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Samira Ebrahimi Kahou

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Spectral Temporal Contrastive Learning

Dec 01, 2023
Sacha Morin, Somjit Nath, Samira Ebrahimi Kahou, Guy Wolf

Learning useful data representations without requiring labels is a cornerstone of modern deep learning. Self-supervised learning methods, particularly contrastive learning (CL), have proven successful by leveraging data augmentations to define positive pairs. This success has prompted a number of theoretical studies to better understand CL and investigate theoretical bounds for downstream linear probing tasks. This work is concerned with the temporal contrastive learning (TCL) setting where the sequential structure of the data is used instead to define positive pairs, which is more commonly used in RL and robotics contexts. In this paper, we adapt recent work on Spectral CL to formulate Spectral Temporal Contrastive Learning (STCL). We discuss a population loss based on a state graph derived from a time-homogeneous reversible Markov chain with uniform stationary distribution. The STCL loss enables to connect the linear probing performance to the spectral properties of the graph, and can be estimated by considering previously observed data sequences as an ensemble of MCMC chains.

* Accepted to Self-Supervised Learning - Theory and Practice, NeurIPS Workshop, 2023 
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Auxiliary Losses for Learning Generalizable Concept-based Models

Nov 18, 2023
Ivaxi Sheth, Samira Ebrahimi Kahou

The increasing use of neural networks in various applications has lead to increasing apprehensions, underscoring the necessity to understand their operations beyond mere final predictions. As a solution to enhance model transparency, Concept Bottleneck Models (CBMs) have gained popularity since their introduction. CBMs essentially limit the latent space of a model to human-understandable high-level concepts. While beneficial, CBMs have been reported to often learn irrelevant concept representations that consecutively damage model performance. To overcome the performance trade-off, we propose cooperative-Concept Bottleneck Model (coop-CBM). The concept representation of our model is particularly meaningful when fine-grained concept labels are absent. Furthermore, we introduce the concept orthogonal loss (COL) to encourage the separation between the concept representations and to reduce the intra-concept distance. This paper presents extensive experiments on real-world datasets for image classification tasks, namely CUB, AwA2, CelebA and TIL. We also study the performance of coop-CBM models under various distributional shift settings. We show that our proposed method achieves higher accuracy in all distributional shift settings even compared to the black-box models with the highest concept accuracy.

* Neurips 2023 
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Transparent Anomaly Detection via Concept-based Explanations

Nov 01, 2023
Laya Rafiee Sevyeri, Ivaxi Sheth, Farhood Farahnak, Samira Ebrahimi Kahou, Shirin Abbasinejad Enger

Advancements in deep learning techniques have given a boost to the performance of anomaly detection. However, real-world and safety-critical applications demand a level of transparency and reasoning beyond accuracy. The task of anomaly detection (AD) focuses on finding whether a given sample follows the learned distribution. Existing methods lack the ability to reason with clear explanations for their outcomes. Hence to overcome this challenge, we propose Transparent {A}nomaly Detection {C}oncept {E}xplanations (ACE). ACE is able to provide human interpretable explanations in the form of concepts along with anomaly prediction. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that proposes interpretable by-design anomaly detection. In addition to promoting transparency in AD, it allows for effective human-model interaction. Our proposed model shows either higher or comparable results to black-box uninterpretable models. We validate the performance of ACE across three realistic datasets - bird classification on CUB-200-2011, challenging histopathology slide image classification on TIL-WSI-TCGA, and gender classification on CelebA. We further demonstrate that our concept learning paradigm can be seamlessly integrated with other classification-based AD methods.

