Archive for prairie

MCMC, variational inference, invertible flows… bridging the gap?

Posted in Books, Mountains, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2020 by xi'an

Two weeks ago, my friend [see here when climbing Pic du Midi d’Ossau in 2005!] and coauthor Éric Moulines gave a very interesting on-line talk entitled MCMC, Variational Inference, Invertible Flows… Bridging the gap?, which was merging MCMC, variational autoencoders, and variational inference. I paid close attention as I plan to teach an advanced course on acronyms next semester in Warwick. (By acronyms, I mean ABC+GAN+VAE!)

The notion in this work is that variational autoencoders are based on over-simple mean-field variational distributions, that usually produce a poor approximation of the target distribution. Éric and his coauthors propose to introduce a Metropolis step in the VAE. This leads to a more general notion of Markov transitions and a global balance condition. Hamiltonian Monte Carlo can be used as well and it improves the latent distribution approximation, namely the encoder, which is surprising to me. The steps of the Markov kernel produce a manageable transform of the initial mean field approximation, a random version of the original VAE. Manageable provided not too many MCMC steps are implemented. (Now, the flow of slides was much too fast for me to get a proper understanding of the implementation of the method, of the degree of its calibration, and of the computing cost. I need to read the associated papers.)

Once the talk was over, I went back to changing tires and tubes, as two bikes of mine had flat tires, the latest being a spectacular explosion (!) that seemingly went through the tire (although I believe the opposite happened, namely the tire got slashed and induced the tube to blow out very quickly). Blame the numerous bits of broken glass over bike paths.

Prairie chair

Posted in pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2019 by xi'an

Today is the launching day of PRAIRIE, one of the four Instituts Interdisciplinaires d’Intelligence Artificielle (3IA) supported by the French government. Taking place in Paris Dauphine, with Yann Le Cun as guest speaker. I have been fortunate to be endowed with one of these chairs for the coming years, along with my CEREMADE colleagues Laurent Cohen and Irène Waldspurger.

instituts interdisciplinaires d’intelligence artificielle

Posted in pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , on April 26, 2019 by xi'an

Four French institutes have just been selected by [the jury mandated by] the French Government to become interdisciplinary institutes for artificial intelligence (3IA):

•    ANITI (Toulouse), centred at l’Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées
•    MIAI @ Grenoble Alpes (Grenoble), centred at l’Université Grenoble Alpes
•    PRAIRIE (Paris), centred à Inria
•    3IA Côte d’Azur (Nice), centred at l’Université Côte d’Azur

with Paris Dauphine, PSL Research University, a component of the third institute. (Where Prairie stands for PaRis Artificial Intelligence Research InstitutE.) This follows the “plan Villani“, launched by Cédric Villani to boost research in artificial intelligence in France and [possibly] slow down the brain drain of French IA researchers. With individual chairs attribued to each project, soon to be announced.

Dolason Prairie

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , on August 11, 2016 by xi'an