- Learning Language from Perceptual Context

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David L. Chen

December 2009. Ph.D. proposal, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Texas at Austin.Most current natural language processing (NLP) systems are built using statistical learning algorithms trained on large annotated corpora which can be expensive and time-consuming to collect. In contrast, humans can learn language through exposure to linguistic input in the context of a rich, relevant, perceptual environment. If a machine learning system can acquire language in a similar manner without explicit human supervision, then it can leverage the large amount of available text that refers to observed world states (e.g. sportscasts, instruction manuals, weather forecasts, etc.) Thus, my research focuses on how to build systems that use both text and the perceptual context in which it is used in order to learn a language. I will first present a system we completed that can describe events in RoboCup 2D simulation games by learning only from sample language commentaries paired with traces of simulated activities without any language-specific prior knowledge. By applying an EM-like algorithm, the system was able to simultaneously learn a grounded language model as well as align the ambiguous training data. Human evaluations of the generated commentaries indicate they are of reasonable quality and in some cases even on par with those produced by humans. For future work, I am proposing to solve the more complex task of learning how to give and receive navigation instructions in a virtual environment. In this setting, each instruction corresponds to a navigation plan that is not directly observable. Since an exponential number of plans can all lead to the same observed actions, we have to learn from compact representations of all valid plans rather than enumerating all possible meanings as we did in the sportscasting task. Initially, the system will passively observe a human giving instruction to another human, and try to learn the correspondences between the instructions and the intended plan. After the system has a decent understanding of the language, it can then participate in the interactions to learn more directly by playing either the role of the instructor or the follower.

ML ID: 239

- Discriminative Learning with Markov Logic Networks

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Tuyen N. Huynh

October 2009. Ph.D. proposal, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Texas at Austin.Statistical relational learning (SRL) is an emerging area of research that addresses the problem of learning from noisy structured/relational data. Markov logic networks (MLNs), sets of weighted clauses, are a simple but powerful SRL formalism that combines the expressivity of first-order logic with the flexibility of probabilistic reasoning. Most of the existing learning algorithms for MLNs are in the generative setting: they try to learn a model that maximizes the likelihood of the training data. However, most of the learning problems in relational data are discriminative. So to utilize the power of MLNs, we need discriminative learning methods that well match these discriminative tasks.

In this proposal, we present two new discriminative learning algorithms for MLNs. The first one is a discriminative structure and weight learner for MLNs with non-recursive clauses. We use a variant of Aleph, an off-the-shelf Inductive Logic Programming (ILP) system, to learn a large set of Horn clauses from the training data, then we apply an L1-regularization weight learner to select a small set of non-zero weight clauses that maximizes the conditional log-likelihood (CLL) of the training data. The experimental results show that our proposed algorithm outperforms existing learning methods for MLNs and traditional ILP systems in term of predictive accuracy, and its performance is comparable to state-of-the-art results on some ILP benchmarks. The second algorithm we present is a max-margin weight learner for MLNs. Instead of maximizing the CLL of the data like all existing discriminative weight learners for MLNs, the new weight learner tries to maximize the ratio between the probability of the correct label (the observable data) and and the closest incorrect label (among all the wrong labels, this one has the highest probability), which can be formulated as an optimization problem called 1-slack structural SVM. This optimization problem can be solved by an efficient algorithm based on the cutting plane method. However, this cutting plane algorithm requires an efficient inference method as a subroutine. Unfortunately, exact inference in MLNs is intractable. So we develop a new approximation inference method for MLNs based on Linear Programming relaxation. Extensive experiments in two real-world MLN applications demonstrate that the proposed max-margin weight learner generally achieves higher F1 scores than the current best discriminative weight learner for MLNs.

For future work, our short-term goal is to develop a more efficient inference algorithm and test our max-margin weight learner on more complex problems where there are complicated relationships between the input and output variables and among the outputs. In the longer-term, our plan is to develop more efficient learning algorithms through online learning and algorithms that revise both the clauses and their weights to improve predictive performance.