* Accepted at Neurips XAI in Action workshop 
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Fairness Under Demographic Scarce Regime

Jul 24, 2023
Patrik Joslin Kenfack, Samira Ebrahimi Kahou, Ulrich Aïvodji

Most existing works on fairness assume the model has full access to demographic information. However, there exist scenarios where demographic information is partially available because a record was not maintained throughout data collection or due to privacy reasons. This setting is known as demographic scarce regime. Prior research have shown that training an attribute classifier to replace the missing sensitive attributes (proxy) can still improve fairness. However, the use of proxy-sensitive attributes worsens fairness-accuracy trade-offs compared to true sensitive attributes. To address this limitation, we propose a framework to build attribute classifiers that achieve better fairness-accuracy trade-offs. Our method introduces uncertainty awareness in the attribute classifier and enforces fairness on samples with demographic information inferred with the lowest uncertainty. We show empirically that enforcing fairness constraints on samples with uncertain sensitive attributes is detrimental to fairness and accuracy. Our experiments on two datasets showed that the proposed framework yields models with significantly better fairness-accuracy trade-offs compared to classic attribute classifiers. Surprisingly, our framework outperforms models trained with constraints on the true sensitive attributes.

* 14 pages, 7 pages 
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Transformers in Reinforcement Learning: A Survey

Jul 12, 2023
Pranav Agarwal, Aamer Abdul Rahman, Pierre-Luc St-Charles, Simon J. D. Prince, Samira Ebrahimi Kahou

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Transformers have significantly impacted domains like natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics, where they improve performance compared to other neural networks. This survey explores how transformers are used in reinforcement learning (RL), where they are seen as a promising solution for addressing challenges such as unstable training, credit assignment, lack of interpretability, and partial observability. We begin by providing a brief domain overview of RL, followed by a discussion on the challenges of classical RL algorithms. Next, we delve into the properties of the transformer and its variants and discuss the characteristics that make them well-suited to address the challenges inherent in RL. We examine the application of transformers to various aspects of RL, including representation learning, transition and reward function modeling, and policy optimization. We also discuss recent research that aims to enhance the interpretability and efficiency of transformers in RL, using visualization techniques and efficient training strategies. Often, the transformer architecture must be tailored to the specific needs of a given application. We present a broad overview of how transformers have been adapted for several applications, including robotics, medicine, language modeling, cloud computing, and combinatorial optimization. We conclude by discussing the limitations of using transformers in RL and assess their potential for catalyzing future breakthroughs in this field.

* 35 pages, 11 figures 
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CAMMARL: Conformal Action Modeling in Multi Agent Reinforcement Learning

Jun 19, 2023
Nikunj Gupta, Samira Ebrahimi Kahou

Before taking actions in an environment with more than one intelligent agent, an autonomous agent may benefit from reasoning about the other agents and utilizing a notion of a guarantee or confidence about the behavior of the system. In this article, we propose a novel multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) algorithm CAMMARL, which involves modeling the actions of other agents in different situations in the form of confident sets, i.e., sets containing their true actions with a high probability. We then use these estimates to inform an agent's decision-making. For estimating such sets, we use the concept of conformal predictions, by means of which, we not only obtain an estimate of the most probable outcome but get to quantify the operable uncertainty as well. For instance, we can predict a set that provably covers the true predictions with high probabilities (e.g., 95%). Through several experiments in two fully cooperative multi-agent tasks, we show that CAMMARL elevates the capabilities of an autonomous agent in MARL by modeling conformal prediction sets over the behavior of other agents in the environment and utilizing such estimates to enhance its policy learning. All developed codes can be found here:

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Discovering Object-Centric Generalized Value Functions From Pixels

Apr 27, 2023
Somjit Nath, Gopeshh Raaj Subbaraj, Khimya Khetarpal, Samira Ebrahimi Kahou

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Deep Reinforcement Learning has shown significant progress in extracting useful representations from high-dimensional inputs albeit using hand-crafted auxiliary tasks and pseudo rewards. Automatically learning such representations in an object-centric manner geared towards control and fast adaptation remains an open research problem. In this paper, we introduce a method that tries to discover meaningful features from objects, translating them to temporally coherent "question" functions and leveraging the subsequent learned general value functions for control. We compare our approach with state-of-the-art techniques alongside other ablations and show competitive performance in both stationary and non-stationary settings. Finally, we also investigate the discovered general value functions and through qualitative analysis show that the learned representations are not only interpretable but also, centered around objects that are invariant to changes across tasks facilitating fast adaptation.

