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Andi Zhang, Tim Z. Xiao, Weiyang Liu, Robert Bamler, Damon Wischik

We revisit the likelihood ratio between a pretrained large language model (LLM) and its finetuned variant as a criterion for out-of-distribution (OOD) detection. The intuition behind such a criterion is that, the pretrained LLM has the prior knowledge about OOD data due to its large amount of training data, and once finetuned with the in-distribution data, the LLM has sufficient knowledge to distinguish their difference. Leveraging the power of LLMs, we show that, for the first time, the likelihood ratio can serve as an effective OOD detector. Moreover, we apply the proposed LLM-based likelihood ratio to detect OOD questions in question-answering (QA) systems, which can be used to improve the performance of specialized LLMs for general questions. Given that likelihood can be easily obtained by the loss functions within contemporary neural network frameworks, it is straightforward to implement this approach in practice. Since both the pretrained LLMs and its various finetuned models are available, our proposed criterion can be effortlessly incorporated for OOD detection without the need for further training. We conduct comprehensive evaluation across on multiple settings, including far OOD, near OOD, spam detection, and QA scenarios, to demonstrate the effectiveness of the method.

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Hanqi Zhou, Robert Bamler, Charley M. Wu, Álvaro Tejero-Cantero

Intelligent tutoring systems optimize the selection and timing of learning materials to enhance understanding and long-term retention. This requires estimates of both the learner's progress (''knowledge tracing''; KT), and the prerequisite structure of the learning domain (''knowledge mapping''). While recent deep learning models achieve high KT accuracy, they do so at the expense of the interpretability of psychologically-inspired models. In this work, we present a solution to this trade-off. PSI-KT is a hierarchical generative approach that explicitly models how both individual cognitive traits and the prerequisite structure of knowledge influence learning dynamics, thus achieving interpretability by design. Moreover, by using scalable Bayesian inference, PSI-KT targets the real-world need for efficient personalization even with a growing body of learners and learning histories. Evaluated on three datasets from online learning platforms, PSI-KT achieves superior multi-step predictive accuracy and scalable inference in continual-learning settings, all while providing interpretable representations of learner-specific traits and the prerequisite structure of knowledge that causally supports learning. In sum, predictive, scalable and interpretable knowledge tracing with solid knowledge mapping lays a key foundation for effective personalized learning to make education accessible to a broad, global audience.

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Laura Manduchi, Kushagra Pandey, Robert Bamler, Ryan Cotterell, Sina Däubener, Sophie Fellenz, Asja Fischer, Thomas Gärtner, Matthias Kirchler, Marius Kloft, Yingzhen Li, Christoph Lippert, Gerard de Melo, Eric Nalisnick, Björn Ommer, Rajesh Ranganath, Maja Rudolph, Karen Ullrich, Guy Van den Broeck, Julia E Vogt, Yixin Wang, Florian Wenzel, Frank Wood, Stephan Mandt, Vincent Fortuin

The field of deep generative modeling has grown rapidly and consistently over the years. With the availability of massive amounts of training data coupled with advances in scalable unsupervised learning paradigms, recent large-scale generative models show tremendous promise in synthesizing high-resolution images and text, as well as structured data such as videos and molecules. However, we argue that current large-scale generative AI models do not sufficiently address several fundamental issues that hinder their widespread adoption across domains. In this work, we aim to identify key unresolved challenges in modern generative AI paradigms that should be tackled to further enhance their capabilities, versatility, and reliability. By identifying these challenges, we aim to provide researchers with valuable insights for exploring fruitful research directions, thereby fostering the development of more robust and accessible generative AI solutions.

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Tim Z. Xiao, Weiyang Liu, Robert Bamler

Bayesian neural networks (BNNs) are a principled approach to modeling predictive uncertainties in deep learning, which are important in safety-critical applications. Since exact Bayesian inference over the weights in a BNN is intractable, various approximate inference methods exist, among which sampling methods such as Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (HMC) are often considered the gold standard. While HMC provides high-quality samples, it lacks interpretable summary statistics because its sample mean and variance is meaningless in neural networks due to permutation symmetry. In this paper, we first show that the role of permutations can be meaningfully quantified by a number of transpositions metric. We then show that the recently proposed rebasin method allows us to summarize HMC samples into a compact representation that provides a meaningful explicit uncertainty estimate for each weight in a neural network, thus unifying sampling methods with variational inference. We show that this compact representation allows us to compare trained BNNs directly in weight space across sampling methods and variational inference, and to efficiently prune neural networks trained without explicit Bayesian frameworks by exploiting uncertainty estimates from HMC.