ML ID: 238

- Spherical Topic Models

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Joseph Reisinger, Austin Waters, Bryan Silverthorn, and Raymond Mooney

In*NIPS'09 workshop: Applications for Topic Models: Text and Beyond*, 2009.We introduce the Spherical Admixture Model (SAM), a Bayesian topic model over arbitrary L2 normalized data. SAM models documents as points on a high- dimensional spherical manifold, and is capable of representing negative word- topic correlations and word presence/absence, unlike models with multinomial document likelihood, such as LDA. In this paper, we evaluate SAM as a topic browser, focusing on its ability to model “negative” topic features, and also as a dimensionality reduction method, using topic proportions as features for difficult classification tasks in natural language processing and computer vision.

ML ID: 237

- Activity Retrieval in Closed Captioned Videos

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Sonal Gupta

Masters Thesis, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, August 2009. 64 pages.Recognizing activities in real-world videos is a difficult problem exacerbated by background clutter, changes in camera angle and zoom, occlusion and rapid camera movements. Large corpora of labeled videos can be used to train automated activity recognition systems, but this requires expensive human labor and time. This thesis explores how closed captions that naturally accompany many videos can act as weak supervision that allows automatically collecting “labeled” data for activity recognition. We show that such an approach can improve activity retrieval in soccer videos. Our system requires no manual labeling of video clips and needs minimal human supervision. We also present a novel caption classifier that uses additional linguistic information to determine whether a specific comment refers to an ongoing activity. We demonstrate that combining linguistic analysis and automatically trained activity recognizers can significantly improve the precision of video retrieval.

ML ID: 236

- Learning with Markov Logic Networks: Transfer Learning, Structure Learning, and an Application to Web Query Disambiguation

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Lilyana Mihalkova

PhD Thesis, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, August 2009. 176 pages.Traditionally, machine learning algorithms assume that training data is provided as a set of independent instances, each of which can be described as a feature vector. In contrast, many domains of interest are inherently multi-relational, consisting of entities connected by a rich set of relations. For example, the participants in a social network are linked by friendships, collaborations, and shared interests. Likewise, the users of a search engine are related by searches for similar items and clicks to shared sites. The ability to model and reason about such relations is essential not only because better predictive accuracy is achieved by exploiting this additional information, but also because frequently the goal is to predict whether a set of entities are related in a particular way. This thesis falls within the area of Statistical Relational Learning (SRL), which combines ideas from two traditions within artificial intelligence, first-order logic and probabilistic graphical models, to address the challenge of learning from multi-relational data. We build on one particular SRL model, Markov logic networks (MLNs), which consist of a set of weighted first-order-logic formulae and provide a principled way of defining a probability distribution over possible worlds. We develop algorithms for learning of MLN structure both from scratch and by transferring a previously learned model, as well as an application of MLNs to the problem of Web query disambiguation. The ideas we present are unified by two main themes: the need to deal with limited training data and the use of bottom-up learning techniques.

Structure learning, the task of automatically acquiring a set of dependencies among the relations in the domain, is a central problem in SRL. We introduce BUSL, an algorithm for learning MLN structure from scratch that proceeds in a more bottom-up fashion, breaking away from the tradition of top-down learning typical in SRL. Our approach first constructs a novel data structure called a Markov network template that is used to restrict the search space for clauses. Our experiments in three relational domains demonstrate that BUSL dramatically reduces the search space for clauses and attains a significantly higher accuracy than a structure learner that follows a top-down approach.

Accurate and efficient structure learning can also be achieved by transferring a model obtained in a source domain related to the current target domain of interest. We view transfer as a revision task and present an algorithm that diagnoses a source MLN to determine which of its parts transfer directly to the target domain and which need to be updated. This analysis focuses the search for revisions on the incorrect portions of the source structure, thus speeding up learning. Transfer learning is particularly important when target-domain data is limited, such as when data on only a few individuals is available from domains with hundreds of entities connected by a variety of relations. We also address this challenging case and develop a general transfer learning approach that makes effective use of such limited target data in several social network domains.

Finally, we develop an application of MLNs to the problem of Web query disambiguation in a more privacy-aware setting where the only information available about a user is that captured in a short search session of 5--6 previous queries on average. This setting contrasts with previous work that typically assumes the availability of long user-specific search histories. To compensate for the scarcity of user-specific information, our approach exploits the relations between users, search terms, and URLs. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in the presence of noise and show that it outperforms several natural baselines on a large data set collected from the MSN search engine.

