Paper: From Observability to Significance in Distributed Information Systems

To understand and explain process behaviour we need to be able to see it, and decide its significance, i.e. be able to tell a story about its behaviours. This paper describes a few of the modelling challenges that underlie monitoring and observation of processes in IT, by human or by software. The topic of the observability of systems has been elevated recently in connection with computer monitoring and tracing of processes for debugging and forensics. It raises the issue of well-known principles of measurement, in bounded contexts, but these issues have been left implicit in the Computer Science literature. This paper aims to remedy this omission, by laying out a simple promise theoretic model, summarizing a long standing trail of work on the observation of distributed systems, based on elementary distinguishability of observations, and classical causality, with history. Three distinct views of a system are sought, across a number of scales, that described how information is transmitted (and lost) as it moves around the system, aggregated into journals and logs.

Paper: Environment Reconstruction with Hidden Confounders for Reinforcement Learning based Recommendation

Reinforcement learning aims at searching the best policy model for decision making, and has been shown powerful for sequential recommendations. The training of the policy by reinforcement learning, however, is placed in an environment. In many real-world applications, however, the policy training in the real environment can cause an unbearable cost, due to the exploration in the environment. Environment reconstruction from the past data is thus an appealing way to release the power of reinforcement learning in these applications. The reconstruction of the environment is, basically, to extract the casual effect model from the data. However, real-world applications are often too complex to offer fully observable environment information. Therefore, quite possibly there are unobserved confounding variables lying behind the data. The hidden confounder can obstruct an effective reconstruction of the environment. In this paper, by treating the hidden confounder as a hidden policy, we propose a deconfounded multi-agent environment reconstruction (DEMER) approach in order to learn the environment together with the hidden confounder. DEMER adopts a multi-agent generative adversarial imitation learning framework. It proposes to introduce the confounder embedded policy, and use the compatible discriminator for training the policies. We then apply DEMER in an application of driver program recommendation. We firstly use an artificial driver program recommendation environment, abstracted from the real application, to verify and analyze the effectiveness of DEMER. We then test DEMER in the real application of Didi Chuxing. Experiment results show that DEMER can effectively reconstruct the hidden confounder, and thus can build the environment better. DEMER also derives a recommendation policy with a significantly improved performance in the test phase of the real application.

Paper: Saliency Maps Generation for Automatic Text Summarization

Saliency map generation techniques are at the forefront of explainable AI literature for a broad range of machine learning applications. Our goal is to question the limits of these approaches on more complex tasks. In this paper we apply Layer-Wise Relevance Propagation (LRP) to a sequence-to-sequence attention model trained on a text summarization dataset. We obtain unexpected saliency maps and discuss the rightfulness of these ‘explanations’. We argue that we need a quantitative way of testing the counterfactual case to judge the truthfulness of the saliency maps. We suggest a protocol to check the validity of the importance attributed to the input and show that the saliency maps obtained sometimes capture the real use of the input features by the network, and sometimes do not. We use this example to discuss how careful we need to be when accepting them as explanation.

Paper: Generalized Mutual Information

Mutual information is one of the essential building blocks of information theory. Yet, it is only finitely defined for distributions with fast decaying tails on a countable joint alphabet of two random elements. The unboundedness of mutual information over the general class of all distributions on a joint alphabet prevents its potential utility to be fully realized. This is in fact a void in the foundation of information theory that needs to be filled. This article proposes a family of generalized mutual information all of whose members 1) are finitely defined for each and every distribution of two random elements on a joint countable alphabet, except the one by Shannon, and 2) enjoy all utilities of a finite Shannon’s mutual information.

Paper: Representing Attitudes Towards Ambiguity in Managerial Decisions

We provide here a general mathematical framework to model attitudes towards ambiguity which uses the formalism of quantum theory as a ‘purely mathematical formalism, detached from any physical interpretation’. We show that the quantum-theoretic framework enables modelling of the ‘Ellsberg paradox’, but it also successfully applies to more concrete human decision-making (DM) tests involving financial, managerial and medical decisions. In particular, we provide a faithful mathematical representation of various empirical studies which reveal that attitudes of managers towards uncertainty shift from ‘ambiguity seeking’ to ‘ambiguity aversion’, and viceversa, thus exhibiting ‘hope effects’ and ‘fear effects’ in management decisions. The present framework provides a new bold and promising direction towards the development of a unified theory of decisions in the presence of uncertainty.