MIDAS Seminar

Infusing Structure into Machine Learning Algorithms

Animashree Anandkumar, PhDProfessor, Computing + Mathematical SciencesCalifornia Institute of Technology

Abstract: Standard deep-learning algorithms are based on a function-fitting approach that do not exploit any domain knowledge or constraints. This makes them unsuitable in applications that have limited data or require safety or stability guarantees, such as robotics. By infusing structure and physics into deep-learning algorithms, we can overcome these limitations. There are several ways to do this. For instance, we use tensorized neural networks to encode multidimensional data and higher-order correlations. We combine symbolic expressions with numerical data to learn a domain of functions and obtain strong generalization. We combine baseline controllers with learnt residual dynamics to improve landing of quadrotor drones. These instances demonstrate that building structure into ML algorithms can lead to significant gains.

Bio: Anima Anandkumar is a Bren professor at Caltech CMS department and a director of machine learning research at NVIDIA. Her research spans both theoretical and practical aspects of large-scale machine learning. In particular, she has spearheaded research in tensor-algebraic methods, non-convex optimization, probabilistic models and deep learning.
Anima is the recipient of several awards and honors such as the Bren named chair professorship at Caltech, Alfred. P. Sloan Fellowship, Young investigator awards from the Air Force and Army research offices, Faculty fellowships from Microsoft, Google and Adobe, and several best paper awards. She is a member of the World Economic Forum's Expert Network consisting of leading experts from academia, business, government, and the media. She has been featured in documentaries by PBS, KPCC, wired magazine, and in articles by MIT Technology review, Forbes, Yourstory, O'Reilly media, and so on.
Anima received her B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Madras in 2004 and her PhD from Cornell University in 2009. She was a postdoctoral researcher at MIT from 2009 to 2010, a visiting researcher at Microsoft Research New England in 2012 and 2014, an assistant professor at U.C. Irvine between 2010 and 2016, an associate professor at U.C. Irvine between 2016 and 2017 and a principal scientist at Amazon Web Services between 2016 and 2018.

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