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Abstract:Estimating the uncertainty of a model's prediction on a test point is a crucial part of ensuring reliability and calibration under distribution shifts. A minimum description length approach to this problem uses the predictive normalized maximum likelihood (pNML) distribution, which considers every possible label for a data point, and decreases confidence in a prediction if other labels are also consistent with the model and training data. In this work we propose IF-COMP, a scalable and efficient approximation of the pNML distribution that linearizes the model with a temperature-scaled Boltzmann influence function. IF-COMP can be used to produce well-calibrated predictions on test points as well as measure complexity in both labelled and unlabelled settings. We experimentally validate IF-COMP on uncertainty calibration, mislabel detection, and OOD detection tasks, where it consistently matches or beats strong baseline methods.

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Authors:Sang Keun Choe, Hwijeen Ahn, Juhan Bae, Kewen Zhao, Minsoo Kang, Youngseog Chung, Adithya Pratapa, Willie Neiswanger, Emma Strubell, Teruko Mitamura(+4 more)

Abstract:Large language models (LLMs) are trained on a vast amount of human-written data, but data providers often remain uncredited. In response to this issue, data valuation (or data attribution), which quantifies the contribution or value of each data to the model output, has been discussed as a potential solution. Nevertheless, applying existing data valuation methods to recent LLMs and their vast training datasets has been largely limited by prohibitive compute and memory costs. In this work, we focus on influence functions, a popular gradient-based data valuation method, and significantly improve its scalability with an efficient gradient projection strategy called LoGra that leverages the gradient structure in backpropagation. We then provide a theoretical motivation of gradient projection approaches to influence functions to promote trust in the data valuation process. Lastly, we lower the barrier to implementing data valuation systems by introducing LogIX, a software package that can transform existing training code into data valuation code with minimal effort. In our data valuation experiments, LoGra achieves competitive accuracy against more expensive baselines while showing up to 6,500x improvement in throughput and 5x reduction in GPU memory usage when applied to Llama3-8B-Instruct and the 1B-token dataset.

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Abstract:Many training data attribution (TDA) methods aim to estimate how a model's behavior would change if one or more data points were removed from the training set. Methods based on implicit differentiation, such as influence functions, can be made computationally efficient, but fail to account for underspecification, the implicit bias of the optimization algorithm, or multi-stage training pipelines. By contrast, methods based on unrolling address these issues but face scalability challenges. In this work, we connect the implicit-differentiation-based and unrolling-based approaches and combine their benefits by introducing Source, an approximate unrolling-based TDA method that is computed using an influence-function-like formula. While being computationally efficient compared to unrolling-based approaches, Source is suitable in cases where implicit-differentiation-based approaches struggle, such as in non-converged models and multi-stage training pipelines. Empirically, Source outperforms existing TDA techniques in counterfactual prediction, especially in settings where implicit-differentiation-based approaches fall short.

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Abstract:Numerous capability and safety techniques of Large Language Models (LLMs), including RLHF, automated red-teaming, prompt engineering, and infilling, can be cast as sampling from an unnormalized target distribution defined by a given reward or potential function over the full sequence. In this work, we leverage the rich toolkit of Sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) for these probabilistic inference problems. In particular, we use learned twist functions to estimate the expected future value of the potential at each timestep, which enables us to focus inference-time computation on promising partial sequences. We propose a novel contrastive method for learning the twist functions, and establish connections with the rich literature of soft reinforcement learning. As a complementary application of our twisted SMC framework, we present methods for evaluating the accuracy of language model inference techniques using novel bidirectional SMC bounds on the log partition function. These bounds can be used to estimate the KL divergence between the inference and target distributions in both directions. We apply our inference evaluation techniques to show that twisted SMC is effective for sampling undesirable outputs from a pretrained model (a useful component of harmlessness training and automated red-teaming), generating reviews with varied sentiment, and performing infilling tasks.

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Abstract:Human mathematicians are often good at recognizing modular and reusable theorems that make complex mathematical results within reach. In this paper, we propose a novel method called theoREm-from-prooF extrACTOR (REFACTOR) for training neural networks to mimic this ability in formal mathematical theorem proving. We show on a set of unseen proofs, REFACTOR is able to extract 19.6% of the theorems that humans would use to write the proofs. When applying the model to the existing Metamath library, REFACTOR extracted 16 new theorems. With newly extracted theorems, we show that the existing proofs in the MetaMath database can be refactored. The new theorems are used very frequently after refactoring, with an average usage of 733.5 times, and help shorten the proof lengths. Lastly, we demonstrate that the prover trained on the new-theorem refactored dataset proves more test theorems and outperforms state-of-the-art baselines by frequently leveraging a diverse set of newly extracted theorems. Code can be found at https://github.com/jinpz/refactor.

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Authors:Evan Hubinger, Carson Denison, Jesse Mu, Mike Lambert, Meg Tong, Monte MacDiarmid, Tamera Lanham, Daniel M. Ziegler, Tim Maxwell, Newton Cheng(+29 more)

Abstract:Humans are capable of strategically deceptive behavior: behaving helpfully in most situations, but then behaving very differently in order to pursue alternative objectives when given the opportunity. If an AI system learned such a deceptive strategy, could we detect it and remove it using current state-of-the-art safety training techniques? To study this question, we construct proof-of-concept examples of deceptive behavior in large language models (LLMs). For example, we train models that write secure code when the prompt states that the year is 2023, but insert exploitable code when the stated year is 2024. We find that such backdoor behavior can be made persistent, so that it is not removed by standard safety training techniques, including supervised fine-tuning, reinforcement learning, and adversarial training (eliciting unsafe behavior and then training to remove it). The backdoor behavior is most persistent in the largest models and in models trained to produce chain-of-thought reasoning about deceiving the training process, with the persistence remaining even when the chain-of-thought is distilled away. Furthermore, rather than removing backdoors, we find that adversarial training can teach models to better recognize their backdoor triggers, effectively hiding the unsafe behavior. Our results suggest that, once a model exhibits deceptive behavior, standard techniques could fail to remove such deception and create a false impression of safety.

