Web-scale ranking systems at Meta serving billions of users is complex. Improving ranking models is essential but engineering heavy. Automated Machine Learning (AutoML) can release engineers from labor intensive work of tuning ranking models; however, it is unknown if AutoML is efficient enough to meet tight production timeline in real-world and, at the same time, bring additional improvements to the strong baselines. Moreover, to achieve higher ranking performance, there is an ever-increasing demand to scale up ranking models to even larger capacity, which imposes more challenges on the efficiency. The large scale of models and tight production schedule requires AutoML to outperform human baselines by only using a small number of model evaluation trials (around 100). We presents a sampling-based AutoML method, focusing on neural architecture search and hyperparameter optimization, addressing these challenges in Meta-scale production when building large capacity models. Our approach efficiently handles large-scale data demands. It leverages a lightweight predictor-based searcher and reinforcement learning to explore vast search spaces, significantly reducing the number of model evaluations. Through experiments in large capacity modeling for CTR and CVR applications, we show that our method achieves outstanding Return on Investment (ROI) versus human tuned baselines, with up to 0.09% Normalized Entropy (NE) loss reduction or $25\%$ Query per Second (QPS) increase by only sampling one hundred models on average from a curated search space. The proposed AutoML method has already made real-world impact where a discovered Instagram CTR model with up to -0.36% NE gain (over existing production baseline) was selected for large-scale online A/B test and show statistically significant gain. These production results proved AutoML efficacy and accelerated its adoption in ranking systems at Meta.
Neural Architecture Search (NAS) has demonstrated its efficacy in computer vision and potential for ranking systems. However, prior work focused on academic problems, which are evaluated at small scale under well-controlled fixed baselines. In industry system, such as ranking system in Meta, it is unclear whether NAS algorithms from the literature can outperform production baselines because of: (1) scale - Meta ranking systems serve billions of users, (2) strong baselines - the baselines are production models optimized by hundreds to thousands of world-class engineers for years since the rise of deep learning, (3) dynamic baselines - engineers may have established new and stronger baselines during NAS search, and (4) efficiency - the search pipeline must yield results quickly in alignment with the productionization life cycle. In this paper, we present Rankitect, a NAS software framework for ranking systems at Meta. Rankitect seeks to build brand new architectures by composing low level building blocks from scratch. Rankitect implements and improves state-of-the-art (SOTA) NAS methods for comprehensive and fair comparison under the same search space, including sampling-based NAS, one-shot NAS, and Differentiable NAS (DNAS). We evaluate Rankitect by comparing to multiple production ranking models at Meta. We find that Rankitect can discover new models from scratch achieving competitive tradeoff between Normalized Entropy loss and FLOPs. When utilizing search space designed by engineers, Rankitect can generate better models than engineers, achieving positive offline evaluation and online A/B test at Meta scale.
Search efficiency and serving efficiency are two major axes in building feature interactions and expediting the model development process in recommender systems. On large-scale benchmarks, searching for the optimal feature interaction design requires extensive cost due to the sequential workflow on the large volume of data. In addition, fusing interactions of various sources, orders, and mathematical operations introduces potential conflicts and additional redundancy toward recommender models, leading to sub-optimal trade-offs in performance and serving cost. In this paper, we present DistDNAS as a neat solution to brew swift and efficient feature interaction design. DistDNAS proposes a supernet to incorporate interaction modules of varying orders and types as a search space. To optimize search efficiency, DistDNAS distributes the search and aggregates the choice of optimal interaction modules on varying data dates, achieving over 25x speed-up and reducing search cost from 2 days to 2 hours. To optimize serving efficiency, DistDNAS introduces a differentiable cost-aware loss to penalize the selection of redundant interaction modules, enhancing the efficiency of discovered feature interactions in serving. We extensively evaluate the best models crafted by DistDNAS on a 1TB Criteo Terabyte dataset. Experimental evaluations demonstrate 0.001 AUC improvement and 60% FLOPs saving over current state-of-the-art CTR models.
Recent deep learning-based optical flow estimators have exhibited impressive performance in generating local flows between consecutive frames. However, the estimation of long-range flows between distant frames, particularly under complex object deformation and large motion occlusion, remains a challenging task. One promising solution is to accumulate local flows explicitly or implicitly to obtain the desired long-range flow. Nevertheless, the accumulation errors and flow misalignment can hinder the effectiveness of this approach. This paper proposes a novel recurrent framework called AccFlow, which recursively backward accumulates local flows using a deformable module called as AccPlus. In addition, an adaptive blending module is designed along with AccPlus to alleviate the occlusion effect by backward accumulation and rectify the accumulation error. Notably, we demonstrate the superiority of backward accumulation over conventional forward accumulation, which to the best of our knowledge has not been explicitly established before. To train and evaluate the proposed AccFlow, we have constructed a large-scale high-quality dataset named CVO, which provides ground-truth optical flow labels between adjacent and distant frames. Extensive experiments validate the effectiveness of AccFlow in handling long-range optical flow estimation. Codes are available at https://github.com/mulns/AccFlow .
