Mark Davenport (PhD, 2010) as been selected as a Rice Outstanding Young Engineering Alumnus. The award, established in 1996, recognizes achievements of Rice Engineering Alumni under 40 years old. Recipients are chosen by the George R. Brown School of Engineering and the Rice Engineering Alumni (REA).

Mark is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech. His many other honors include the Hershel Rich Invention Award and Budd Award for best engineering thesis at Rice, a NSF Math Sciences postdoc fellowship, NSF CAREER Award, AFOSR YIP Award, Sloan Fellow, and PECASE.

Mark spent time at Rice in winter 2020 as the Texas Instruments Visiting Professor.

DSP postdoc alum Thomas Goldstein has launched a new clothing line that evades detection by machine learning vision algorithms.

This stylish pullover is a great way to stay warm this winter, whether in the office or on-the-go. It features a stay-dry microfleece lining, a modern fit, and adversarial patterns the evade most common object detectors. In this demonstration, the YOLOv2 detector is evaded using a pattern trained on the COCO dataset with a carefully constructed objective.

Paper:  Making an Invisibility Cloak: Real World Adversarial Attacks on Object Detectors by Z. Wu, S-N. Lim, L. Davis, Tom Goldstein, October 2019

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New Yorker article:  Dressing for the Surveillance Age

Rice DSP group faculty Richard Baraniuk will be leading a team of engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians on a five-year ONR MURI project to develop a principled theory of deep learning based on rigorous mathematical principles.  The team includes:

International collaborators include the Alan Turing and Isaac Newton Institutes in the UK.

DOD press release

B. Wang*, T. M. Nguyen*, A. L. Bertozzi***, R. G. Baraniuk**, S. J. Osher**. "Scheduled Restart Momentum for Accelerated Stochastic Gradient Descent", arXiv, 2020.

Gihub code:


Slides: SRSGD

Stochastic gradient descent (SGD) with constant momentum and its variants such as Adam are the optimization algorithms of choice for training deep neural networks (DNNs). Since DNN training is incredibly computationally expensive, there is great interest in speeding up convergence. Nesterov accelerated gradient (NAG) improves the convergence rate of gradient descent (GD) for convex optimization using a specially designed momentum; however, it accumulates error when an inexact gradient is used (such as in SGD), slowing convergence at best and diverging at worst. In this paper, we propose Scheduled Restart SGD (SRSGD), a new NAG-style scheme for training DNNs. SRSGD replaces the constant momentum in SGD by the increasing momentum in NAG but stabilizes the iterations by resetting the momentum to zero according to a schedule. Using a variety of models and benchmarks for image classification, we demonstrate that, in training DNNs, SRSGD significantly improves convergence and generalization; for instance in training ResNet200 for ImageNet classification, SRSGD achieves an error rate of 20.93% vs. the benchmark of 22.13%. These improvements become more significant as the network grows deeper. Furthermore, on both CIFAR and ImageNet, SRSGD reaches similar or even better error rates with fewer training epochs compared to the SGD baseline.

Figure 1: Error vs. depth of ResNet models trained with SRSGD and the baseline SGD with constant momemtum. Advantage of SRSGD continues to grow with depth.

Figure 2: Test error vs. number of epoch reduction in CIFAR10 and ImageNet training. The dashed lines are test errors of the SGD baseline.

* : Co-first authors; **: Co-last authors; ***: Middle author

Rice DSP will again be well-represented at NeurIPS 2019 in Vancouver, Canada

DSP alum Christoph Studer (postdoc 2010-12) has been awarded tenure at Cornell University. Christoph is an expert in signal processing, communications, machine learning, and their implementation in VLSI circuits. He has received a Swiss National Science Foundation postdoc fellowship, a US NSF CAREER Award, and numerous best paper awards.  He is still is not a fan of Blender.

D. LeJeune, H. Javadi, R. G. Baraniuk, "The Implicit Regularization of Ordinary Least Squares Ensembles,", 10 October 2019.

Ensemble methods that average over a collection of independent predictors that are each limited to a subsampling of both the examples and features of the training data command a significant presence in machine learning, such as the ever-popular random forest, yet the
nature of the subsampling effect, particularly of the features, is not well understood.  We study the case of an ensemble of linear predictors, where each individual predictor is fit using ordinary least squares on a random submatrix of the data matrix. We show that, under standard Gaussianity assumptions, when the number of features selected for each predictor is optimally tuned, the asymptotic risk of a large ensemble is equal to the asymptotic ridge regression risk, which is known to be optimal among linear predictors in this setting. In addition to eliciting this implicit regularization that results from subsampling, we also connect this ensemble to the dropout technique used in training deep (neural) networks, another strategy that has been shown to have a ridge-like regularizing effect.

Above: Example (rows) and feature (columns) subsampling of the training data X used in the ordinary least squares fit for one member of the ensemble. The i-th member of the ensemble is only allowed to predict using its subset of the features (green). It must learn its parameters by performing ordinary least squares using the subsampled examples of (red) and the subsampled examples (rows) and features (columns) of X (blue, crosshatched).