Jingchao Ni works at Amazon Web Services (AWS).


Hierarchical Gaussian Mixture based Task Generative Model for Robust Meta-Learning

Meta-learning enables quick adaptation of machine learning models to new tasks with limited data. While tasks could come from varying distributions in reality, most of the existing meta-learning methods consider both training and testing tasks as from the same uni-component distribution, overlooking two critical needs of a practical solution: (1) the various sources of tasks may compose a multi-component mixture distribution, and (2) novel tasks may come from a distribution that is unseen during meta-training. In this paper, we demonstrate these two challenges can be solved jointly by modeling the density of task instances. We develop a meta training framework underlain by a novel Hierarchical Gaussian Mixture based Task Generative Model (HTGM). HTGM extends the widely used empirical process of sampling tasks to a theoretical model, which learns task embeddings, fits the mixture distribution of tasks, and enables density-based scoring of novel tasks. The framework is agnostic to the encoder and scales well with large backbone networks. The model parameters are learned end-to-end by maximum likelihood estimation via an Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm. Extensive experiments on benchmark datasets indicate the effectiveness of our method for both sample classification and novel task detection.

Interdependent Causal Networks for Root Cause Localization

The goal of root cause analysis is to identify the underlying causes of system problems by discovering and analyzing the causal structure from system monitoring data. It is indispensable for maintaining the stability and robustness of large-scale complex systems. Existing methods mainly focus on the construction of a single effective isolated causal network, whereas many real-world systems are complex and exhibit interdependent structures (i.e., multiple networks of a system are interconnected by cross-network links). In interdependent networks, the malfunctioning effects of problematic system entities can propagate to other networks or different levels of system entities. Consequently, ignoring the interdependency results in suboptimal root cause analysis outcomes.In this paper, we propose REASON, a novel framework that enables the automatic discovery of both intra-level (i.e., within-network) and inter-level (i.e., across-network) causal relationships for root cause localization. REASON consists of Topological Causal Discovery (TCD) and Individual Causal Discovery (ICD). The TCD component aims to model the fault propagation in order to trace back to the root causes. To achieve this, we propose novel hierarchical graph neural networks to construct interdependent causal networks by modeling both intra-level and inter-level non-linear causal relations. Based on the learned interdependent causal networks, we then leverage random walk with restarts to model the network propagation of a system fault. The ICD component focuses on capturing abrupt change patterns of a single system entity. This component examines the temporal patterns of each entity’s metric data (i.e., time series), and estimates its likelihood of being a root cause based on the Extreme Value theory. Combining the topological and individual causal scores, the top K system entities are identified as root causes. Extensive experiments on three real-world datasets validate the effectiveness of the proposed framework.

Time Series Contrastive Learning with Information-Aware Augmentations

Various contrastive learning approaches have been proposed in recent years and have achieved significant empirical success. While effective and prevalent, contrastive learning has been less explored for time series data. A key component of contrastive learning is to select appropriate augmentations, imposing some priors to construct feasible positive samples, such that an encoder can be trained to learn robust and discriminative representations. Unlike image and language domains where “desired” augmented samples can be generated with the rule of thumb guided by prefabricated human priors, the ad-hoc manual selection of time series augmentations is hindered by their diverse and human-unrecognizable temporal structures. How to find the desired augmentations of time series data that are meaningful for given contrastive learning tasks and datasets remains an open question. In this work, we address the problem by encouraging both high fidelity and variety based on information theory. A theoretical analysis leads to the criteria for selecting feasible data augmentations. On top of that, we propose a new contrastive learning approach with information-aware augmentations, InfoTS, that adaptively selects optimal augmentations for time series representation learning. Experiments on various datasets show highly competitive performance with up to a 12.0% reduction in MSE on forecasting tasks and up to 3.7% relative improvement in accuracy on classification tasks over the leading baselines.