* Accepted at ICML 2023 
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Source-free Domain Adaptation Requires Penalized Diversity

Apr 12, 2023
Laya Rafiee Sevyeri, Ivaxi Sheth, Farhood Farahnak, Alexandre See, Samira Ebrahimi Kahou, Thomas Fevens, Mohammad Havaei

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While neural networks are capable of achieving human-like performance in many tasks such as image classification, the impressive performance of each model is limited to its own dataset. Source-free domain adaptation (SFDA) was introduced to address knowledge transfer between different domains in the absence of source data, thus, increasing data privacy. Diversity in representation space can be vital to a model`s adaptability in varied and difficult domains. In unsupervised SFDA, the diversity is limited to learning a single hypothesis on the source or learning multiple hypotheses with a shared feature extractor. Motivated by the improved predictive performance of ensembles, we propose a novel unsupervised SFDA algorithm that promotes representational diversity through the use of separate feature extractors with Distinct Backbone Architectures (DBA). Although diversity in feature space is increased, the unconstrained mutual information (MI) maximization may potentially introduce amplification of weak hypotheses. Thus we introduce the Weak Hypothesis Penalization (WHP) regularizer as a mitigation strategy. Our work proposes Penalized Diversity (PD) where the synergy of DBA and WHP is applied to unsupervised source-free domain adaptation for covariate shift. In addition, PD is augmented with a weighted MI maximization objective for label distribution shift. Empirical results on natural, synthetic, and medical domains demonstrate the effectiveness of PD under different distributional shifts.

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Bridging the Gap Between Offline and Online Reinforcement Learning Evaluation Methodologies

Dec 15, 2022
Shivakanth Sujit, Pedro H. M. Braga, Jorg Bornschein, Samira Ebrahimi Kahou

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Reinforcement learning (RL) has shown great promise with algorithms learning in environments with large state and action spaces purely from scalar reward signals. A crucial challenge for current deep RL algorithms is that they require a tremendous amount of environment interactions for learning. This can be infeasible in situations where such interactions are expensive; such as in robotics. Offline RL algorithms try to address this issue by bootstrapping the learning process from existing logged data without needing to interact with the environment from the very beginning. While online RL algorithms are typically evaluated as a function of the number of environment interactions, there exists no single established protocol for evaluating offline RL methods.In this paper, we propose a sequential approach to evaluate offline RL algorithms as a function of the training set size and thus by their data efficiency. Sequential evaluation provides valuable insights into the data efficiency of the learning process and the robustness of algorithms to distribution changes in the dataset while also harmonizing the visualization of the offline and online learning phases. Our approach is generally applicable and easy to implement. We compare several existing offline RL algorithms using this approach and present insights from a variety of tasks and offline datasets.

* Offline RL Workshop, NeurIPS 2022 
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Pitfalls of Conditional Batch Normalization for Contextual Multi-Modal Learning

Nov 28, 2022
Ivaxi Sheth, Aamer Abdul Rahman, Mohammad Havaei, Samira Ebrahimi Kahou

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Humans have perfected the art of learning from multiple modalities through sensory organs. Despite their impressive predictive performance on a single modality, neural networks cannot reach human level accuracy with respect to multiple modalities. This is a particularly challenging task due to variations in the structure of respective modalities. Conditional Batch Normalization (CBN) is a popular method that was proposed to learn contextual features to aid deep learning tasks. This technique uses auxiliary data to improve representational power by learning affine transformations for convolutional neural networks. Despite the boost in performance observed by using CBN layers, our work reveals that the visual features learned by introducing auxiliary data via CBN deteriorates. We perform comprehensive experiments to evaluate the brittleness of CBN networks to various datasets, suggesting that learning from visual features alone could often be superior for generalization. We evaluate CBN models on natural images for bird classification and histology images for cancer type classification. We observe that the CBN network learns close to no visual features on the bird classification dataset and partial visual features on the histology dataset. Our extensive experiments reveal that CBN may encourage shortcut learning between the auxiliary data and labels.

* Accepted at ICBINB workshop @ NeurIPS 2022 
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