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Thommen George Karimpanal, Laknath Buddhika Semage, Santu Rana, Hung Le, Truyen Tran, Sunil Gupta, Svetha Venkatesh

Large language models (LLMs) have recently demonstrated their impressive ability to provide context-aware responses via text. This ability could potentially be used to predict plausible solutions in sequential decision making tasks pertaining to pattern completion. For example, by observing a partial stack of cubes, LLMs can predict the correct sequence in which the remaining cubes should be stacked by extrapolating the observed patterns (e.g., cube sizes, colors or other attributes) in the partial stack. In this work, we introduce LaGR (Language-Guided Reinforcement learning), which uses this predictive ability of LLMs to propose solutions to tasks that have been partially completed by a primary reinforcement learning (RL) agent, in order to subsequently guide the latter's training. However, as RL training is generally not sample-efficient, deploying this approach would inherently imply that the LLM be repeatedly queried for solutions; a process that can be expensive and infeasible. To address this issue, we introduce SEQ (sample efficient querying), where we simultaneously train a secondary RL agent to decide when the LLM should be queried for solutions. Specifically, we use the quality of the solutions emanating from the LLM as the reward to train this agent. We show that our proposed framework LaGR-SEQ enables more efficient primary RL training, while simultaneously minimizing the number of queries to the LLM. We demonstrate our approach on a series of tasks and highlight the advantages of our approach, along with its limitations and potential future research directions.

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Manisha Senadeera, Santu Rana, Sunil Gupta, Svetha Venkatesh

Model selection is an integral problem of model based optimization techniques such as Bayesian optimization (BO). Current approaches often treat model selection as an estimation problem, to be periodically updated with observations coming from the optimization iterations. In this paper, we propose an alternative way to achieve both efficiently. Specifically, we propose a novel way of integrating model selection and BO for the single goal of reaching the function optima faster. The algorithm moves back and forth between BO in the model space and BO in the function space, where the goodness of the recommended model is captured by a score function and fed back, capturing how well the model helped convergence in the function space. The score function is derived in such a way that it neutralizes the effect of the moving nature of the BO in the function space, thus keeping the model selection problem stationary. This back and forth leads to quick convergence for both model selection and BO in the function space. In addition to improved sample efficiency, the framework outputs information about the black-box function. Convergence is proved, and experimental results show significant improvement compared to standard BO.

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Manisha Senadeera, Thommen Karimpanal George, Sunil Gupta, Stephan Jacobs, Santu Rana

We can usually assume others have goals analogous to our own. This assumption can also, at times, be applied to multi-agent games - e.g. Agent 1's attraction to green pellets is analogous to Agent 2's attraction to red pellets. This "analogy" assumption is tied closely to the cognitive process known as empathy. Inspired by empathy, we design a simple and explainable architecture to model another agent's action-value function. This involves learning an "Imagination Network" to transform the other agent's observed state in order to produce a human-interpretable "empathetic state" which, when presented to the learning agent, produces behaviours that mimic the other agent. Our approach is applicable to multi-agent scenarios consisting of a single learning agent and other (independent) agents acting according to fixed policies. This architecture is particularly beneficial for (but not limited to) algorithms using a composite value or reward function. We show our method produces better performance in multi-agent games, where it robustly estimates the other's model in different environment configurations. Additionally, we show that the empathetic states are human interpretable, and thus verifiable.

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Sunil Gupta, Alistair Shilton, Arun Kumar A V, Shannon Ryan, Majid Abdolshah, Hung Le, Santu Rana, Julian Berk, Mahad Rashid, Svetha Venkatesh

In this paper we introduce BO-Muse, a new approach to human-AI teaming for the optimization of expensive black-box functions. Inspired by the intrinsic difficulty of extracting expert knowledge and distilling it back into AI models and by observations of human behaviour in real-world experimental design, our algorithm lets the human expert take the lead in the experimental process. The human expert can use their domain expertise to its full potential, while the AI plays the role of a muse, injecting novelty and searching for areas of weakness to break the human out of over-exploitation induced by cognitive entrenchment. With mild assumptions, we show that our algorithm converges sub-linearly, at a rate faster than the AI or human alone. We validate our algorithm using synthetic data and with human experts performing real-world experiments.

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Dat Phan-Trong, Hung Tran-The, Sunil Gupta

Bayesian Optimization (BO) is an effective approach for global optimization of black-box functions when function evaluations are expensive. Most prior works use Gaussian processes to model the black-box function, however, the use of kernels in Gaussian processes leads to two problems: first, the kernel-based methods scale poorly with the number of data points and second, kernel methods are usually not effective on complex structured high dimensional data due to curse of dimensionality. Therefore, we propose a novel black-box optimization algorithm where the black-box function is modeled using a neural network. Our algorithm does not need a Bayesian neural network to estimate predictive uncertainty and is therefore computationally favorable. We analyze the theoretical behavior of our algorithm in terms of regret bound using advances in NTK theory showing its efficient convergence. We perform experiments with both synthetic and real-world optimization tasks and show that our algorithm is more sample efficient compared to existing methods.