ML ID: 235

- Max-Margin Weight Learning for Markov Logic Networks

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Tuyen N. Huynh and Raymond J. Mooney

In*Proceedings of the European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases (ECML PKDD), Part 1*, 564--579, Bled, Slovenia, September 2009.Markov logic networks (MLNs) are an expressive representation for statistical relational learning that generalizes both first-order logic and graphical models. Existing discriminative weight learning methods for MLNs all try to learn weights that optimize the Conditional Log Likelihood (CLL) of the training examples. In this work, we present a new discriminative weight learning method for MLNs based on a max-margin framework. This results in a new model, Max-Margin Markov Logic Networks (M3LNs), that combines the expressiveness of MLNs with the predictive accuracy of structural Support Vector Machines (SVMs). To train the proposed model, we design a new approximation algorithm for loss-augmented inference in MLNs based on Linear Programming (LP). The experimental result shows that the proposed approach generally achieves higher F1 scores than the current best discriminative weight learner for MLNs.

ML ID: 234

- Learning to Disambiguate Search Queries from Short Sessions

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Lilyana Mihalkova and Raymond Mooney

In*Proceedings of the European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases (ECML PKDD), Part 2*, 111--127, Bled, Slovenia, September 2009.Web searches tend to be short and ambiguous. It is therefore not surprising that Web query disambiguation is an actively researched topic. To provide a personalized experience for a user, most existing work relies on search engine log data in which the search activities of that particular user, as well as other users, are recorded over long periods of time. Such approaches may raise privacy concerns and may be difficult to implement for pragmatic reasons. We present an approach to Web query disambiguation that bases its predictions only on a short glimpse of user search activity, captured in a brief session of 4--6 previous searches on average. Our method exploits the relations of the current search session to previous similarly short sessions of other users in order to predict the user's intentions and is based on Markov logic, a statistical relational learning model that has been successfully applied to challenging language problems in the past. We present empirical results that demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed approach on data collected from a commercial general-purpose search engine.

ML ID: 233

- Max-Margin Weight Learning for Markov Logic Networks

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Tuyen N. Huynh and Raymond J. Mooney

In*Proceedings of the International Workshop on Statistical Relational Learning (SRL-09)*, Leuven, Belgium, July 2009.Markov logic networks (MLNs) are an expressive representation for statistical relational learning that generalizes both first-order logic and graphical models. Existing discriminative weight learning methods for MLNs all try to learn weights that optimize the Conditional Log Likelihood (CLL) of the training examples. In this work, we present a new discriminative weight learning method for MLNs based on a max-margin framework. This results in a new model, Max-Margin Markov Logic Networks (M3LNs), that combines the expressiveness of MLNs with the predictive accuracy of structural Support Vector Machines (SVMs). To train the proposed model, we design a new approximation algorithm for loss-augmented inference in MLNs based on Linear Programming (LP). The experimental result shows that the proposed approach generally achieves higher F1 scores than the current best discriminative weight learner for MLNs.

ML ID: 232

- Speeding up Inference In Statistical Relational Learning by Clustering Similar Query Literals

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Lilyana Mihalkova and Matthew Richardson

In*Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Inductive Logic Programming (ILP-09)*, Leuven, Belgium, July 2009.Markov logic networks (MLNs) have been successfully applied to several challenging problems by taking a programming language approach where a set of formulas is hand-coded and weights are learned from data. Because inference plays an important role in this process, programming with an MLN would be significantly facilitated by speeding up inference. We present a new meta-inference algorithm that exploits the repeated structure frequently present in relational domains to speed up existing inference techniques. Our approach first clusters the query literals and then performs full inference for only one representative from each cluster. The clustering step incurs only a one-time up-front cost when weights are learned over a fixed structure.

ML ID: 231

- Learning a Compositional Semantic Parser using an Existing Syntactic Parser

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Ruifang Ge and Raymond J. Mooney

In*Joint Conference of the 47th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 4th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing of the Asian Federation of Natural Language Processing (ACL-IJCNLP 2009)*, 611--619, Suntec, Singapore, August 2009.We present a new approach to learning a semantic parser (a system that maps natural language sentences into logical form). Unlike previous methods, it exploits an existing syntactic parser to produce disambiguated parse trees that drive the compositional semantic interpretation. The resulting system produces improved results on standard corpora on natural language interfaces for database querying and simulated robot control.

