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Abstract:Causal language modeling using the Transformer architecture has yielded remarkable capabilities in Large Language Models (LLMs) over the last few years. However, the extent to which fundamental search and reasoning capabilities emerged within LLMs remains a topic of ongoing debate. In this work, we study if causal language modeling can learn a complex task such as solving Sudoku puzzles. To solve a Sudoku, the model is first required to search over all empty cells of the puzzle to decide on a cell to fill and then apply an appropriate strategy to fill the decided cell. Sometimes, the application of a strategy only results in thinning down the possible values in a cell rather than concluding the exact value of the cell. In such cases, multiple strategies are applied one after the other to fill a single cell. We observe that Transformer models trained on this synthetic task can indeed learn to solve Sudokus (our model solves $94.21\%$ of the puzzles fully correctly) when trained on a logical sequence of steps taken by a solver. We find that training Transformers with the logical sequence of steps is necessary and without such training, they fail to learn Sudoku. We also extend our analysis to Zebra puzzles (known as Einstein puzzles) and show that the model solves $92.04 \%$ of the puzzles fully correctly. In addition, we study the internal representations of the trained Transformer and find that through linear probing, we can decode information about the set of possible values in any given cell from them, pointing to the presence of a strong reasoning engine implicit in the Transformer weights.

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Abstract:A core component present in many successful neural network architectures, is an MLP block of two fully connected layers with a non-linear activation in between. An intriguing phenomenon observed empirically, including in transformer architectures, is that, after training, the activations in the hidden layer of this MLP block tend to be extremely sparse on any given input. Unlike traditional forms of sparsity, where there are neurons/weights which can be deleted from the network, this form of {\em dynamic} activation sparsity appears to be harder to exploit to get more efficient networks. Motivated by this we initiate a formal study of PAC learnability of MLP layers that exhibit activation sparsity. We present a variety of results showing that such classes of functions do lead to provable computational and statistical advantages over their non-sparse counterparts. Our hope is that a better theoretical understanding of {\em sparsely activated} networks would lead to methods that can exploit activation sparsity in practice.

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Authors:Mehran Kazemi, Nishanth Dikkala, Ankit Anand, Petar Devic, Ishita Dasgupta, Fangyu Liu, Bahare Fatemi, Pranjal Awasthi, Dee Guo, Sreenivas Gollapudi(+1 more)

Abstract:With the continuous advancement of large language models (LLMs), it is essential to create new benchmarks to effectively evaluate their expanding capabilities and identify areas for improvement. This work focuses on multi-image reasoning, an emerging capability in state-of-the-art LLMs. We introduce ReMI, a dataset designed to assess LLMs' ability to Reason with Multiple Images. This dataset encompasses a diverse range of tasks, spanning various reasoning domains such as math, physics, logic, code, table/chart understanding, and spatial and temporal reasoning. It also covers a broad spectrum of characteristics found in multi-image reasoning scenarios. We have benchmarked several cutting-edge LLMs using ReMI and found a substantial gap between their performance and human-level proficiency. This highlights the challenges in multi-image reasoning and the need for further research. Our analysis also reveals the strengths and weaknesses of different models, shedding light on the types of reasoning that are currently attainable and areas where future models require improvement. To foster further research in this area, we are releasing ReMI publicly: https://huggingface.co/datasets/mehrankazemi/ReMI.

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Abstract:One way of introducing sparsity into deep networks is by attaching an external table of parameters that is sparsely looked up at different layers of the network. By storing the bulk of the parameters in the external table, one can increase the capacity of the model without necessarily increasing the inference time. Two crucial questions in this setting are then: what is the lookup function for accessing the table and how are the contents of the table consumed? Prominent methods for accessing the table include 1) using words/wordpieces token-ids as table indices, 2) LSH hashing the token vector in each layer into a table of buckets, and 3) learnable softmax style routing to a table entry. The ways to consume the contents include adding/concatenating to input representation, and using the contents as expert networks that specialize to different inputs. In this work, we conduct rigorous experimental evaluations of existing ideas and their combinations. We also introduce a new method, alternating updates, that enables access to an increased token dimension without increasing the computation time, and demonstrate its effectiveness in language modeling.

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Abstract:It is well established that increasing scale in deep transformer networks leads to improved quality and performance. This increase in scale often comes with an increase in compute cost and inference latency. Consequently, research into methods which help realize the benefits of increased scale without leading to an increase in the compute cost becomes important. We introduce Alternating Updates (AltUp), a simple-to-implement method to increase a model's capacity without the computational burden. AltUp enables the widening of the learned representation without increasing the computation time by working on a subblock of the representation at each layer. Our experiments on various transformer models and language tasks demonstrate the consistent effectiveness of alternating updates on a diverse set of benchmarks. Finally, we present extensions of AltUp to the sequence dimension, and demonstrate how AltUp can be synergistically combined with existing approaches, such as Sparse Mixture-of-Experts models, to obtain efficient models with even higher capacity.

