensions as the inner matching objective, is simulation-free, and requires no MCMC samples. Moreover, by leveraging the fast mode mixing behavior of diffusion, iDEM smooths out the energy landscape enabling efficient exploration and learning of an amortized sampler. We evaluate iDEM on a suite of tasks ranging from standard synthetic energy functions to invariant $n$-body particle systems. We show that the proposed approach achieves state-of-the-art performance on all metrics and trains $2-5\times$ faster, which allows it to be the first method to train using energy on the challenging $55$-particle Lennard-Jones system.

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Pablo Lemos, Sammy Sharief, Nikolay Malkin, Laurence Perreault-Levasseur, Yashar Hezaveh

We propose a comprehensive sample-based method for assessing the quality of generative models. The proposed approach enables the estimation of the probability that two sets of samples are drawn from the same distribution, providing a statistically rigorous method for assessing the performance of a single generative model or the comparison of multiple competing models trained on the same dataset. This comparison can be conducted by dividing the space into non-overlapping regions and comparing the number of data samples in each region. The method only requires samples from the generative model and the test data. It is capable of functioning directly on high-dimensional data, obviating the need for dimensionality reduction. Significantly, the proposed method does not depend on assumptions regarding the density of the true distribution, and it does not rely on training or fitting any auxiliary models. Instead, it focuses on approximating the integral of the density (probability mass) across various sub-regions within the data space.

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Pablo Lemos, Nikolay Malkin, Will Handley, Yoshua Bengio, Yashar Hezaveh, Laurence Perreault-Levasseur

We present a performant, general-purpose gradient-guided nested sampling algorithm, ${\tt GGNS}$, combining the state of the art in differentiable programming, Hamiltonian slice sampling, clustering, mode separation, dynamic nested sampling, and parallelization. This unique combination allows ${\tt GGNS}$ to scale well with dimensionality and perform competitively on a variety of synthetic and real-world problems. We also show the potential of combining nested sampling with generative flow networks to obtain large amounts of high-quality samples from the posterior distribution. This combination leads to faster mode discovery and more accurate estimates of the partition function.

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Mingyang Zhou, Zichao Yan, Elliot Layne, Nikolay Malkin, Dinghuai Zhang, Moksh Jain, Mathieu Blanchette, Yoshua Bengio

Phylogenetics is a branch of computational biology that studies the evolutionary relationships among biological entities. Its long history and numerous applications notwithstanding, inference of phylogenetic trees from sequence data remains challenging: the high complexity of tree space poses a significant obstacle for the current combinatorial and probabilistic techniques. In this paper, we adopt the framework of generative flow networks (GFlowNets) to tackle two core problems in phylogenetics: parsimony-based and Bayesian phylogenetic inference. Because GFlowNets are well-suited for sampling complex combinatorial structures, they are a natural choice for exploring and sampling from the multimodal posterior distribution over tree topologies and evolutionary distances. We demonstrate that our amortized posterior sampler, PhyloGFN, produces diverse and high-quality evolutionary hypotheses on real benchmark datasets. PhyloGFN is competitive with prior works in marginal likelihood estimation and achieves a closer fit to the target distribution than state-of-the-art variational inference methods.

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Edward J. Hu, Moksh Jain, Eric Elmoznino, Younesse Kaddar, Guillaume Lajoie, Yoshua Bengio, Nikolay Malkin

Autoregressive large language models (LLMs) compress knowledge from their training data through next-token conditional distributions. This limits tractable querying of this knowledge to start-to-end autoregressive sampling. However, many tasks of interest -- including sequence continuation, infilling, and other forms of constrained generation -- involve sampling from intractable posterior distributions. We address this limitation by using amortized Bayesian inference to sample from these intractable posteriors. Such amortization is algorithmically achieved by fine-tuning LLMs via diversity-seeking reinforcement learning algorithms: generative flow networks (GFlowNets). We empirically demonstrate that this distribution-matching paradigm of LLM fine-tuning can serve as an effective alternative to maximum-likelihood training and reward-maximizing policy optimization. As an important application, we interpret chain-of-thought reasoning as a latent variable modeling problem and demonstrate that our approach enables data-efficient adaptation of LLMs to tasks that require multi-step rationalization and tool use.

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Marco Jiralerspong, Bilun Sun, Danilo Vucetic, Tianyu Zhang, Yoshua Bengio, Gauthier Gidel, Nikolay Malkin

Generative flow networks (GFlowNets) are sequential sampling models trained to match a given distribution. GFlowNets have been successfully applied to various structured object generation tasks, sampling a diverse set of high-reward objects quickly. We propose expected flow networks (EFlowNets), which extend GFlowNets to stochastic environments. We show that EFlowNets outperform other GFlowNet formulations in stochastic tasks such as protein design. We then extend the concept of EFlowNets to adversarial environments, proposing adversarial flow networks (AFlowNets) for two-player zero-sum games. We show that AFlowNets learn to find above 80% of optimal moves in Connect-4 via self-play and outperform AlphaZero in tournaments.

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