Small farms contribute to a large share of the productive land in developing countries. In regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, where 80% of farms are small (under 2 ha in size), the task of mapping smallholder cropland is an important part of tracking sustainability measures such as crop productivity. However, the visually diverse and nuanced appearance of small farms has limited the effectiveness of traditional approaches to cropland mapping. Here we introduce a new approach based on the detection of harvest piles characteristic of many smallholder systems throughout the world. We present HarvestNet, a dataset for mapping the presence of farms in the Ethiopian regions of Tigray and Amhara during 2020-2023, collected using expert knowledge and satellite images, totaling 7k hand-labeled images and 2k ground collected labels. We also benchmark a set of baselines including SOTA models in remote sensing with our best models having around 80% classification performance on hand labelled data and 90%, 98% accuracy on ground truth data for Tigray, Amhara respectively. We also perform a visual comparison with a widely used pre-existing coverage map and show that our model detects an extra 56,621 hectares of cropland in Tigray. We conclude that remote sensing of harvest piles can contribute to more timely and accurate cropland assessments in food insecure region.
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are fueling a new paradigm of discoveries in natural sciences. Today, AI has started to advance natural sciences by improving, accelerating, and enabling our understanding of natural phenomena at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, giving rise to a new area of research known as AI for science (AI4Science). Being an emerging research paradigm, AI4Science is unique in that it is an enormous and highly interdisciplinary area. Thus, a unified and technical treatment of this field is needed yet challenging. This paper aims to provide a technically thorough account of a subarea of AI4Science; namely, AI for quantum, atomistic, and continuum systems. These areas aim at understanding the physical world from the subatomic (wavefunctions and electron density), atomic (molecules, proteins, materials, and interactions), to macro (fluids, climate, and subsurface) scales and form an important subarea of AI4Science. A unique advantage of focusing on these areas is that they largely share a common set of challenges, thereby allowing a unified and foundational treatment. A key common challenge is how to capture physics first principles, especially symmetries, in natural systems by deep learning methods. We provide an in-depth yet intuitive account of techniques to achieve equivariance to symmetry transformations. We also discuss other common technical challenges, including explainability, out-of-distribution generalization, knowledge transfer with foundation and large language models, and uncertainty quantification. To facilitate learning and education, we provide categorized lists of resources that we found to be useful. We strive to be thorough and unified and hope this initial effort may trigger more community interests and efforts to further advance AI4Science.
Generating learning-friendly representations for points in space is a fundamental and long-standing problem in ML. Recently, multi-scale encoding schemes (such as Space2Vec and NeRF) were proposed to directly encode any point in 2D/3D Euclidean space as a high-dimensional vector, and has been successfully applied to various geospatial prediction and generative tasks. However, all current 2D and 3D location encoders are designed to model point distances in Euclidean space. So when applied to large-scale real-world GPS coordinate datasets, which require distance metric learning on the spherical surface, both types of models can fail due to the map projection distortion problem (2D) and the spherical-to-Euclidean distance approximation error (3D). To solve these problems, we propose a multi-scale location encoder called Sphere2Vec which can preserve spherical distances when encoding point coordinates on a spherical surface. We developed a unified view of distance-reserving encoding on spheres based on the DFS. We also provide theoretical proof that the Sphere2Vec preserves the spherical surface distance between any two points, while existing encoding schemes do not. Experiments on 20 synthetic datasets show that Sphere2Vec can outperform all baseline models on all these datasets with up to 30.8% error rate reduction. We then apply Sphere2Vec to three geo-aware image classification tasks - fine-grained species recognition, Flickr image recognition, and remote sensing image classification. Results on 7 real-world datasets show the superiority of Sphere2Vec over multiple location encoders on all three tasks. Further analysis shows that Sphere2Vec outperforms other location encoder models, especially in the polar regions and data-sparse areas because of its nature for spherical surface distance preservation. Code and data are available at https://gengchenmai.github.io/sphere2vec-website/.
Genomic (DNA) sequences encode an enormous amount of information for gene regulation and protein synthesis. Similar to natural language models, researchers have proposed foundation models in genomics to learn generalizable features from unlabeled genome data that can then be fine-tuned for downstream tasks such as identifying regulatory elements. Due to the quadratic scaling of attention, previous Transformer-based genomic models have used 512 to 4k tokens as context (<0.001% of the human genome), significantly limiting the modeling of long-range interactions in DNA. In addition, these methods rely on tokenizers to aggregate meaningful DNA units, losing single nucleotide resolution where subtle genetic variations can completely alter protein function via single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Recently, Hyena, a large language model based on implicit convolutions was shown to match attention in quality while allowing longer context lengths and lower time complexity. Leveraging Hyenas new long-range capabilities, we present HyenaDNA, a genomic foundation model pretrained on the human reference genome with context lengths of up to 1 million tokens at the single nucleotide-level, an up to 500x increase over previous dense attention-based models. HyenaDNA scales sub-quadratically in sequence length (training up to 160x faster than Transformer), uses single nucleotide tokens, and has full global context at each layer. We explore what longer context enables - including the first use of in-context learning in genomics for simple adaptation to novel tasks without updating pretrained model weights. On fine-tuned benchmarks from the Nucleotide Transformer, HyenaDNA reaches state-of-the-art (SotA) on 12 of 17 datasets using a model with orders of magnitude less parameters and pretraining data. On the GenomicBenchmarks, HyenaDNA surpasses SotA on all 8 datasets on average by +9 accuracy points.