Towards Robust Graph Neural Networks via Adversarial Contrastive Learning

Graph Neural Network (GNN), as a powerful representation learning model on graph data, attracts much attention across various disciplines. However, recent studies show that GNN is vulnerable to adversarial attacks. How to make GNN more robust? What are the key vulnerabilities in GNN? How to address the vulnerabilities and defend GNN against the adversarial attacks? Adversarial training has shown to be effective in improving the robustness of traditional Deep Neural Networks (DNNs). However, existing adversarial training works mainly focus on the image data, which consists of continuous features, while the features and structures of graph data are often discrete. Moreover, rather than assuming each sample is independent and identically distributed as in DNN, GNN leverages the contextual information across the graph (e.g., neighborhoods of a node). Thus, existing adversarial training techniques cannot be directly applied to defend GNN. In this paper, we propose ContrastNet, an effective adversarial defense framework for GNN. In particular, we propose an adversarial contrastive learning method to train the GNN over the adversarial space. To further improve the robustness of GNN, we investigate the latent vulnerabilities in every component of a GNN encoder and propose corresponding refining strategies. Extensive experiments on three public datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of ContrastNet in improving the robustness of popular GNN variants, such as Graph Convolutional Network and GraphSage, under various types of adversarial attacks.

Personalized Federated Learning via Heterogeneous Modular Networks

Personalized Federated Learning (PFL) which collaboratively trains a federated model while considering local clients under privacy constraints has attracted much attention. Despite its popularity, it has been observed that existing PFL approaches result in sub-optimal solutions when the joint distribution among local clients diverges. To address this issue, we present Federated Modular Network (FedMN), a novel PFL approach that adaptively selects sub-modules from a module pool to assemble heterogeneous neural architectures for different clients. FedMN adopts a light-weighted routing hypernetwork to model the joint distribution on each client and produce the personalized selection of the module blocks for each client. To reduce the communication burden in existing FL, we develop an efficient way to interact between the clients and the server. We conduct extensive experiments on the real-world test beds and the results show both effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed FedMN over the baselines.

Towards Learning Disentangled Representations for Time Series

Promising progress has been made toward learning efficient time series representations in recent years, but the learned representations often lack interpretability and do not encode semantic meanings by the complex interactions of many latent factors. Learning representations that disentangle these latent factors can bring semantic-rich representations of time series and further enhance interpretability. However, directly adopting the sequential models, such as Long Short-Term Memory Variational AutoEncoder (LSTM-VAE), would encounter a Kullback?Leibler (KL) vanishing problem: the LSTM decoder often generates sequential data without efficiently using latent representations, and the latent spaces sometimes could even be independent of the observation space. And traditional disentanglement methods may intensify the trend of KL vanishing along with the disentanglement process, because they tend to penalize the mutual information between the latent space and the observations. In this paper, we propose Disentangle Time-Series, a novel disentanglement enhancement framework for time series data. Our framework achieves multi-level disentanglement by covering both individual latent factors and group semantic segments. We propose augmenting the original VAE objective by decomposing the evidence lower-bound and extracting evidence linking factorial representations to disentanglement. Additionally, we introduce a mutual information maximization term between the observation space to the latent space to alleviate the KL vanishing problem while preserving the disentanglement property. Experimental results on five real-world IoT datasets demonstrate that the representations learned by DTS achieve superior performance in various tasks with better interpretability.

Superclass-Conditional Gaussian Mixture Model for Coarse-To-Fine Few-Shot Learning

Learning fine-grained embeddings is essential for extending the generalizability of models pre-trained on “coarse” labels (e.g., animals). It is crucial to fields for which fine-grained labeling (e.g., breeds of animals) is expensive, but fine-grained prediction is desirable, such as medicine. The dilemma necessitates adaptation of a “coarsely” pre-trained model to new tasks with a few “finer-grained” training labels. However, coarsely supervised pre-training tends to suppress intra-class variation, which is vital for cross-granularity adaptation. In this paper, we develop a training framework underlain by a novel superclass-conditional Gaussian mixture model (SCGM). SCGM imitates the generative process of samples from hierarchies of classes through latent variable modeling of the fine-grained subclasses. The framework is agnostic to the encoders and only adds a few distribution related parameters, thus is efficient, and flexible to different domains. The model parameters are learned end-to-end by maximum-likelihood estimation via a principled Expectation-Maximization algorithm. Extensive experiments on benchmark datasets and a real-life medical dataset indicate the effectiveness of our method.

