Congratulations to the #AAAI2023 best paper winners

11 February 2023

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winners' medal

The AAAI 2023 best paper awards were presented at the conference on Saturday 11 February. The awards comprised one outstanding paper, one outstanding student paper, and 12 distinguished papers.

AAAI-23 outstanding paper

The AAAI outstanding paper award is given to a paper (or papers) that “exemplifies the highest standards in technical contribution and exposition”. This year, the award goes to:

Misspecification in Inverse Reinforcement Learning
Joar Skalse, Alessandro Abate

Abstract: The aim of Inverse Reinforcement Learning (IRL) is to infer a reward function R from a policy pi. To do this, we need a model of how pi relates to R. In the current literature, the most common models are optimality, Boltzmann rationality, and causal entropy maximisation. One of the primary motivations behind IRL is to infer human preferences from human behaviour. However, the true relationship between human preferences and human behaviour is much more complex than any of the models currently used in IRL. This means that they are misspecified, which raises the worry that they might lead to unsound inferences if applied to real-world data. In this paper, we provide a mathematical analysis of how robust different IRL models are to misspecification, and answer precisely how the demonstrator policy may differ from each of the standard models before that model leads to faulty inferences about the reward function R. We also introduce a framework for reasoning about misspecification in IRL, together with formal tools that can be used to easily derive the misspecification robustness of new IRL models.

Read the full paper on arXiv.

AAAI-23 outstanding student paper

An award to recognise an outstanding contribution from a student. The 2023 winner is:

Decorate the Newcomers: Visual Domain Prompt for Continual Test Time Adaptation
Yulu Gan, Yan Bai, Yihang Lou, Xianzheng Ma, Renrui Zhang, Nian Shi, Lin Luo

Abstract: Continual Test-Time Adaptation (CTTA) aims to adapt the source model to continually changing unlabeled target domains without access to the source data. Existing methods mainly focus on model-based adaptation in a self-training manner, such as predicting pseudo labels for new domain datasets. Since pseudo labels are noisy and unreliable, these methods suffer from catastrophic forgetting and error accumulation when dealing with dynamic data distributions. Motivated by the prompt learning in NLP, in this paper, we propose to learn an image-layer visual domain prompt for target domains while having the source model parameters frozen. During testing, the changing target datasets can be adapted to the source model by reformulating the input data with the learned visual prompts. Specifically, we devise two types of prompts, i.e., domains-specific prompts and domains-agnostic prompts, to extract current domain knowledge and maintain the domain-shared knowledge in the continual adaptation. Furthermore, we design a homeostasis-based adaptation strategy to suppress domain-sensitive parameters in domain-invariant prompts to learn domain-shared knowledge more effectively. This transition from the model-dependent paradigm to the model-free one enables us to bypass the catastrophic forgetting and error accumulation problems. Experiments show that our proposed method achieves significant performance gains over state-of-the-art methods on four widely-used benchmarks, including CIFAR-10C, CIFAR-100C, ImageNet-C, and VLCS datasets.

Read the full paper on arXiv.

AAAI-23 distinguished papers

The distinguished paper awards highlight work which has been chosen for special recognition. There are 12 winners this year:

DropMessage: Unifying Random Dropping for Graph Neural Networks
Taoran Fang, Zhiqing Xiao, Chunping Wang, Jiarong Xu, Xuan Yang, Yang Yang

Abstract: Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are powerful tools for graph representation learning. Despite their rapid development, GNNs also face some challenges, such as over-fitting, over-smoothing, and non-robustness. Previous works indicate that these problems can be alleviated by random dropping methods, which integrate augmented data into models by randomly masking parts of the input. However, some open problems of random dropping on GNNs remain to be solved. First, it is challenging to find a universal method that are suitable for all cases considering the divergence of different datasets and models. Second, augmented data introduced to GNNs causes the incomplete coverage of parameters and unstable training process. Third, there is no theoretical analysis on the effectiveness of random dropping methods on GNNs. In this paper, we propose a novel random dropping method called DropMessage, which performs dropping operations directly on the propagated messages during the message-passing process. More importantly, we find that DropMessage provides a unified framework for most existing random dropping methods, based on which we give theoretical analysis of their effectiveness. Furthermore, we elaborate the superiority of DropMessage: it stabilizes the training process by reducing sample variance; it keeps information diversity from the perspective of information theory, enabling it become a theoretical upper bound of other methods. To evaluate our proposed method, we conduct experiments that aims for multiple tasks on five public datasets and two industrial datasets with various backbone models. The experimental results show that DropMessage has the advantages of both effectiveness and generalization, and can significantly alleviate the problems mentioned above. A detailed version with full appendix can be found on arXiv.