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Authors:Roger Grosse, Juhan Bae, Cem Anil, Nelson Elhage, Alex Tamkin, Amirhossein Tajdini, Benoit Steiner, Dustin Li, Esin Durmus, Ethan Perez(+7 more)

Abstract:When trying to gain better visibility into a machine learning model in order to understand and mitigate the associated risks, a potentially valuable source of evidence is: which training examples most contribute to a given behavior? Influence functions aim to answer a counterfactual: how would the model's parameters (and hence its outputs) change if a given sequence were added to the training set? While influence functions have produced insights for small models, they are difficult to scale to large language models (LLMs) due to the difficulty of computing an inverse-Hessian-vector product (IHVP). We use the Eigenvalue-corrected Kronecker-Factored Approximate Curvature (EK-FAC) approximation to scale influence functions up to LLMs with up to 52 billion parameters. In our experiments, EK-FAC achieves similar accuracy to traditional influence function estimators despite the IHVP computation being orders of magnitude faster. We investigate two algorithmic techniques to reduce the cost of computing gradients of candidate training sequences: TF-IDF filtering and query batching. We use influence functions to investigate the generalization patterns of LLMs, including the sparsity of the influence patterns, increasing abstraction with scale, math and programming abilities, cross-lingual generalization, and role-playing behavior. Despite many apparently sophisticated forms of generalization, we identify a surprising limitation: influences decay to near-zero when the order of key phrases is flipped. Overall, influence functions give us a powerful new tool for studying the generalization properties of LLMs.

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Authors:Rob Brekelmans, Sicong Huang, Marzyeh Ghassemi, Greg Ver Steeg, Roger Grosse, Alireza Makhzani

Abstract:Mutual information (MI) is a fundamental quantity in information theory and machine learning. However, direct estimation of MI is intractable, even if the true joint probability density for the variables of interest is known, as it involves estimating a potentially high-dimensional log partition function. In this work, we present a unifying view of existing MI bounds from the perspective of importance sampling, and propose three novel bounds based on this approach. Since accurate estimation of MI without density information requires a sample size exponential in the true MI, we assume either a single marginal or the full joint density information is known. In settings where the full joint density is available, we propose Multi-Sample Annealed Importance Sampling (AIS) bounds on MI, which we demonstrate can tightly estimate large values of MI in our experiments. In settings where only a single marginal distribution is known, we propose Generalized IWAE (GIWAE) and MINE-AIS bounds. Our GIWAE bound unifies variational and contrastive bounds in a single framework that generalizes InfoNCE, IWAE, and Barber-Agakov bounds. Our MINE-AIS method improves upon existing energy-based methods such as MINE-DV and MINE-F by directly optimizing a tighter lower bound on MI. MINE-AIS uses MCMC sampling to estimate gradients for training and Multi-Sample AIS for evaluating the bound. Our methods are particularly suitable for evaluating MI in deep generative models, since explicit forms of the marginal or joint densities are often available. We evaluate our bounds on estimating the MI of VAEs and GANs trained on the MNIST and CIFAR datasets, and showcase significant gains over existing bounds in these challenging settings with high ground truth MI.

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Abstract:It is often useful to compactly summarize important properties of model parameters and training data so that they can be used later without storing and/or iterating over the entire dataset. As a specific case, we consider estimating the Function Space Distance (FSD) over a training set, i.e. the average discrepancy between the outputs of two neural networks. We propose a Linearized Activation Function TRick (LAFTR) and derive an efficient approximation to FSD for ReLU neural networks. The key idea is to approximate the architecture as a linear network with stochastic gating. Despite requiring only one parameter per unit of the network, our approach outcompetes other parametric approximations with larger memory requirements. Applied to continual learning, our parametric approximation is competitive with state-of-the-art nonparametric approximations, which require storing many training examples. Furthermore, we show its efficacy in estimating influence functions accurately and detecting mislabeled examples without expensive iterations over the entire dataset.

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Abstract:Many problems in machine learning involve bilevel optimization (BLO), including hyperparameter optimization, meta-learning, and dataset distillation. Bilevel problems consist of two nested sub-problems, called the outer and inner problems, respectively. In practice, often at least one of these sub-problems is overparameterized. In this case, there are many ways to choose among optima that achieve equivalent objective values. Inspired by recent studies of the implicit bias induced by optimization algorithms in single-level optimization, we investigate the implicit bias of gradient-based algorithms for bilevel optimization. We delineate two standard BLO methods -- cold-start and warm-start -- and show that the converged solution or long-run behavior depends to a large degree on these and other algorithmic choices, such as the hypergradient approximation. We also show that the inner solutions obtained by warm-start BLO can encode a surprising amount of information about the outer objective, even when the outer parameters are low-dimensional. We believe that implicit bias deserves as central a role in the study of bilevel optimization as it has attained in the study of single-level neural net optimization.

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