Dividing ads ranking system into retrieval, early, and final stages is a common practice in large scale ads recommendation to balance the efficiency and accuracy. The early stage ranking often uses efficient models to generate candidates out of a set of retrieved ads. The candidates are then fed into a more computationally intensive but accurate final stage ranking system to produce the final ads recommendation. As the early and final stage ranking use different features and model architectures because of system constraints, a serious ranking consistency issue arises where the early stage has a low ads recall, i.e., top ads in the final stage are ranked low in the early stage. In order to pass better ads from the early to the final stage ranking, we propose a multi-task learning framework for early stage ranking to capture multiple final stage ranking components (i.e. ads clicks and ads quality events) and their task relations. With our multi-task learning framework, we can not only achieve serving cost saving from the model consolidation, but also improve the ads recall and ranking consistency. In the online A/B testing, our framework achieves significantly higher click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate (CVR), total value and better ads-quality (e.g. reduced ads cross-out rate) in a large scale industrial ads ranking system.
The ability to automatically detect and track surgical instruments in endoscopic videos can enable transformational interventions. Assessing surgical performance and efficiency, identifying skilled tool use and choreography, and planning operational and logistical aspects of OR resources are just a few of the applications that could benefit. Unfortunately, obtaining the annotations needed to train machine learning models to identify and localize surgical tools is a difficult task. Annotating bounding boxes frame-by-frame is tedious and time-consuming, yet large amounts of data with a wide variety of surgical tools and surgeries must be captured for robust training. Moreover, ongoing annotator training is needed to stay up to date with surgical instrument innovation. In robotic-assisted surgery, however, potentially informative data like timestamps of instrument installation and removal can be programmatically harvested. The ability to rely on tool installation data alone would significantly reduce the workload to train robust tool-tracking models. With this motivation in mind we invited the surgical data science community to participate in the challenge, SurgToolLoc 2022. The goal was to leverage tool presence data as weak labels for machine learning models trained to detect tools and localize them in video frames with bounding boxes. We present the results of this challenge along with many of the team's efforts. We conclude by discussing these results in the broader context of machine learning and surgical data science. The training data used for this challenge consisting of 24,695 video clips with tool presence labels is also being released publicly and can be accessed at https://console.cloud.google.com/storage/browser/isi-surgtoolloc-2022.
Multi-task learning (MTL) aims at enhancing the performance and efficiency of machine learning models by training them on multiple tasks simultaneously. However, MTL research faces two challenges: 1) modeling the relationships between tasks to effectively share knowledge between them, and 2) jointly learning task-specific and shared knowledge. In this paper, we present a novel model Adaptive Task-to-Task Fusion Network (AdaTT) to address both challenges. AdaTT is a deep fusion network built with task specific and optional shared fusion units at multiple levels. By leveraging a residual mechanism and gating mechanism for task-to-task fusion, these units adaptively learn shared knowledge and task specific knowledge. To evaluate the performance of AdaTT, we conduct experiments on a public benchmark and an industrial recommendation dataset using various task groups. Results demonstrate AdaTT can significantly outperform existing state-of-the-art baselines.
Endoscopic video recordings are widely used in minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery, but when the endoscope is outside the patient's body, it can capture irrelevant segments that may contain sensitive information. To address this, we propose a framework that accurately detects out-of-body frames in surgical videos by leveraging self-supervision with minimal data labels. We use a massive amount of unlabeled endoscopic images to learn meaningful representations in a self-supervised manner. Our approach, which involves pre-training on an auxiliary task and fine-tuning with limited supervision, outperforms previous methods for detecting out-of-body frames in surgical videos captured from da Vinci X and Xi surgical systems. The average F1 scores range from 96.00 to 98.02. Remarkably, using only 5% of the training labels, our approach still maintains an average F1 score performance above 97, outperforming fully-supervised methods with 95% fewer labels. These results demonstrate the potential of our framework to facilitate the safe handling of surgical video recordings and enhance data privacy protection in minimally invasive surgery.
We revisit the domain of off-policy policy optimization in RL from the perspective of coordinate ascent. One commonly-used approach is to leverage the off-policy policy gradient to optimize a surrogate objective -- the total discounted in expectation return of the target policy with respect to the state distribution of the behavior policy. However, this approach has been shown to suffer from the distribution mismatch issue, and therefore significant efforts are needed for correcting this mismatch either via state distribution correction or a counterfactual method. In this paper, we rethink off-policy learning via Coordinate Ascent Policy Optimization (CAPO), an off-policy actor-critic algorithm that decouples policy improvement from the state distribution of the behavior policy without using the policy gradient. This design obviates the need for distribution correction or importance sampling in the policy improvement step of off-policy policy gradient. We establish the global convergence of CAPO with general coordinate selection and then further quantify the convergence rates of several instances of CAPO with popular coordinate selection rules, including the cyclic and the randomized variants of CAPO. We then extend CAPO to neural policies for a more practical implementation. Through experiments, we demonstrate that CAPO provides a competitive approach to RL in practice.
Timely and effective feedback within surgical training plays a critical role in developing the skills required to perform safe and efficient surgery. Feedback from expert surgeons, while especially valuable in this regard, is challenging to acquire due to their typically busy schedules, and may be subject to biases. Formal assessment procedures like OSATS and GEARS attempt to provide objective measures of skill, but remain time-consuming. With advances in machine learning there is an opportunity for fast and objective automated feedback on technical skills. The SimSurgSkill 2021 challenge (hosted as a sub-challenge of EndoVis at MICCAI 2021) aimed to promote and foster work in this endeavor. Using virtual reality (VR) surgical tasks, competitors were tasked with localizing instruments and predicting surgical skill. Here we summarize the winning approaches and how they performed. Using this publicly available dataset and results as a springboard, future work may enable more efficient training of surgeons with advances in surgical data science. The dataset can be accessed from https://console.cloud.google.com/storage/browser/isi-simsurgskill-2021.