Wenchao Yul NEC Labs America

Wenchao Yu


Data Science and System Security


Dynamic Causal Discovery in Imitation Learning

Imitation learning, which learns agent policy by mimicking expert demonstration, has shown promising results in many applications such as medical treatment regimes and self-driving vehicles. However, it remains a difficult task to interpret control policies learned by the agent. Difficulties mainly come from two aspects: 1) agents in imitation learning are usually implemented as deep neural networks, which are black-box models and lack interpretability; 2) the latent causal mechanism behind agents’ decisions may vary along the trajectory, rather than staying static throughout time steps. To increase transparency and offer better interpretability of the neural agent, we propose to expose its captured knowledge in the form of a directed acyclic causal graph, with nodes being action and state variables and edges denoting the causal relations behind predictions. Furthermore, we design this causal discovery process to be state-dependent, enabling it to model the dynamics in latent causal graphs. Concretely, we conduct causal discovery from the perspective of Granger causality and propose a self-explainable imitation learning framework, CAIL. The proposed framework is composed of three parts: a dynamic causal discovery module, a causality encoding module, and a prediction module, and is trained in an end-to-end manner. After the model is learned, we can obtain causal relations among states and action variables behind its decisions, exposing policies learned by it. Experimental results on both synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed CAIL in learning the dynamic causal graphs for understanding the decision-making of imitation learning meanwhilemaintaining high prediction accuracy.

GLAD: Content-Aware Dynamic Graphs for Log Anomaly Detection

Logs play a crucial role in system monitoring and debugging by recording valuable system information, including events and status. Although various methods have been proposed to detect anomalies in log sequences, they often overlook the significance of considering relationships among system components, such as services and users, which can be identified from log contents. Understanding these relationships is vital for identifying anomalies and their underlying causes. To address this issue, we introduce GLAD, a Graph-based Log Anomaly Detection framework designed to detect relational anomalies in system logs. GLAD incorporates log semantics, relationship patterns, and sequential patterns into a unified framework for anomaly detection. Specifically, GLAD first introduces a field extraction module that utilizes prompt-based few-shot learning to extract essential field information, such as services and users, from log contents. Then GLAD constructs dynamic log graphs for sliding windows by leveraging the log events and extracted fields. These graphs represent events and fields as nodes and their relationships as edges. Subsequently, we propose atemporal-attentive graph edge anomaly detection model for identifying anomalous relationships in the dynamic log graphs. This model employs a Graph Neural Network (GNN)-based encoder enhanced with transformers to capture structural, content, and temporal features. We evaluate our proposed method on three datasets, and the results demonstrate the effectiveness of GLAD in detecting anomalies indicated by varying relation patterns.

Skill Disentanglement for Imitation Learning from Suboptimal Demonstrations

Imitation learning has achieved great success in many sequential decision-making tasks, in which a neural agent is learned by imitating collected human demonstrations. However, existing algorithms typically require a large number of high-quality demonstrations that are difficult and expensive to collect. Usually, a trade-off between demonstration quality and quantity needs to be made. Targeting this problem, in this work we consider the imitation of sub-optimal demonstrations, with both a small clean demonstration set and a large noisy set. Some pioneering works have been proposed, but they suffer from many limitations, e.g., assuming a demonstration to be of the same optimality throughout time steps and failing to provide any interpretation w.r.t knowledge learned from the noisy set. Addressing these problems, we propose method by evaluating and imitating at the sub-demonstration level, encoding action primitives of varying quality into different skills. Concretely, SDIL consists of a high-level controller to discover skills and a skill-conditioned module to capture action-taking policies and is trained following a two-phase pipeline by first discovering skills with all demonstrations and then adapting the controller to only the clean set. A mutual-information-based regularization and a dynamic sub-demonstration optimality estimator are designed to promote disentanglement in the skill space. Extensive experiments are conducted over two gym environments and a real-world healthcare dataset to demonstrate the superiority of SDIL in learning from sub-optimal demonstrations and its improved interpretability by examining learned skills.

FedSkill: Privacy Preserved Interpretable Skill Learning via Imitation

Read FedSkill: Privacy Preserved Interpretable Skill Learning via Imitation publication. Imitation learning that replicates experts’ skills via their demonstrations has shown significant success in various decision-making tasks. However, two critical challenges still hinder the deployment of imitation learning techniques in real-world application scenarios. First, existing methods lack the intrinsic interpretability to explicitly explain the underlying rationale of the learned skill and thus making learned policy untrustworthy. Second, due to the scarcity of expert demonstrations from each end user (client), learning a policy based on different data silos is necessary but challenging in privacy-sensitive applications such as finance and healthcare. To this end, we present a privacy-preserved interpretable skill learning framework (FedSkill) that enables global policy learning to incorporate data from different sources and provides explainable interpretations to each local user without violating privacy and data sovereignty. Specifically, our proposed interpretable skill learning model can capture the varying patterns in the trajectories of expert demonstrations, and extract prototypical information as skills that provide implicit guidance for policy learning and explicit explanations in the reasoning process. Moreover, we design a novel aggregation mechanism coupled with the based skill learning model to preserve global information utilization and maintain local interpretability under the federated framework. Thoroughly experiments on three datasets and empirical studies demonstrate that our proposed FedSkill framework not only outperforms state-of-the-art imitation learning methods but also exhibits good interpretability under a federated setting. Our proposed FedSkill framework is the first attempt to bridge the gaps among federated learning, interpretable machine learning, and imitation learning.