ML ID: 229

- Probabilistic Abduction using Markov Logic Networks

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Rohit J. Kate and Raymond J. Mooney

In*Proceedings of the IJCAI-09 Workshop on Plan, Activity, and Intent Recognition (PAIR-09)*, Pasadena, CA, July 2009.Abduction is inference to the best explanation of a given set of evidence. It is important for plan or intent recognition systems. Traditional approaches to abductive reasoning have either used first-order logic, which is unable to reason under uncertainty, or Bayesian networks, which can handle uncertainty using probabilities but cannot directly handle an unbounded number of related entities. This paper proposes a new method for probabilistic abductive reasoning that combines the capabilities of first-order logic and graphical models by using Markov logic networks. Experimental results on a plan recognition task demonstrate the effectiveness of this method.

ML ID: 228

- Transfer Learning from Minimal Target Data by Mapping across Relational Domains

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Lilyana Mihalkova and Raymond Mooney

In*Proceedings of the 21st International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-09)*, 1163--1168, Pasadena, CA, July 2009.A central goal of transfer learning is to enable learning when training data from the domain of interest is limited. Yet, work on transfer across relational domains has so far focused on the case where there is a significant amount of target data. This paper bridges this gap by studying transfer when the amount of target data is minimal and consists of information about just a handful of entities. In the extreme case, only a single entity is known. We present the SR2LR algorithm that finds an effective mapping of predicates from a source model to the target domain in this setting and thus renders pre-existing knowledge useful to the target task. We demonstrate SR2LR's effectiveness in three benchmark relational domains on social interactions and study its behavior as information about an increasing number of entities becomes available.

ML ID: 227

- Using Closed Captions to Train Activity Recognizers that Improve Video Retrieval

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Sonal Gupta and Raymond Mooney

In*Proceedings of the CVPR-09 Workshop on Visual and Contextual Learning from Annotated Images and Videos (VCL)*, Miami, FL, June 2009.Recognizing activities in real-world videos is a difficult problem exacerbated by background clutter, changes in camera angle & zoom, rapid camera movements etc. Large corpora of labeled videos can be used to train automated activity recognition systems, but this requires expensive human labor and time. This paper explores how closed captions that naturally accompany many videos can act as weak supervision that allows automatically collecting labeled data for activity recognition. We show that such an approach can improve activity retrieval in soccer videos. Our system requires no manual labeling of video clips and needs minimal human supervision. We also present a novel caption classifier that uses additional linguistic information to determine whether a specific comment refers to an ongoing activity. We demonstrate that combining linguistic analysis and automatically trained activity recognizers can significantly improve the precision of video retrieval.

ML ID: 226

- Semi-supervised graph clustering: a kernel approach

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Brian Kulis, Sugato Basu, Inderjit Dhillon, and Raymond Mooney*Machine Learning Journal*, 74(1):1-22, 2009.Semi-supervised clustering algorithms aim to improve clustering results using limited supervision. The supervision is generally given as pairwise constraints; such constraints are natural for graphs, yet most semi-supervised clustering algorithms are designed for data represented as vectors. In this paper, we unify vector-based and graph-based approaches. We first show that a recently-proposed objective function for semi-supervised clustering based on Hidden Markov Random Fields, with squared Euclidean distance and a certain class of constraint penalty functions, can be expressed as a special case of the weighted kernel k-means objective (Dhillon et al., in Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, 2004a). A recent theoretical connection between weighted kernel k-means and several graph clustering objectives enables us to perform semi-supervised clustering of data given either as vectors or as a graph. For graph data, this result leads to algorithms for optimizing several new semi-supervised graph clustering objectives. For vector data, the kernel approach also enables us to find clusters with non-linear boundaries in the input data space. Furthermore, we show that recent work on spectral learning (Kamvar et al., in Proceedings of the 17th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 2003) may be viewed as a special case of our formulation. We empirically show that our algorithm is able to outperform current state-of-the-art semisupervised algorithms on both vector-based and graph-based data sets.

ML ID: 224