Read the full paper on arXiv.

Two Heads are Better than One: Image-Point Cloud Network for Depth-Based 3D Hand Pose Estimation
Pengfei Ren, Yuchen Chen, Jiachang Hao, Haifeng Sun, Qi Qi, Jingyu Wang, Jianxin Liao

Abstract: Depth images and point clouds are the two most commonly used data representations for depth-based 3D hand pose estimation. Benefiting from the structuring of image data and the inherent inductive biases of the 2D Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), image-based methods are highly efficient and effective. However, treating the depth data as a 2D image inevitably ignores the 3D nature of depth data. Point cloud-based methods can better mine the 3D geometric structure of depth data. However, these methods suffer from the disorder and non-structure of point cloud data, which is computationally inefficient. In this paper, we propose an Image-Point cloud Network (IPNet) for accurate and robust 3D hand pose estimation. IPNet utilizes 2D CNN to extract visual representations in 2D image space and performs iterative correction in 3D point cloud space to exploit the 3D geometry information of depth data. In particular, we propose a sparse anchor-based “aggregation-interaction-propagation” paradigm to enhance point cloud features and refine the hand pose, which reduces irregular data access. Furthermore, we introduce a 3D hand model to the iterative correction process, which significantly improves the robustness of IPNet to occlusion and depth holes. Experiments show that IPNet outperforms state-of-the-art methods on three challenging hand datasets.

Neural Architecture Search for Wide Spectrum Adversarial Robustness
Zhi Cheng, Yanxi Li, Minjing Dong, Xiu Su, Shan You, Chang Xu

Abstract: One major limitation of CNNs is that they are vulnerable to adversarial attacks. Currently, adversarial robustness in neural networks is commonly optimized with respect to a small pre-selected adversarial noise strength, causing them to have potentially limited performance when under attack by larger adversarial noises in real-world scenarios. In this research, we aim to find Neural Architectures that have improved robustness on a wide range of adversarial noise strengths through Neural Architecture Search. In detail, we propose a lightweight Adversarial Noise Estimator to reduce the high cost of generating adversarial noise with respect to different strengths. Besides, we construct an Efficient Wide Spectrum Searcher to reduce the cost of adjusting network architecture with the large adversarial validation set during the search. With the two components proposed, the number of adversarial noise strengths searched can be increased significantly while having a limited increase in search time. Extensive experiments on benchmark datasets such as CIFAR and ImageNet demonstrate that with a significantly richer search signal in robustness, our method can find architectures with improved overall robustness while having a limited impact on natural accuracy and around 40% reduction in search time compared with the naive approach of searching. Codes available here.

CowClip: Reducing CTR Prediction Model Training Time from 12 hours to 10 minutes on 1 GPU
Zangwei Zheng, Pengtai Xu, Xuan Zou, Da Tang, Zhen Li, Chenguang Xi, Peng Wu, Leqi Zou, Yijie Zhu, Ming Chen, Xiangzhuo Ding, Fuzhao Xue, Ziheng Qin, Youlong Cheng, Yang You

Abstract: The click-through rate (CTR) prediction task is to predict whether a user will click on the recommended item. As mind-boggling amounts of data are produced online daily, accelerating CTR prediction model training is critical to ensuring an up-to-date model and reducing the training cost. One approach to increase the training speed is to apply large batch training. However, as shown in computer vision and natural language processing tasks, training with a large batch easily suffers from the loss of accuracy. Our experiments show that previous scaling rules fail in the training of CTR prediction neural networks. To tackle this problem, we first theoretically show that different frequencies of ids make it challenging to scale hyperparameters when scaling the batch size. To stabilize the training process in a large batch size setting, we develop the adaptive Column-wise Clipping (CowClip). It enables an easy and effective scaling rule for the embeddings, which keeps the learning rate unchanged and scales the L2 loss. We conduct extensive experiments with four CTR prediction networks on two real-world datasets and successfully scaled 128 times the original batch size without accuracy loss. In particular, for CTR prediction model DeepFM training on the Criteo dataset, our optimization framework enlarges the batch size from 1K to 128K with over 0.1% AUC improvement and reduces training time from 12 hours to 10 minutes on a single V100 GPU. Our code locates here.

