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Harry Dong, Beidi Chen, Yuejie Chi

With the development of transformer-based large language models (LLMs), they have been applied to many fields due to their remarkable utility, but this comes at a considerable computational cost at deployment. Fortunately, some methods such as pruning or constructing a mixture of experts (MoE) aim at exploiting sparsity in transformer feedforward (FF) blocks to gain boosts in speed and reduction in memory requirements. However, these techniques can be very costly and inflexible in practice, as they often require training or are restricted to specific types of architectures. To address this, we introduce GRIFFIN, a novel training-free MoE that selects unique FF experts at the sequence level for efficient generation across a plethora of LLMs with different non-ReLU activation functions. This is possible due to a critical observation that many trained LLMs naturally produce highly structured FF activation patterns within a sequence, which we call flocking. Despite our method's simplicity, we show with 50% of the FF parameters, GRIFFIN maintains the original model's performance with little to no degradation on a variety of classification and generation tasks, all while improving latency (e.g. 1.25$\times$ speed-up in Llama 2 13B on an NVIDIA L40). Code is available at https://github.com/hdong920/GRIFFIN.

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Xingyu Xu, Yuejie Chi

In a great number of tasks in science and engineering, the goal is to infer an unknown image from a small number of measurements collected from a known forward model describing certain sensing or imaging modality. Due to resource constraints, this task is often extremely ill-posed, which necessitates the adoption of expressive prior information to regularize the solution space. Score-based diffusion models, due to its impressive empirical success, have emerged as an appealing candidate of an expressive prior in image reconstruction. In order to accommodate diverse tasks at once, it is of great interest to develop efficient, consistent and robust algorithms that incorporate {\em unconditional} score functions of an image prior distribution in conjunction with flexible choices of forward models. This work develops an algorithmic framework for employing score-based diffusion models as an expressive data prior in general nonlinear inverse problems. Motivated by the plug-and-play framework in the imaging community, we introduce a diffusion plug-and-play method (\textsf{DPnP}) that alternatively calls two samplers, a proximal consistency sampler based solely on the likelihood function of the forward model, and a denoising diffusion sampler based solely on the score functions of the image prior. The key insight is that denoising under white Gaussian noise can be solved {\em rigorously} via both stochastic (i.e., DDPM-type) and deterministic (i.e., DDIM-type) samplers using the unconditional score functions. We establish both asymptotic and non-asymptotic performance guarantees of \textsf{DPnP}, and provide numerical experiments to illustrate its promise in solving both linear and nonlinear image reconstruction tasks. To the best of our knowledge, \textsf{DPnP} is the first provably-robust posterior sampling method for nonlinear inverse problems using unconditional diffusion priors.

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He Wang, Laixi Shi, Yuejie Chi

In offline reinforcement learning (RL), the absence of active exploration calls for attention on the model robustness to tackle the sim-to-real gap, where the discrepancy between the simulated and deployed environments can significantly undermine the performance of the learned policy. To endow the learned policy with robustness in a sample-efficient manner in the presence of high-dimensional state-action space, this paper considers the sample complexity of distributionally robust linear Markov decision processes (MDPs) with an uncertainty set characterized by the total variation distance using offline data. We develop a pessimistic model-based algorithm and establish its sample complexity bound under minimal data coverage assumptions, which outperforms prior art by at least $\tilde{O}(d)$, where $d$ is the feature dimension. We further improve the performance guarantee of the proposed algorithm by incorporating a carefully-designed variance estimator.

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Gen Li, Yu Huang, Timofey Efimov, Yuting Wei, Yuejie Chi, Yuxin Chen

Score-based diffusion models, while achieving remarkable empirical performance, often suffer from low sampling speed, due to extensive function evaluations needed during the sampling phase. Despite a flurry of recent activities towards speeding up diffusion generative modeling in practice, theoretical underpinnings for acceleration techniques remain severely limited. In this paper, we design novel training-free algorithms to accelerate popular deterministic (i.e., DDIM) and stochastic (i.e., DDPM) samplers. Our accelerated deterministic sampler converges at a rate $O(1/{T}^2)$ with $T$ the number of steps, improving upon the $O(1/T)$ rate for the DDIM sampler; and our accelerated stochastic sampler converges at a rate $O(1/T)$, outperforming the rate $O(1/\sqrt{T})$ for the DDPM sampler. The design of our algorithms leverages insights from higher-order approximation, and shares similar intuitions as popular high-order ODE solvers like the DPM-Solver-2. Our theory accommodates $\ell_2$-accurate score estimates, and does not require log-concavity or smoothness on the target distribution.

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Yu Huang, Zixin Wen, Yuejie Chi, Yingbin Liang

Masked image modeling (MIM), which predicts randomly masked patches from unmasked ones, has emerged as a promising approach in self-supervised vision pretraining. However, the theoretical understanding of MIM is rather limited, especially with the foundational architecture of transformers. In this paper, to the best of our knowledge, we provide the first end-to-end theory of learning one-layer transformers with softmax attention in MIM self-supervised pretraining. On the conceptual side, we posit a theoretical mechanism of how transformers, pretrained with MIM, produce empirically observed local and diverse attention patterns on data distributions with spatial structures that highlight feature-position correlations. On the technical side, our end-to-end analysis of the training dynamics of softmax-based transformers accommodates both input and position embeddings simultaneously, which is developed based on a novel approach to track the interplay between the attention of feature-position and position-wise correlations.

