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Melrose Roderick, Felix Berkenkamp, Fatemeh Sheikholeslami, Zico Kolter

In many real-world problems, there is a limited set of training data, but an abundance of unlabeled data. We propose a new method, Generative Posterior Networks (GPNs), that uses unlabeled data to estimate epistemic uncertainty in high-dimensional problems. A GPN is a generative model that, given a prior distribution over functions, approximates the posterior distribution directly by regularizing the network towards samples from the prior. We prove theoretically that our method indeed approximates the Bayesian posterior and show empirically that it improves epistemic uncertainty estimation and scalability over competing methods.

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Eungyeup Kim, Mingjie Sun, Aditi Raghunathan, Zico Kolter

Test-time adaptation (TTA) methods aim to improve robustness to distribution shifts by adapting models using unlabeled data from the shifted test distribution. However, there remain unresolved challenges that undermine the reliability of TTA, which include difficulties in evaluating TTA performance, miscalibration after TTA, and unreliable hyperparameter tuning for adaptation. In this work, we make a notable and surprising observation that TTAed models strongly show the agreement-on-the-line phenomenon (Baek et al., 2022) across a wide range of distribution shifts. We find such linear trends occur consistently in a wide range of models adapted with various hyperparameters, and persist in distributions where the phenomenon fails to hold in vanilla models (i.e., before adaptation). We leverage these observations to make TTA methods more reliable in three perspectives: (i) estimating OOD accuracy (without labeled data) to determine when TTA helps and when it hurts, (ii) calibrating TTAed models without label information, and (iii) reliably determining hyperparameters for TTA without any labeled validation data. Through extensive experiments, we demonstrate that various TTA methods can be precisely evaluated, both in terms of their improvements and degradations. Moreover, our proposed methods on unsupervised calibration and hyperparameters tuning for TTA achieve results close to the ones assuming access to ground-truth labels, in terms of both OOD accuracy and calibration error.

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Runtian Zhai, Bingbin Liu, Andrej Risteski, Zico Kolter, Pradeep Ravikumar

Good data augmentation is one of the key factors that lead to the empirical success of self-supervised representation learning such as contrastive learning and masked language modeling, yet theoretical understanding of its role in learning good representations remains limited. Recent work has built the connection between self-supervised learning and approximating the top eigenspace of a graph Laplacian operator. Learning a linear probe on top of such features can naturally be connected to RKHS regression. In this work, we use this insight to perform a statistical analysis of augmentation-based pretraining. We start from the isometry property, a key geometric characterization of the target function given by the augmentation. Our first main theorem provides, for an arbitrary encoder, near tight bounds for both the estimation error incurred by fitting the linear probe on top of the encoder, and the approximation error entailed by the fitness of the RKHS the encoder learns. Our second main theorem specifically addresses the case where the encoder extracts the top-d eigenspace of a Monte-Carlo approximation of the underlying kernel with the finite pretraining samples. Our analysis completely disentangles the effects of the model and the augmentation. A key ingredient in our analysis is the augmentation complexity, which we use to quantitatively compare different augmentations and analyze their impact on downstream performance on synthetic and real datasets.

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Paul Vicol, Zico Kolter, Kevin Swersky

We propose an evolution strategies-based algorithm for estimating gradients in unrolled computation graphs, called ES-Single. Similarly to the recently-proposed Persistent Evolution Strategies (PES), ES-Single is unbiased, and overcomes chaos arising from recursive function applications by smoothing the meta-loss landscape. ES-Single samples a single perturbation per particle, that is kept fixed over the course of an inner problem (e.g., perturbations are not re-sampled for each partial unroll). Compared to PES, ES-Single is simpler to implement and has lower variance: the variance of ES-Single is constant with respect to the number of truncated unrolls, removing a key barrier in applying ES to long inner problems using short truncations. We show that ES-Single is unbiased for quadratic inner problems, and demonstrate empirically that its variance can be substantially lower than that of PES. ES-Single consistently outperforms PES on a variety of tasks, including a synthetic benchmark task, hyperparameter optimization, training recurrent neural networks, and training learned optimizers.

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Mingjie Sun, Zico Kolter

Backdoor inversion, the process of finding a backdoor trigger inserted into a machine learning model, has become the pillar of many backdoor detection and defense methods. Previous works on backdoor inversion often recover the backdoor through an optimization process to flip a support set of clean images into the target class. However, it is rarely studied and understood how large this support set should be to recover a successful backdoor. In this work, we show that one can reliably recover the backdoor trigger with as few as a single image. Specifically, we propose the SmoothInv method, which first constructs a robust smoothed version of the backdoored classifier and then performs guided image synthesis towards the target class to reveal the backdoor pattern. SmoothInv requires neither an explicit modeling of the backdoor via a mask variable, nor any complex regularization schemes, which has become the standard practice in backdoor inversion methods. We perform both quantitaive and qualitative study on backdoored classifiers from previous published backdoor attacks. We demonstrate that compared to existing methods, SmoothInv is able to recover successful backdoors from single images, while maintaining high fidelity to the original backdoor. We also show how we identify the target backdoored class from the backdoored classifier. Last, we propose and analyze two countermeasures to our approach and show that SmoothInv remains robust in the face of an adaptive attacker. Our code is available at https://github.com/locuslab/smoothinv .