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Tim Z. Xiao, Johannes Zenn, Robert Bamler

Variational autoencoders (VAEs) are popular models for representation learning but their encoders are susceptible to overfitting (Cremer et al., 2018) because they are trained on a finite training set instead of the true (continuous) data distribution $p_{\mathrm{data}}(\mathbf{x})$. Diffusion models, on the other hand, avoid this issue by keeping the encoder fixed. This makes their representations less interpretable, but it simplifies training, enabling accurate and continuous approximations of $p_{\mathrm{data}}(\mathbf{x})$. In this paper, we show that overfitting encoders in VAEs can be effectively mitigated by training on samples from a pre-trained diffusion model. These results are somewhat unexpected as recent findings (Alemohammad et al., 2023; Shumailov et al., 2023) observe a decay in generative performance when models are trained on data generated by another generative model. We analyze generalization performance, amortization gap, and robustness of VAEs trained with our proposed method on three different data sets. We find improvements in all metrics compared to both normal training and conventional data augmentation methods, and we show that a modest amount of samples from the diffusion model suffices to obtain these gains.

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Johannes Zenn, Robert Bamler

Annealed Importance Sampling (AIS) moves particles along a Markov chain from a tractable initial distribution to an intractable target distribution. The recently proposed Differentiable AIS (DAIS) (Geffner and Domke, 2021; Zhang et al., 2021) enables efficient optimization of the transition kernels of AIS and of the distributions. However, we observe a low effective sample size in DAIS, indicating degenerate distributions. We thus propose to extend DAIS by a resampling step inspired by Sequential Monte Carlo. Surprisingly, we find empirically-and can explain theoretically-that it is not necessary to differentiate through the resampling step which avoids gradient variance issues observed in similar approaches for Particle Filters (Maddison et al., 2017; Naesseth et al., 2018; Le et al., 2018).

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Tim Z. Xiao, Robert Bamler

Variational Autoencoders (VAEs) were originally motivated (Kingma & Welling, 2014) as probabilistic generative models in which one performs approximate Bayesian inference. The proposal of $\beta$-VAEs (Higgins et al., 2017) breaks this interpretation and generalizes VAEs to application domains beyond generative modeling (e.g., representation learning, clustering, or lossy data compression) by introducing an objective function that allows practitioners to trade off between the information content ("bit rate") of the latent representation and the distortion of reconstructed data (Alemi et al., 2018). In this paper, we reconsider this rate/distortion trade-off in the context of hierarchical VAEs, i.e., VAEs with more than one layer of latent variables. We identify a general class of inference models for which one can split the rate into contributions from each layer, which can then be tuned independently. We derive theoretical bounds on the performance of downstream tasks as functions of the individual layers' rates and verify our theoretical findings in large-scale experiments. Our results provide guidance for practitioners on which region in rate-space to target for a given application.

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Fabian Jirasek, Robert Bamler, Stephan Mandt

We present a generic way to hybridize physical and data-driven methods for predicting physicochemical properties. The approach `distills' the physical method's predictions into a prior model and combines it with sparse experimental data using Bayesian inference. We apply the new approach to predict activity coefficients at infinite dilution and obtain significant improvements compared to the data-driven and physical baselines and established ensemble methods from the machine learning literature.

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Robert Bamler

Entropy coding is the backbone data compression. Novel machine-learning based compression methods often use a new entropy coder called Asymmetric Numeral Systems (ANS) [Duda et al., 2015], which provides very close to optimal bitrates and simplifies [Townsend et al., 2019] advanced compression techniques such as bits-back coding. However, researchers with a background in machine learning often struggle to understand how ANS works, which prevents them from exploiting its full versatility. This paper is meant as an educational resource to make ANS more approachable by presenting it from a new perspective of latent variable models and the so-called bits-back trick. We guide the reader step by step to a complete implementation of ANS in the Python programming language, which we then generalize for more advanced use cases. We also present and empirically evaluate an open-source library of various entropy coders designed for both research and production use. Related teaching videos and problem sets are available online.

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Alex Boyd, Robert Bamler, Stephan Mandt, Padhraic Smyth

Continuous-time event data are common in applications such as individual behavior data, financial transactions, and medical health records. Modeling such data can be very challenging, in particular for applications with many different types of events, since it requires a model to predict the event types as well as the time of occurrence. Recurrent neural networks that parameterize time-varying intensity functions are the current state-of-the-art for predictive modeling with such data. These models typically assume that all event sequences come from the same data distribution. However, in many applications event sequences are generated by different sources, or users, and their characteristics can be very different. In this paper, we extend the broad class of neural marked point process models to mixtures of latent embeddings, where each mixture component models the characteristic traits of a given user. Our approach relies on augmenting these models with a latent variable that encodes user characteristics, represented by a mixture model over user behavior that is trained via amortized variational inference. We evaluate our methods on four large real-world datasets and demonstrate systematic improvements from our approach over existing work for a variety of predictive metrics such as log-likelihood, next event ranking, and source-of-sequence identification.

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