Tag Archives: Bayesian Inference

Enforcing safe behaviour on critical systems that use machine learning through robust control and bayesian inference

J. F. Fisac, A. K. Akametalu, M. N. Zeilinger, S. Kaynama, J. Gillula and C. J. Tomlin, A General Safety Framework for Learning-Based Control in Uncertain Robotic Systems, IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, vol. 64, no. 7, pp. 2737-2752 DOI: 10.1109/TAC.2018.2876389.

The proven efficacy of learning-based control schemes strongly motivates their application to robotic systems operating in the physical world. However, guaranteeing correct operation during the learning process is currently an unresolved issue, which is of vital importance in safety-critical systems. We propose a general safety framework based on Hamilton–Jacobi reachability methods that can work in conjunction with an arbitrary learning algorithm. The method exploits approximate knowledge of the system dynamics to guarantee constraint satisfaction while minimally interfering with the learning process. We further introduce a Bayesian mechanism that refines the safety analysis as the system acquires new evidence, reducing initial conservativeness when appropriate while strengthening guarantees through real-time validation. The result is a least-restrictive, safety-preserving control law that intervenes only when the computed safety guarantees require it, or confidence in the computed guarantees decays in light of new observations. We prove theoretical safety guarantees combining probabilistic and worst-case analysis and demonstrate the proposed framework experimentally on a quadrotor vehicle. Even though safety analysis is based on a simple point-mass model, the quadrotor successfully arrives at a suitable controller by policy-gradient reinforcement learning without ever crashing, and safely retracts away from a strong external disturbance introduced during flight.

On how attention, modelled by bayesian inference (for category learning), can structure the way reinforcement learning works

Angela Radulescu, Yael Niv, Ian Ballard, Holistic Reinforcement Learning: The Role of Structure and Attention, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 23, Issue 4, 2019, Pages 278-292, DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2019.01.010.

Compact representations of the environment allow humans to behave efficiently in a complex world. Reinforcement learning models capture many behavioral and neural effects but do not explain recent findings showing that structure in the environment influences learning. In parallel, Bayesian cognitive models predict how humans learn structured knowledge but do not have a clear neurobiological implementation. We propose an integration of these two model classes in which structured knowledge learned via approximate Bayesian inference acts as a source of selective attention. In turn, selective attention biases reinforcement learning towards relevant dimensions of the environment. An understanding of structure learning will help to resolve the fundamental challenge in decision science: explaining why people make the decisions they do.

Example of learning a Bayesian network using expert knowledge

H. Amirkhani, M. Rahmati, P. J. F. Lucas and A. Hommersom, Exploiting Experts’ Knowledge for Structure Learning of Bayesian Networks, IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, vol. 39, no. 11, pp. 2154-2170, DOI: 10.1109/TPAMI.2016.2636828.

Learning Bayesian network structures from data is known to be hard, mainly because the number of candidate graphs is super-exponential in the number of variables. Furthermore, using observational data alone, the true causal graph is not discernible from other graphs that model the same set of conditional independencies. In this paper, it is investigated whether Bayesian network structure learning can be improved by exploiting the opinions of multiple domain experts regarding cause-effect relationships. In practice, experts have different individual probabilities of correctly labeling the inclusion or exclusion of edges in the structure. The accuracy of each expert is modeled by three parameters. Two new scoring functions are introduced that score each candidate graph based on the data and experts’ opinions, taking into account their accuracy parameters. In the first scoring function, the experts’ accuracies are estimated using an expectation-maximization-based algorithm and the estimated accuracies are explicitly used in the scoring process. The second function marginalizes out the accuracy parameters to obtain more robust scores when it is not possible to obtain a good estimate of experts’ accuracies. The experimental results on simulated and real world datasets show that exploiting experts’ knowledge can improve the structure learning if we take the experts’ accuracies into account.

Reinterpretation of evolutionary processes as algorithms for Bayesian inference

Jordan W. Suchow, David D. Bourgin, Thomas L. Griffiths, Evolution in Mind: Evolutionary Dynamics, Cognitive Processes, and Bayesian Inference, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 21, Issue 7, July 2017, Pages 522-530, ISSN 1364-6613, DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2017.04.005.

Evolutionary theory describes the dynamics of population change in settings affected by reproduction, selection, mutation, and drift. In the context of human cognition, evolutionary theory is most often invoked to explain the origins of capacities such as language, metacognition, and spatial reasoning, framing them as functional adaptations to an ancestral environment. However, evolutionary theory is useful for understanding the mind in a second way: as a mathematical framework for describing evolving populations of thoughts, ideas, and memories within a single mind. In fact, deep correspondences exist between the mathematics of evolution and of learning, with perhaps the deepest being an equivalence between certain evolutionary dynamics and Bayesian inference. This equivalence permits reinterpretation of evolutionary processes as algorithms for Bayesian inference and has relevance for understanding diverse cognitive capacities, including memory and creativity.

Demonstration that a theory of cortical function (“predictive coding”) can perform bayesian inference in some tasks, with a nice related work of physiological foundations of probability distribution representation in neurons and of bayesian inference

M. W. Spratling, A neural implementation of Bayesian inference based on predictive coding, Connection Science, Volume 28, 2016 – Issue 4, DOI: 10.1080/09540091.2016.1243655.

Predictive coding (PC) is a leading theory of cortical function that has previously been shown to explain a great deal of neurophysiological and psychophysical data. Here it is shown that PC can perform almost exact Bayesian inference when applied to computing with population codes. It is demonstrated that the proposed algorithm, based on PC, can: decode probability distributions encoded as noisy population codes; combine priors with likelihoods to calculate posteriors; perform cue integration and cue segregation; perform function approximation; be extended to perform hierarchical inference; simultaneously represent and reason about multiple stimuli; and perform inference with multi-modal and non-Gaussian probability distributions. PC thus provides a neural network-based method for performing probabilistic computation and provides a simple, yet comprehensive, theory of how the cerebral cortex performs Bayesian inference.

Example of application of bayesian network learning and inference to robotics, and a brief but useful related work on learning by imitation

Dan Song; Ek, C.H.; Huebner, K.; Kragic, D., Task-Based Robot Grasp Planning Using Probabilistic Inference, Robotics, IEEE Transactions on , vol.31, no.3, pp.546,561, June 2015, DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2015.2409912.

Grasping and manipulating everyday objects in a goal-directed manner is an important ability of a service robot. The robot needs to reason about task requirements and ground these in the sensorimotor information. Grasping and interaction with objects are challenging in real-world scenarios, where sensorimotor uncertainty is prevalent. This paper presents a probabilistic framework for the representation and modeling of robot-grasping tasks. The framework consists of Gaussian mixture models for generic data discretization, and discrete Bayesian networks for encoding the probabilistic relations among various task-relevant variables, including object and action features as well as task constraints. We evaluate the framework using a grasp database generated in a simulated environment including a human and two robot hand models. The generative modeling approach allows the prediction of grasping tasks given uncertain sensory data, as well as object and grasp selection in a task-oriented manner. Furthermore, the graphical model framework provides insights into dependencies between variables and features relevant for object grasping.