Read the full paper on arXiv.

DICNet: Deep Instance-Level Contrastive Network for Double Incomplete Multi-View MultiLabel Classification
Chengliang Liu, Jie Wen, Xiaoling Luo, Chao Huang, Zhihao Wu, Yong Xu

Abstract: In recent years, multi-view multi-label learning has aroused extensive research enthusiasm. However, multi-view multi-label data in the real world is commonly incomplete due to the uncertain factors of data collection and manual annotation, which means that not only multi-view features are often missing, and label completeness is also difficult to be satisfied. To deal with the double incomplete multi-view multi-label classification problem, we propose a deep instance-level contrastive network, namely DICNet. Different from conventional methods, our DICNet focuses on leveraging deep neural network to exploit the high-level semantic representations of samples rather than shallow-level features. First, we utilize the stacked autoencoders to build an end-to-end multi-view feature extraction framework to learn the view-specific representations of samples. Furthermore, in order to improve the consensus representation ability, we introduce an incomplete instance-level contrastive learning scheme to guide the encoders to better extract the consensus information of multiple views and use a multi-view weighted fusion module to enhance the discrimination of semantic features. Overall, our DICNet is adept in capturing consistent discriminative representations of multi-view multi-label data and avoiding the negative effects of missing views and missing labels. Extensive experiments performed on five datasets validate that our method outperforms other state-of-the-art methods.

Exploring Tuning Characteristics of Ventral Stream’s Neurons for Few-Shot Image

Lintao Dong, Wei Zhai Zheng-Jun Zha

Abstract: Human has the remarkable ability of learning novel objects by browsing extremely few examples, which may be attributed to the generic and robust feature extracted in the ventral stream of our brain for representing visual objects. In this sense, the tuning characteristics of ventral stream’s neurons can be useful prior knowledge to improve few-shot classification. Specifically, we computationally model two groups of neurons found in ventral stream which are respectively sensitive to shape cues and color cues. Then we propose the hierarchical feature regularization method with these neuron models to regularize the backbone of a few-shot model, thus making it producing more generic and robust features for few-shot classification. In addition, to simulate the tuning characteristic that neuron firing at a higher rate in response to foreground stimulus elements compared to background elements, which we call belongingness, we design a foreground segmentation algorithm based on the observation that the foreground object usually does not appear at the edge of the picture, then multiply the foreground mask with the backbone of few-shot model. Our method is model-agnostic and can be applied to few-shot models with different backbones, training paradigms and classifiers.

MaskBooster: End-to-End Self-Training for Sparsely Supervised Instance Segmentation
Shida Zheng, Chenshu Chen, Xi Yang, Wenming Tan

Abstract: The present paper introduces sparsely supervised instance segmentation, with the datasets being fully annotated bounding boxes and sparsely annotated masks. A direct solution to this task is self-training, which is not fully explored for instance segmentation yet. In this paper, we propose MaskBooster for sparsely supervised instance segmentation (SpSIS) with comprehensive usage of pseudo masks. MaskBooster is featured with (1) dynamic and progressive pseudo masks from an online updating teacher model, (2) refining binary pseudo masks with the help of bounding box prior, (3) learning inter-class prediction distribution via knowledge distillation for soft pseudo masks. As an end-to-end and universal self-training framework, MaskBooster can empower fully supervised algorithms and boost their segmentation performance on SpSIS. Abundant experiments are conducted on COCO and BDD100K datasets and validate the effectiveness of MaskBooster. Specifically, on COCO 0.1\%/1\%/10\% protocols and BDD100K, we surpass sparsely supervised baseline by a large margin for both Mask RCNN and ShapeProp. MaskBooster on SpSIS also outperforms weakly and semi-supervised instance segmentation state-of-the-art on the datasets with similar annotation budgets.