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Hanqi Yan, Lingjing Kong, Lin Gui, Yuejie Chi, Eric Xing, Yulan He, Kun Zhang

Counterfactual generation lies at the core of various machine learning tasks, including image translation and controllable text generation. This generation process usually requires the identification of the disentangled latent representations, such as content and style, that underlie the observed data. However, it becomes more challenging when faced with a scarcity of paired data and labeling information. Existing disentangled methods crucially rely on oversimplified assumptions, such as assuming independent content and style variables, to identify the latent variables, even though such assumptions may not hold for complex data distributions. For instance, food reviews tend to involve words like tasty, whereas movie reviews commonly contain words such as thrilling for the same positive sentiment. This problem is exacerbated when data are sampled from multiple domains since the dependence between content and style may vary significantly over domains. In this work, we tackle the domain-varying dependence between the content and the style variables inherent in the counterfactual generation task. We provide identification guarantees for such latent-variable models by leveraging the relative sparsity of the influences from different latent variables. Our theoretical insights enable the development of a doMain AdapTive counTerfactual gEneration model, called (MATTE). Our theoretically grounded framework achieves state-of-the-art performance in unsupervised style transfer tasks, where neither paired data nor style labels are utilized, across four large-scale datasets. Code is available at https://github.com/hanqi-qi/Matte.git

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Harry Dong, Xinyu Yang, Zhenyu Zhang, Zhangyang Wang, Yuejie Chi, Beidi Chen

Many computational factors limit broader deployment of large language models. In this paper, we focus on a memory bottleneck imposed by the key-value (KV) cache, a computational shortcut that requires storing previous KV pairs during decoding. While existing KV cache methods approach this problem by pruning or evicting large swaths of relatively less important KV pairs to dramatically reduce the memory footprint of the cache, they can have limited success in tasks that require recollecting a majority of previous tokens. To alleviate this issue, we propose LESS, a simple integration of a (nearly free) constant sized cache with eviction-based cache methods, such that all tokens can be queried at later decoding steps. Its ability to retain information throughout time shows merit on a variety of tasks where we demonstrate LESS can help reduce the performance gap from caching everything, sometimes even matching it, all while being efficient.

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Jiin Woo, Laixi Shi, Gauri Joshi, Yuejie Chi

Offline reinforcement learning (RL), which seeks to learn an optimal policy using offline data, has garnered significant interest due to its potential in critical applications where online data collection is infeasible or expensive. This work explores the benefit of federated learning for offline RL, aiming at collaboratively leveraging offline datasets at multiple agents. Focusing on finite-horizon episodic tabular Markov decision processes (MDPs), we design FedLCB-Q, a variant of the popular model-free Q-learning algorithm tailored for federated offline RL. FedLCB-Q updates local Q-functions at agents with novel learning rate schedules and aggregates them at a central server using importance averaging and a carefully designed pessimistic penalty term. Our sample complexity analysis reveals that, with appropriately chosen parameters and synchronization schedules, FedLCB-Q achieves linear speedup in terms of the number of agents without requiring high-quality datasets at individual agents, as long as the local datasets collectively cover the state-action space visited by the optimal policy, highlighting the power of collaboration in the federated setting. In fact, the sample complexity almost matches that of the single-agent counterpart, as if all the data are stored at a central location, up to polynomial factors of the horizon length. Furthermore, FedLCB-Q is communication-efficient, where the number of communication rounds is only linear with respect to the horizon length up to logarithmic factors.

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Shicong Cen, Jincheng Mei, Hanjun Dai, Dale Schuurmans, Yuejie Chi, Bo Dai

Stochastic dominance models risk-averse preferences for decision making with uncertain outcomes, which naturally captures the intrinsic structure of the underlying uncertainty, in contrast to simply resorting to the expectations. Despite theoretically appealing, the application of stochastic dominance in machine learning has been scarce, due to the following challenges: $\textbf{i)}$, the original concept of stochastic dominance only provides a $\textit{partial order}$, therefore, is not amenable to serve as an optimality criterion; and $\textbf{ii)}$, an efficient computational recipe remains lacking due to the continuum nature of evaluating stochastic dominance.%, which barriers its application for machine learning. In this work, we make the first attempt towards establishing a general framework of learning with stochastic dominance. We first generalize the stochastic dominance concept to enable feasible comparisons between any arbitrary pair of random variables. We next develop a simple and computationally efficient approach for finding the optimal solution in terms of stochastic dominance, which can be seamlessly plugged into many learning tasks. Numerical experiments demonstrate that the proposed method achieves comparable performance as standard risk-neutral strategies and obtains better trade-offs against risk across a variety of applications including supervised learning, reinforcement learning, and portfolio optimization.

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He Wang, Yuejie Chi

In large-scale federated and decentralized learning, communication efficiency is one of the most challenging bottlenecks. While gossip communication -- where agents can exchange information with their connected neighbors -- is more cost-effective than communicating with the remote server, it often requires a greater number of communication rounds, especially for large and sparse networks. To tackle the trade-off, we examine the communication efficiency under a semi-decentralized communication protocol, in which agents can perform both agent-to-agent and agent-to-server communication in a probabilistic manner. We design a tailored communication-efficient algorithm over semi-decentralized networks, referred to as PISCO, which inherits the robustness to data heterogeneity thanks to gradient tracking and allows multiple local updates for saving communication. We establish the convergence rate of PISCO for nonconvex problems and show that PISCO enjoys a linear speedup in terms of the number of agents and local updates. Our numerical results highlight the superior communication efficiency of PISCO and its resilience to data heterogeneity and various network topologies.

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