In many domains, autoregressive models can attain high likelihood on the task of predicting the next observation. However, this maximum-likelihood (MLE) objective does not necessarily match a downstream use-case of autoregressively generating high-quality sequences. The MLE objective weights sequences proportionally to their frequency under the data distribution, with no guidance for the model's behaviour out of distribution (OOD): leading to compounding error during autoregressive generation. In order to address this compounding error problem, we formulate sequence generation as an imitation learning (IL) problem. This allows us to minimize a variety of divergences between the distribution of sequences generated by an autoregressive model and sequences from a dataset, including divergences with weight on OOD generated sequences. The IL framework also allows us to incorporate backtracking by introducing a backspace action into the generation process. This further mitigates the compounding error problem by allowing the model to revert a sampled token if it takes the sequence OOD. Our resulting method, SequenceMatch, can be implemented without adversarial training or major architectural changes. We identify the SequenceMatch-$\chi^2$ divergence as a more suitable training objective for autoregressive models which are used for generation. We show that empirically, SequenceMatch training leads to improvements over MLE on text generation with language models.
Diffusion models are powerful generative models but suffer from slow sampling, often taking 1000 sequential denoising steps for one sample. As a result, considerable efforts have been directed toward reducing the number of denoising steps, but these methods hurt sample quality. Instead of reducing the number of denoising steps (trading quality for speed), in this paper we explore an orthogonal approach: can we run the denoising steps in parallel (trading compute for speed)? In spite of the sequential nature of the denoising steps, we show that surprisingly it is possible to parallelize sampling via Picard iterations, by guessing the solution of future denoising steps and iteratively refining until convergence. With this insight, we present ParaDiGMS, a novel method to accelerate the sampling of pretrained diffusion models by denoising multiple steps in parallel. ParaDiGMS is the first diffusion sampling method that enables trading compute for speed and is even compatible with existing fast sampling techniques such as DDIM and DPMSolver. Using ParaDiGMS, we improve sampling speed by 2-4x across a range of robotics and image generation models, giving state-of-the-art sampling speeds of 0.2s on 100-step DiffusionPolicy and 16s on 1000-step StableDiffusion-v2 with no measurable degradation of task reward, FID score, or CLIP score.
Recent progress in self-supervision has shown that pre-training large neural networks on vast amounts of unsupervised data can lead to substantial increases in generalization to downstream tasks. Such models, recently coined foundation models, have been transformational to the field of natural language processing. Variants have also been proposed for image data, but their applicability to remote sensing tasks is limited. To stimulate the development of foundation models for Earth monitoring, we propose a benchmark comprised of six classification and six segmentation tasks, which were carefully curated and adapted to be both relevant to the field and well-suited for model evaluation. We accompany this benchmark with a robust methodology for evaluating models and reporting aggregated results to enable a reliable assessment of progress. Finally, we report results for 20 baselines to gain information about the performance of existing models. We believe that this benchmark will be a driver of progress across a variety of Earth monitoring tasks.
The emergence of various notions of ``consistency'' in diffusion models has garnered considerable attention and helped achieve improved sample quality, likelihood estimation, and accelerated sampling. Although similar concepts have been proposed in the literature, the precise relationships among them remain unclear. In this study, we establish theoretical connections between three recent ``consistency'' notions designed to enhance diffusion models for distinct objectives. Our insights offer the potential for a more comprehensive and encompassing framework for consistency-type models.
While large-scale unsupervised language models (LMs) learn broad world knowledge and some reasoning skills, achieving precise control of their behavior is difficult due to the completely unsupervised nature of their training. Existing methods for gaining such steerability collect human labels of the relative quality of model generations and fine-tune the unsupervised LM to align with these preferences, often with reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF). However, RLHF is a complex and often unstable procedure, first fitting a reward model that reflects the human preferences, and then fine-tuning the large unsupervised LM using reinforcement learning to maximize this estimated reward without drifting too far from the original model. In this paper, we leverage a mapping between reward functions and optimal policies to show that this constrained reward maximization problem can be optimized exactly with a single stage of policy training, essentially solving a classification problem on the human preference data. The resulting algorithm, which we call Direct Preference Optimization (DPO), is stable, performant and computationally lightweight, eliminating the need for fitting a reward model, sampling from the LM during fine-tuning, or performing significant hyperparameter tuning. Our experiments show that DPO can fine-tune LMs to align with human preferences as well as or better than existing methods. Notably, fine-tuning with DPO exceeds RLHF's ability to control sentiment of generations and improves response quality in summarization and single-turn dialogue while being substantially simpler to implement and train.