**Canonical Space**

In this paper, we present some theoretical work to explain why simple gradient descent methods are so successful in solving non-convex optimization problems in learning large-scale neural networks (NN). After introducing a mathematical tool called canonical space, we have proved that the objective functions in learning NNs are convex in the canonical model space. We further elucidate that the gradients between the original NN model space and the canonical space are related by a pointwise linear transformation, which is represented by the so-called disparity matrix. Furthermore, we have proved that gradient descent methods surely converge to a global minimum of zero loss provided that the disparity matrices maintain full rank. If this full-rank condition holds, the learning of NNs behaves in the same way as normal convex optimization. At last, we have shown that the chance to have singular disparity matrices is extremely slim in large NNs. In particular, when over-parameterized NNs are randomly initialized, the gradient decent algorithms converge to a global minimum of zero loss in probability. … **Attention-based Adversarial Autoencoder Network Embedding (AAANE)**

Network embedding represents nodes in a continuous vector space and preserves structure information from the Network. Existing methods usually adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when concerning multi-scale structure information, such as first- and second-order proximity of nodes, ignoring the fact that different scales play different roles in the embedding learning. In this paper, we propose an Attention-based Adversarial Autoencoder Network Embedding(AAANE) framework, which promotes the collaboration of different scales and lets them vote for robust representations. The proposed AAANE consists of two components: 1) Attention-based autoencoder effectively capture the highly non-linear network structure, which can de-emphasize irrelevant scales during training. 2) An adversarial regularization guides the autoencoder learn robust representations by matching the posterior distribution of the latent embeddings to given prior distribution. This is the first attempt to introduce attention mechanisms to multi-scale network embedding. Experimental results on real-world networks show that our learned attention parameters are different for every network and the proposed approach outperforms existing state-of-the-art approaches for network embedding. … **Cascade GAN**

We deconstruct the performance of GANs into three components: 1. Formulation: we propose a perturbation view of the population target of GANs. Building on this interpretation, we show that GANs can be viewed as a generalization of the robust statistics framework, and propose a novel GAN architecture, termed as Cascade GANs, to provably recover meaningful low-dimensional generator approximations when the real distribution is high-dimensional and corrupted by outliers. 2. Generalization: given a population target of GANs, we design a systematic principle, projection under admissible distance, to design GANs to meet the population requirement using finite samples. We implement our principle in three cases to achieve polynomial and sometimes near-optimal sample complexities: (1) learning an arbitrary generator under an arbitrary pseudonorm; (2) learning a Gaussian location family under total variation distance, where we utilize our principle provide a new proof for the optimality of Tukey median viewed as GANs; (3) learning a low-dimensional Gaussian approximation of a high-dimensional arbitrary distribution under Wasserstein distance. We demonstrate a fundamental trade-off in the approximation error and statistical error in GANs, and show how to apply our principle with empirical samples to predict how many samples are sufficient for GANs in order not to suffer from the discriminator winning problem. 3. Optimization: we demonstrate alternating gradient descent is provably not even locally stable in optimizating the GAN formulation of PCA. We diagnose the problem as the minimax duality gap being non-zero, and propose a new GAN architecture whose duality gap is zero, where the value of the game is equal to the previous minimax value (not the maximin value). We prove the new GAN architecture is globally stable in optimization under alternating gradient descent. … **Mean First Passage Time based DYNA (MFPT-DYNA)**

We propose a hybrid approach aimed at improving the sample efficiency in goal-directed reinforcement learning. We do this via a two-step mechanism where firstly, we approximate a model from Model-Free reinforcement learning. Then, we leverage this approximate model along with a notion of reachability using Mean First Passage Times to perform Model-Based reinforcement learning. Built on such a novel observation, we design two new algorithms – Mean First Passage Time based Q-Learning (MFPT-Q) and Mean First Passage Time based DYNA (MFPT-DYNA), that have been fundamentally modified from the state-of-the-art reinforcement learning techniques. Preliminary results have shown that our hybrid approaches converge with much fewer iterations than their corresponding state-of-the-art counterparts and therefore requiring much fewer samples and much fewer training trials to converge. …

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