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Alistair Shilton, Sunil Gupta, Santu Rana, Svetha Venkatesh

The study of Neural Tangent Kernels (NTKs) has provided much needed insight into convergence and generalization properties of neural networks in the over-parametrized (wide) limit by approximating the network using a first-order Taylor expansion with respect to its weights in the neighborhood of their initialization values. This allows neural network training to be analyzed from the perspective of reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces (RKHS), which is informative in the over-parametrized regime, but a poor approximation for narrower networks as the weights change more during training. Our goal is to extend beyond the limits of NTK toward a more general theory. We construct an exact power-series representation of the neural network in a finite neighborhood of the initial weights as an inner product of two feature maps, respectively from data and weight-step space, to feature space, allowing neural network training to be analyzed from the perspective of reproducing kernel {\em Banach} space (RKBS). We prove that, regardless of width, the training sequence produced by gradient descent can be exactly replicated by regularized sequential learning in RKBS. Using this, we present novel bound on uniform convergence where the iterations count and learning rate play a central role, giving new theoretical insight into neural network training.

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Thanh Nguyen-Tang, Ming Yin, Sunil Gupta, Svetha Venkatesh, Raman Arora

Sample-efficient offline reinforcement learning (RL) with linear function approximation has recently been studied extensively. Much of prior work has yielded the minimax-optimal bound of $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(\frac{1}{\sqrt{K}})$, with $K$ being the number of episodes in the offline data. In this work, we seek to understand instance-dependent bounds for offline RL with function approximation. We present an algorithm called Bootstrapped and Constrained Pessimistic Value Iteration (BCP-VI), which leverages data bootstrapping and constrained optimization on top of pessimism. We show that under a partial data coverage assumption, that of \emph{concentrability} with respect to an optimal policy, the proposed algorithm yields a fast rate of $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(\frac{1}{K})$ for offline RL when there is a positive gap in the optimal Q-value functions, even when the offline data were adaptively collected. Moreover, when the linear features of the optimal actions in the states reachable by an optimal policy span those reachable by the behavior policy and the optimal actions are unique, offline RL achieves absolute zero sub-optimality error when $K$ exceeds a (finite) instance-dependent threshold. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(\frac{1}{K})$ bound and absolute zero sub-optimality bound respectively for offline RL with linear function approximation from adaptive data with partial coverage. We also provide instance-agnostic and instance-dependent information-theoretical lower bounds to complement our upper bounds.

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Dupati Srikar Chandra, Sakshi Varshney, P. K. Srijith, Sunil Gupta

Humans learn continually throughout their lifespan by accumulating diverse knowledge and fine-tuning it for future tasks. When presented with a similar goal, neural networks suffer from catastrophic forgetting if data distributions across sequential tasks are not stationary over the course of learning. An effective approach to address such continual learning (CL) problems is to use hypernetworks which generate task dependent weights for a target network. However, the continual learning performance of existing hypernetwork based approaches are affected by the assumption of independence of the weights across the layers in order to maintain parameter efficiency. To address this limitation, we propose a novel approach that uses a dependency preserving hypernetwork to generate weights for the target network while also maintaining the parameter efficiency. We propose to use recurrent neural network (RNN) based hypernetwork that can generate layer weights efficiently while allowing for dependencies across them. In addition, we propose novel regularisation and network growth techniques for the RNN based hypernetwork to further improve the continual learning performance. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed methods, we conducted experiments on several image classification continual learning tasks and settings. We found that the proposed methods based on the RNN hypernetworks outperformed the baselines in all these CL settings and tasks.

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Dang Nguyen, Sunil Gupta, Kien Do, Svetha Venkatesh

Knowledge distillation (KD) is an efficient approach to transfer the knowledge from a large "teacher" network to a smaller "student" network. Traditional KD methods require lots of labeled training samples and a white-box teacher (parameters are accessible) to train a good student. However, these resources are not always available in real-world applications. The distillation process often happens at an external party side where we do not have access to much data, and the teacher does not disclose its parameters due to security and privacy concerns. To overcome these challenges, we propose a black-box few-shot KD method to train the student with few unlabeled training samples and a black-box teacher. Our main idea is to expand the training set by generating a diverse set of out-of-distribution synthetic images using MixUp and a conditional variational auto-encoder. These synthetic images along with their labels obtained from the teacher are used to train the student. We conduct extensive experiments to show that our method significantly outperforms recent SOTA few/zero-shot KD methods on image classification tasks. The code and models are available at: https://github.com/nphdang/FS-BBT

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Haripriya Harikumar, Santu Rana, Kien Do, Sunil Gupta, Wei Zong, Willy Susilo, Svetha Venkastesh

Adversarial attacks on deep learning-based models pose a significant threat to the current AI infrastructure. Among them, Trojan attacks are the hardest to defend against. In this paper, we first introduce a variation of the Badnet kind of attacks that introduces Trojan backdoors to multiple target classes and allows triggers to be placed anywhere in the image. The former makes it more potent and the latter makes it extremely easy to carry out the attack in the physical space. The state-of-the-art Trojan detection methods fail with this threat model. To defend against this attack, we first introduce a trigger reverse-engineering mechanism that uses multiple images to recover a variety of potential triggers. We then propose a detection mechanism by measuring the transferability of such recovered triggers. A Trojan trigger will have very high transferability i.e. they make other images also go to the same class. We study many practical advantages of our attack method and then demonstrate the detection performance using a variety of image datasets. The experimental results show the superior detection performance of our method over the state-of-the-arts.

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