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Suhas Kotha, Christopher Brix, Zico Kolter, Krishnamurthy Dvijotham, Huan Zhang

Most work on the formal verification of neural networks has focused on bounding forward images of neural networks, i.e., the set of outputs of a neural network that correspond to a given set of inputs (for example, bounded perturbations of a nominal input). However, many use cases of neural network verification require solving the inverse problem, i.e, over-approximating the set of inputs that lead to certain outputs. In this work, we present the first efficient bound propagation algorithm, INVPROP, for verifying properties over the preimage of a linearly constrained output set of a neural network, which can be combined with branch-and-bound to achieve completeness. Our efficient algorithm allows multiple passes of intermediate bound refinements, which are crucial for tight inverse verification because the bounds of an intermediate layer depend on relaxations both before and after this layer. We demonstrate our algorithm on applications related to quantifying safe control regions for a dynamical system and detecting out-of-distribution inputs to a neural network. Our results show that in certain settings, we can find over-approximations that are over 2500 times tighter than prior work while being 2.5 times faster on the same hardware.

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Yiding Jiang, Evan Zheran Liu, Benjamin Eysenbach, Zico Kolter, Chelsea Finn

Identifying statistical regularities in solutions to some tasks in multi-task reinforcement learning can accelerate the learning of new tasks. Skill learning offers one way of identifying these regularities by decomposing pre-collected experiences into a sequence of skills. A popular approach to skill learning is maximizing the likelihood of the pre-collected experience with latent variable models, where the latent variables represent the skills. However, there are often many solutions that maximize the likelihood equally well, including degenerate solutions. To address this underspecification, we propose a new objective that combines the maximum likelihood objective with a penalty on the description length of the skills. This penalty incentivizes the skills to maximally extract common structures from the experiences. Empirically, our objective learns skills that solve downstream tasks in fewer samples compared to skills learned from only maximizing likelihood. Further, while most prior works in the offline multi-task setting focus on tasks with low-dimensional observations, our objective can scale to challenging tasks with high-dimensional image observations.

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Sachin Goyal, Ananya Kumar, Sankalp Garg, Zico Kolter, Aditi Raghunathan

Finetuning image-text models such as CLIP achieves state-of-the-art accuracies on a variety of benchmarks. However, recent works like WiseFT (Wortsman et al., 2021) and LP-FT (Kumar et al., 2022) have shown that even subtle differences in the finetuning process can lead to surprisingly large differences in the final performance, both for in-distribution (ID) and out-of-distribution (OOD) data. In this work, we show that a natural and simple approach of mimicking contrastive pretraining consistently outperforms alternative finetuning approaches. Specifically, we cast downstream class labels as text prompts and continue optimizing the contrastive loss between image embeddings and class-descriptive prompt embeddings (contrastive finetuning). Our method consistently outperforms baselines across 7 distribution shifts, 6 transfer learning, and 3 few-shot learning benchmarks. On WILDS-iWILDCam, our proposed approach FLYP outperforms the top of the leaderboard by $2.3\%$ ID and $2.7\%$ OOD, giving the highest reported accuracy. Averaged across 7 OOD datasets (2 WILDS and 5 ImageNet associated shifts), FLYP gives gains of $4.2\%$ OOD over standard finetuning and outperforms the current state of the art (LP-FT) by more than $1\%$ both ID and OOD. Similarly, on 3 few-shot learning benchmarks, our approach gives gains up to $4.6\%$ over standard finetuning and $4.4\%$ over the state of the art. In total, these benchmarks establish contrastive finetuning as a simple, intuitive, and state-of-the-art approach for supervised finetuning of image-text models like CLIP. Code is available at https://github.com/locuslab/FLYP.

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Cem Anil, Ashwini Pokle, Kaiqu Liang, Johannes Treutlein, Yuhuai Wu, Shaojie Bai, Zico Kolter, Roger Grosse

Designing networks capable of attaining better performance with an increased inference budget is important to facilitate generalization to harder problem instances. Recent efforts have shown promising results in this direction by making use of depth-wise recurrent networks. We show that a broad class of architectures named equilibrium models display strong upwards generalization, and find that stronger performance on harder examples (which require more iterations of inference to get correct) strongly correlates with the path independence of the system -- its tendency to converge to the same steady-state behaviour regardless of initialization, given enough computation. Experimental interventions made to promote path independence result in improved generalization on harder problem instances, while those that penalize it degrade this ability. Path independence analyses are also useful on a per-example basis: for equilibrium models that have good in-distribution performance, path independence on out-of-distribution samples strongly correlates with accuracy. Our results help explain why equilibrium models are capable of strong upwards generalization and motivates future work that harnesses path independence as a general modelling principle to facilitate scalable test-time usage.

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