Personalized Federated Learning under Mixture Distributions

The recent trend towards Personalized Federated Learning (PFL) has garnered significant attention as it allows for the training of models that are tailored to each client while maintaining data privacy. However, current PFL techniques primarily focus on modeling the conditional distribution heterogeneity (i.e. concept shift), which can result in suboptimal performance when the distribution of input data across clients diverges (i.e. covariate shift). Additionally, these techniques often lack the ability to adapt to unseen data, further limiting their effectiveness in real-world scenarios. To address these limitations, we propose a novel approach, FedGMM, which utilizes Gaussian mixture models (GMM) to effectively fit the input data distributions across diverse clients. The model parameters are estimated by maximum likelihood estimation utilizing a federated Expectation-Maximization algorithm, which is solved in closed form and does not assume gradient similarity. Furthermore, FedGMM possesses an additional advantage of adapting to new clients with minimal overhead, and it also enables uncertainty quantification. Empirical evaluations on synthetic and benchmark datasets demonstrate the superior performance of our method in both PFL classification and novel sample detection.

Interpretable Skill Learning for Dynamic Treatment Regimes through Imitation

Imitation learning that mimics experts’ skills from their demonstrations has shown great success in discovering dynamic treatment regimes, i.e., the optimal decision rules to treat an individual patient based on related evolving treatment and covariate history. Existing imitation learning methods, however, still lack the capability to interpret the underlying rationales of the learned policy in a faithful way. Moreover, since dynamic treatment regimes for patients often exhibit varying patterns, i.e., symptoms that transit from one to another, the flat policy learned by a vanilla imitation learning method is typically undesired. To this end, we propose an Interpretable Skill Learning (ISL) framework to resolve the aforementioned challenges for dynamic treatment regimes through imitation. The key idea is to model each segment of experts’ demonstrations with a prototype layer and integrate it with the imitation learning layer to enhance the interpretation capability. On one hand, the ISL framework is able to provide interpretable explanations by matching the prototype to exemplar segments during the inference stage, which enables doctors to perform reasoning of the learned demonstrations based on human-understandable patient symptoms and lab results. On the other hand, the obtained skill embedding consisting of prototypes serves as conditional information to the imitation learning layer, which implicitly guides the policy network to provide a more accurate demonstration when the patients’ state switches from one stage to another. Thoroughly empirical studies demonstrate that our proposed ISL technique can achieve better performance than state-of-the-art methods. Moreover, the proposed ISL framework also exhibits good interpretability which cannot be observed in existing methods.

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.

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.

SEED: Sound Event Early Detection via Evidential Uncertainty

Sound Event Early Detection (SEED) is an essential task in recognizing the acoustic environments and soundscapes. However, most of the existing methods focus on the offline sound event detection, which suffers from the over-confidence issue of early-stage event detection and usually yield unreliable results. To solve the problem, we propose a novel Polyphonic Evidential Neural Network (PENet) to model the evidential uncertainty of the class probability with Beta distribution. Specifically, we use a Beta distribution to model the distribution of class probabilities, and the evidential uncertainty enriches uncertainty representation with evidence information, which plays a central role in reliable prediction. To further improve the event detection performance, we design the backtrack inference method that utilizes both the forward and backward audio features of an ongoing event. Experiments on the DESED database show that the proposed method can simultaneously improve 13.0% and 3.8% in time delay and detection F1 score compared to the state-of-the-art methods.

Dynamic Causal Discovery in Imitation Learning

Using deep reinforcement learning (DRL) to recover expert policies via imitation has been found to be promising in a wide range of applications. However, it remains a difficult task to interpret the control policy learned by the agent. Difficulties mainly come from two aspects: 1) agents in DRL are usually implemented as deep neural networks (DNNs), which are black-box models and lack in interpretability, 2) the latent causal mechanism behind agents’ decisions may vary along the trajectory, rather than staying static throughout time steps. To address these difficulties, in this paper, we propose a self-explaining imitation framework, which can expose causal relations among states and action variables behind its decisions. Specifically, a dynamic causal discovery module is designed to extract the causal graph basing on historical trajectory and current states at each time step, and a causality encoding module is designed to model the interactions among variables with discovered causal edges. After encoding causality into variable embeddings, a prediction model conducts the imitation learning on top of obtained representations. These three components are trained end-to-end, and discovered causal edges can provide interpretations on rules captured by the agent. Comprehensive experiments are conducted on the simulation dataset to analyze its causal discovery capacity, and we further test it on a real-world medical dataset MIMIC-IV. Experimental results demonstrate its potential of providing explanations behind decisions.