Zero-Shot Cross-Lingual Machine Reading Comprehension via Inter-Sentence Dependency Graph

We target the task of cross-lingual Machine Reading Comprehension (MRC) in the direct zero-shot setting, by incorporating syntactic features from Universal Dependencies (UD), and the key features we use are the syntactic relations within each sentence. While previous work has demonstrated effective syntax-guided MRC models, we propose to adopt the inter-sentence syntactic relations, in addition to the rudimentary intra-sentence relations, to further utilize the syntactic dependencies in the multi-sentence input of the MRC task. In our approach, we build the Inter-Sentence Dependency Graph (ISDG) connecting dependency trees to form global syntactic relations across sentences. We then propose the ISDG encoder that encodes the global dependency graph, addressing the inter-sentence relations via both one-hop and multi-hop dependency paths explicitly. Experiments on three multilingual MRC datasets (XQuAD, MLQA, TyDiQA-GoldP) show that our encoder that is only trained on English is able to improve the zero-shot performance on all 14 test sets covering 8 languages, with up to 3.8 F1 / 5.2 EM improvement on-average, and 5.2 F1 / 11.2 EM on certain languages. Further analysis shows the improvement can be attributed to the attention on the cross-linguistically consistent syntactic path. Our code is available at https://github.com/lxucs/multilingual-mrc-isdg.

Interpreting Convolutional Sequence Model by Learning Local Prototypes with Adaptation Regularization

In many high-stakes applications of machine learning models, outputting only predictions or providing statistical confidence is usually insufficient to gain trust from end users, who often prefer a transparent reasoning paradigm. Despite the recent encouraging developments on deep networks for sequential data modeling, due to the highly recursive functions, the underlying rationales of their predictions are difficult to explain. Thus, in this paper, we aim to develop a sequence modeling approach that explains its own predictions by breaking input sequences down into evidencing segments (i.e., sub-sequences) in its reasoning. To this end, we build our model upon convolutional neural networks, which, in their vanilla forms, associates local receptive fields with outputs in an obscure manner. To unveil it, we resort to case-based reasoning, and design prototype modules whose units (i.e., prototypes) resemble exemplar segments in the problem domain. Each prediction is obtained by combining the comparisons between the prototypes and the segments of an input. To enhance interpretability, we propose a training objective that delicately adapts the distribution of prototypes to the data distribution in latent spaces, and design an algorithm to map prototypes to human-understandable segments. Through extensive experiments in a variety of domains, we demonstrate that our model can achieve high interpretability generally, together with a competitive accuracy to the state-of-the-art approaches.

Structural Temporal Graph Neural Networks for Anomaly Detection in Dynamic Graphs

Detecting anomalies in dynamic graphs is a vital task, with numerous practical applications in areas such as security, finance, and social media. Existing network embedding based methods have mostly focused on learning good node representations, whereas largely ignoring the subgraph structural changes related to the target nodes in a given time window. In this paper, we propose StrGNN, an end-to-end structural temporal Graph Neural Network model for detecting anomalous edges in dynamic graphs. In particular, we first extract the h-hop enclosing subgraph centered on the target edge and propose a node labeling function to identify the role of each node in the subgraph. Then, we leverage the graph convolution operation and Sortpooling layer to extract the fixed-size feature from each snapshot/timestamp. Based on the extracted features, we utilize the Gated Recurrent Units to capture the temporal information for anomaly detection. We fully implement StrGNN and deploy it into a real enterprise security system, and it greatly helps detect advanced threats and optimize the incident response. Extensive experiments on six benchmark datasets also demonstrate the effectiveness of StrGNN.