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Abstract:Deep and wide neural networks successfully fit very complex functions today, but dense models are starting to be prohibitively expensive for inference. To mitigate this, one promising direction is networks that activate a sparse subgraph of the network. The subgraph is chosen by a data-dependent routing function, enforcing a fixed mapping of inputs to subnetworks (e.g., the Mixture of Experts (MoE) paradigm in Switch Transformers). However, prior work is largely empirical, and while existing routing functions work well in practice, they do not lead to theoretical guarantees on approximation ability. We aim to provide a theoretical explanation for the power of sparse networks. As our first contribution, we present a formal model of data-dependent sparse networks that captures salient aspects of popular architectures. We then introduce a routing function based on locality sensitive hashing (LSH) that enables us to reason about how well sparse networks approximate target functions. After representing LSH-based sparse networks with our model, we prove that sparse networks can match the approximation power of dense networks on Lipschitz functions. Applying LSH on the input vectors means that the experts interpolate the target function in different subregions of the input space. To support our theory, we define various datasets based on Lipschitz target functions, and we show that sparse networks give a favorable trade-off between number of active units and approximation quality.

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Abstract:Recent investigations in noise contrastive estimation suggest, both empirically as well as theoretically, that while having more "negative samples" in the contrastive loss improves downstream classification performance initially, beyond a threshold, it hurts downstream performance due to a "collision-coverage" trade-off. But is such a phenomenon inherent in contrastive learning? We show in a simple theoretical setting, where positive pairs are generated by sampling from the underlying latent class (introduced by Saunshi et al. (ICML 2019)), that the downstream performance of the representation optimizing the (population) contrastive loss in fact does not degrade with the number of negative samples. Along the way, we give a structural characterization of the optimal representation in our framework, for noise contrastive estimation. We also provide empirical support for our theoretical results on CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100 datasets.

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Authors:Yuval Dagan, Constantinos Daskalakis, Nishanth Dikkala, Surbhi Goel, Anthimos Vardis Kandiros

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Abstract:We consider a general statistical estimation problem wherein binary labels across different observations are not independent conditioned on their feature vectors, but dependent, capturing settings where e.g. these observations are collected on a spatial domain, a temporal domain, or a social network, which induce dependencies. We model these dependencies in the language of Markov Random Fields and, importantly, allow these dependencies to be substantial, i.e do not assume that the Markov Random Field capturing these dependencies is in high temperature. As our main contribution we provide algorithms and statistically efficient estimation rates for this model, giving several instantiations of our bounds in logistic regression, sparse logistic regression, and neural network settings with dependent data. Our estimation guarantees follow from novel results for estimating the parameters (i.e. external fields and interaction strengths) of Ising models from a {\em single} sample. {We evaluate our estimation approach on real networked data, showing that it outperforms standard regression approaches that ignore dependencies, across three text classification datasets: Cora, Citeseer and Pubmed.}

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Abstract:It is well established that training deep neural networks gives useful representations that capture essential features of the inputs. However, these representations are poorly understood in theory and practice. In the context of supervised learning an important question is whether these representations capture features informative for classification, while filtering out non-informative noisy ones. We explore a formalization of this question by considering a generative process where each class is associated with a high-dimensional manifold and different classes define different manifolds. Under this model, each input is produced using two latent vectors: (i) a "manifold identifier" $\gamma$ and; (ii)~a "transformation parameter" $\theta$ that shifts examples along the surface of a manifold. E.g., $\gamma$ might represent a canonical image of a dog, and $\theta$ might stand for variations in pose, background or lighting. We provide theoretical and empirical evidence that neural representations can be viewed as LSH-like functions that map each input to an embedding that is a function of solely the informative $\gamma$ and invariant to $\theta$, effectively recovering the manifold identifier $\gamma$. An important consequence of this behavior is one-shot learning to unseen classes.

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Abstract:We develop an approach for estimating models described via conditional moment restrictions, with a prototypical application being non-parametric instrumental variable regression. We introduce a min-max criterion function, under which the estimation problem can be thought of as solving a zero-sum game between a modeler who is optimizing over the hypothesis space of the target model and an adversary who identifies violating moments over a test function space. We analyze the statistical estimation rate of the resulting estimator for arbitrary hypothesis spaces, with respect to an appropriate analogue of the mean squared error metric, for ill-posed inverse problems. We show that when the minimax criterion is regularized with a second moment penalty on the test function and the test function space is sufficiently rich, then the estimation rate scales with the critical radius of the hypothesis and test function spaces, a quantity which typically gives tight fast rates. Our main result follows from a novel localized Rademacher analysis of statistical learning problems defined via minimax objectives. We provide applications of our main results for several hypothesis spaces used in practice such as: reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces, high dimensional sparse linear functions, spaces defined via shape constraints, ensemble estimators such as random forests, and neural networks. For each of these applications we provide computationally efficient optimization methods for solving the corresponding minimax problem (e.g. stochastic first-order heuristics for neural networks). In several applications, we show how our modified mean squared error rate, combined with conditions that bound the ill-posedness of the inverse problem, lead to mean squared error rates. We conclude with an extensive experimental analysis of the proposed methods.

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