SimFair: A Unified Framework for Fairness-Aware Multi-Label Classification
Tianci Liu, Haoyu Wang, Yaqing Wang, Xiaoqian Wang, Lu Su, Jing Gao

Abstract: Recent years have witnessed increasing concerns towards unfair decisions made by machine learning algorithms. To improve fairness in model decisions, various fairness notions have been proposed and many fairness-aware methods are developed. However, most of existing definitions and methods focus only on single-label classification. Fairness for multi-label classification, where each instance is associated with more than one labels, is still yet to establish. To fill this gap, we study fairness-aware multi-label classification in this paper. We start by extending Demographic Parity (DP) and Equalized Opportunity (EOp), two popular fairness notions, to multi-label classification scenarios. Through a systematic study, we show that on multi-label data, because of unevenly distributed labels, EOp usually fails to construct a reliable estimate on labels with few instances. We then propose a new framework named Similarity s-induced Fairness (sγ -SimFair). This new framework utilizes data that have similar labels when estimating fairness on a particular label group for better stability, and can unify DP and EOp. Theoretical analysis and experimental results on real-world datasets together demonstrate the advantage of sγ -SimFair over existing methods on multi-label classification tasks.

XRand: Differentially Private Defense against Explanation-Guided Attacks
Truc Nguyen, Phung Lai, Hai Phan, My T. Thai

Abstract: Recent development in the field of explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) has helped improve trust in Machine-Learning-as-a-Service (MLaaS) systems, in which an explanation is provided together with the model prediction in response to each query. However, XAI also opens a door for adversaries to gain insights into the black-box models in MLaaS, thereby making the models more vulnerable to several attacks. For example, feature-based explanations (e.g., SHAP) could expose the top important features that a black-box model focuses on. Such disclosure has been exploited to craft effective backdoor triggers against malware classifiers. To address this trade-off, we introduce a new concept of achieving local differential privacy (LDP) in the explanations, and from that we establish a defense, called XRand, against such attacks. We show that our mechanism restricts the information that the adversary can learn about the top important features, while maintaining the faithfulness of the explanations.

Read the full paper on arXiv.

Clustering What Matters: Optimal Approximation for Clustering with Outliers
Akanksha Agrawal, Tanmay Inamdar, Saket Saurabh, Jie Xue

Abstract: Clustering with outliers is one of the most fundamental problems in Computer Science. Given a set X of n points and two numbers k,m, the clustering with outliers aims to exclude m points from X and partition the remaining points into k clusters that minimizes a certain cost function. In this paper, we give a general approach for solving clustering with outliers, which results in a fixed-parameter tractable (FPT) algorithm in k and m, that almost matches the approximation ratio for its outlier-free counterpart. As a corollary, we obtain FPT approximation algorithms with optimal approximation ratios for k-MEDIAN and k-MEANS with outliers in general and Euclidean metrics. We also exhibit more applications of our approach to other variants of the problem that impose additional constraints on the clustering, such as fairness or matroid constraints.

Read the full paper on arXiv.

Robust Average-Reward Markov Decision Processes
Yue Wang, Alvaro Velasquez, George Atia, Ashley Prater-Bennette, Shaofeng Zou

Abstract: In robust Markov decision processes (MDPs), the uncertainty in the transition kernel is addressed by finding a policy that optimizes the worst-case performance over an uncertainty set of MDPs. While much of the literature has focused on discounted MDPs, robust average-reward MDPs remain largely unexplored. In this paper, we focus on robust average-reward MDPs, where the goal is to find a policy that optimizes the worst-case average reward over an uncertainty set. We first take an approach that approximates average-reward MDPs using discounted MDPs. We prove that the robust discounted value function converges to the robust average-reward as the discount factor \gamma goes to 1, and moreover, when \gamma is large, any optimal policy of the robust discounted MDP is also an optimal policy of the robust average-reward. We further design a robust dynamic programming approach, and theoretically characterize its convergence to the optimum. Then, we investigate robust average-reward MDPs directly without using discounted MDPs as an intermediate step. We derive the robust Bellman equation for robust average-reward MDPs, prove that the optimal policy can be derived from its solution, and further design a robust relative value iteration algorithm that provably find its solution, or equivalently, the optimal robust policy.

Read the full paper on arXiv.

Efficient Answer Enumeration in Description Logics with Functional Roles
Carsten Lutz, Marcin Przybylko

Abstract: We study the enumeration of answers to ontology-mediated queries when the ontology is formulated in a description logic that supports functional roles and the query is a CQ. In particular, we show that enumeration is possible with linear preprocessing and constant delay when a certain extension of the CQ (pertaining to functional roles) is acyclic and free-connex acyclic. This holds both for complete answers and for partial answers. We provide matching lower bounds for the case where the query is self-join free.

Read an extended version of this paper on arXiv.

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Lucy Smith , Managing Editor for AIhub.
Lucy Smith , Managing Editor for AIhub.

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