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UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Foundational AI



Archive for the 'Skills' Category

Conferences and Workshops – GOFCP, MLF & EDS 2022 – Recap of events by Antonin Schrab

By sharon.betts, on 16 November 2022

In September 2022 I had the amazing opportunity to participate in workshops in Rennes and in Sophia Antipolis, and in a doctoral symposium in Alicante!

In poster sessions and talks, I have presented my work on Aggregated Kernel Tests which covers three of my papers. The first one is MMD Aggregated Two-Sample Test where the two-sample problem is considered, in which one has access to samples from two distributions and is interested in detecting whether those come from the same or from different distributions. The second is KSD Aggregated Goodness-of-fit Test in which we consider the goodness-of-fit problem where one is given some samples and is asked whether these come from a given model (with access to its density or score function). In the third one, Efficient Aggregated Kernel Tests using Incomplete U-statistics, we propose computationally efficient tests for the two-sample, goodness-of-fit, and independence problems; this last one consists in detecting dependence between the two components of paired samples. We tackle these three testing problems using kernel-based statistics, in such a setting the performance of these tests is known to heavily depend on the choice of kernels or kernel parameters (i.e. bandwidth parameter). We propose tests which aggregate over a collection of kernels and retain test power, we theoretically prove optimality of our tests under some regularity assumptions, and empirically show that our aggregated tests outperform other state-of-the-art kernel-based tests.

I started the month of September by participating in GOFCP 2022, the 5th Workshop on Goodness-of-Fit, Change-Point and related problems, from 2nd to 4th September in ENSAI in Rennes (France). It was extremely interesting to hear about the latest research in this very specific research field which covers exactly the topics I had been working on since the start of my PhD.

I then went to EURECOM in Sophia Antipolis (France) for MLF 2022, the ELISE Theory Workshop on Machine Learning Fundamentals, from 5th to 7th September. Talks and poster sessions covered the theory of kernel methods, hypothesis testing, partial differential equations, optimisation, Gaussian processes, explainability and AI safety.

Finally, I participated in EDS 2022, the ELLIS Doctoral Symposium 2022, hosted by the ELLIS Alicante at the University of Alicante in Spain from 19th to 23rd September. It was an amazing experience to meet so many other PhD students working on diverse topics in Machine Learning. I especially enjoyed the numerous poster sessions which allowed to engage with other students and discuss their current research!

I am extremely grateful to Valentin PatileaMotonobu Kanagawa and Aditya Gulati for the respective invitations, and to my CDT (UCL CDT in Foundational AI with funding from UKRI) which allowed me to participate in those workshops/symposium!

Getting the Most Out of Presenting Your Research to Non-specialists, Reflections on the 2022 UCLIC PhD Showcase By Zak Morgan, PhD Student

By sharon.betts, on 4 July 2022

Zak Morgan Cumberland Lodge poster

One of the most challenging parts of starting my PhD journey so far, has been adapting my written work from the highly technical works such as academic papers, to a broader audience such as those at multi-disciplinary research conferences. The formal definition of this skill would be in the D domain of the Researcher Development Framework, D2 “Communication and Dissemination” and D3 “Engagement and Impact”.

My first poster presentation was given at Cumberland Lodge, mainly to fellow students in the FAI CDT, but also to other AI focused CDTs around the country. The second referenced here however was to other PhD students and academics in the UCL interaction centre (UCLIC) who are a multi-disciplinary group focused on all avenues of technology and how we interact with it, combining the fields of computer science and psychology.

One of the presentations at the showcase which I found interesting was by Leon Reicherts, who presented his paper “Do Make me Think!”. This is about how to use conversational user interfaces to ask questions to the user, in order to enable “deeper” thinking and more thorough learning to the user. I like to think of this as an interactive version of rubberducking.

I think applying a similar concept to these talks in beneficial. That is that ideally you can inform the audience with sufficient detail about your project in order to have the opportunity to have questions fed back to you at the end which provoke this “deeper thinking”. The difference in audience in these two presentations was crucial in order to perform the first part of this technique correctly.

These presentations have been very beneficial to me in generating new directions for my research, informing me on how well I communicated my research as well as having my peers send me relevant research papers that they see that they think will be useful to me. I can’t stress enough how much this last point has helped me in keeping up to date in my research and in writing my literature reviews, search engines can’t hold a candle to a good network of researchers!

This work was supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering Chairs in Emerging Technology Scheme (CiET1718/14)