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Binxin (Robin) Ru

Associate Member (PhD) (2018—2022)

Robin was a DPhil at the University of Oxford working with Yarin Gal (OATML group) and Michael Osborne (BXL group under MLRG). He is interested in Bayesian optimisation and Bayesian deep learning, and especially in their application on AutoML tasks like hyper-parameter tuning and neural architecture search. Robin obtained his undergraduate and masters degree in Engineering Science from University of Oxford and graduated as the top performer in his cohort. He is a Clarendon Scholar.


Publications while at OATMLNews items mentioning Binxin (Robin) RuReproducibility and CodeBlog Posts

Publications while at OATML:

DARTS without a Validation Set; Optimizing the Marginal Likelihood

The success of neural architecture search (NAS) has historically been limited by excessive compute requirements. While modern weight-sharing NAS methods such as DARTS are able to finish the search in single-digit GPU days, extracting the final best architecture from the shared weights is notoriously unreliable. Training-Speed-Estimate (TSE), a recently developed generalization estimator with a Bayesian marginal likelihood interpretation, has previously been used in place of the validation loss for gradient-based optimization in DARTS. This prevents the DARTS skip connection collapse, which significantly improves performance on NASBench-201 and the original DARTS search space. We extend those results by applying various DARTS diagnostics and show several unusual behaviors arising from not using a validation set. Furthermore, our experiments yield concrete examples of the depth gap and topology selection in DARTS having a strongly negative impact on the search performance despite gen... [full abstract]


Miroslav Fil, Binxin (Robin) Ru, Clare Lyle, Yarin Gal
5th Workshop on Meta-Learning, NeurIPS 2021
[Paper]

Speedy Performance Estimation for Neural Architecture Search

Reliable yet efficient evaluation of generalisation performance of a proposed architecture is crucial to the success of neural architecture search (NAS). Traditional approaches face a variety of limitations: training each architecture to completion is prohibitively expensive, early stopped validation accuracy may correlate poorly with fully trained performance, and model-based estimators require large training sets. We instead propose to estimate the final test performance based on a simple measure of training speed. Our estimator is theoretically motivated by the connection between generalisation and training speed, and is also inspired by the reformulation of a PAC-Bayes bound under the Bayesian setting. Our model-free estimator is simple, efficient, and cheap to implement, and does not require hyperparameter-tuning or surrogate training before deployment. We demonstrate on various NAS search spaces that our estimator consistently outperforms other alternatives in achieving bette... [full abstract]


Binxin (Robin) Ru, Clare Lyle, Lewis Smith, Miroslav Fil, Mark van der Wilk, Yarin Gal
NeurIPS 2021
[Paper]

Think Global and Act Local: Bayesian Optimisation over High-Dimensional Categorical and Mixed Search Spaces

High-dimensional black-box optimisation remains an important yet notoriously challenging problem. Despite the success of Bayesian optimisation methods on continuous domains, domains that are categorical, or that mix continuous and categorical variables, remain challenging. We propose a novel solution – we combine local optimisation with a tailored kernel design, effectively handling highdimensional categorical and mixed search spaces, whilst retaining sample efficiency. We further derive convergence guarantee for the proposed approach. Finally, we demonstrate empirically that our method outperforms the current baselines on a variety of synthetic and real-world tasks in terms of performance, computational costs, or both.


Xingchen Wan, Vu Nguyen, Huong Ha, Binxin (Robin) Ru, Cong Lu, Michael A. Osborne
ICML, 2021
[Paper]

Interpretable Neural Architecture Search via Bayesian Optimisation with Weisfeiler-Lehman Kernels

Current neural architecture search (NAS) strategies focus only on finding a single, good, architecture. They offer little insight into why a specific network is performing well, or how we should modify the architecture if we want further improvements. We propose a Bayesian optimisation (BO) approach for NAS that combines the Weisfeiler-Lehman graph kernel with a Gaussian process surrogate. Our method not only optimises the architecture in a highly data-efficient manner, but also affords interpretability by discovering useful network features and their corresponding impact on the network performance. Moreover, our method is capable of capturing the topological structures of the architectures and is scalable to large graphs, thus making the high-dimensional and graph-like search spaces amenable to BO. We demonstrate empirically that our surrogate model is capable of identifying useful motifs which can guide the generation of new architectures. We finally show that our method outperfo... [full abstract]


Binxin (Robin) Ru, Xingchen Wan, Xiaowen Dong, Michael A. Osborne
ICLR, 2021
[Paper]

A Bayesian Perspective on Training Speed and Model Selection

We take a Bayesian perspective to illustrate a connection between training speed and the marginal likelihood in linear models. This provides two major insights: first, that a measure of a model's training speed can be used to estimate its marginal likelihood. Second, that this measure, under certain conditions, predicts the relative weighting of models in linear model combinations trained to minimize a regression loss. We verify our results in model selection tasks for linear models and for the infinite-width limit of deep neural networks. We further provide encouraging empirical evidence that the intuition developed in these settings also holds for deep neural networks trained with stochastic gradient descent. Our results suggest a promising new direction towards explaining why neural networks trained with stochastic gradient descent are biased towards functions that generalize well.


Clare Lyle, Lisa Schut, Binxin (Robin) Ru, Yarin Gal, Mark van der Wilk
NeurIPS, 2020
[Paper] [Code] [BibTex]

BayesOpt Adversarial Attack

Black-box adversarial attacks require a large number of attempts before finding successful adversarial examples that are visually indistinguishable from the original input. Current approaches relying on substitute model training, gradient estimation or genetic algorithms often require an excessive number of queries. Therefore, they are not suitable for real-world systems where the maximum query number is limited due to cost. We propose a query-efficient black-box attack which uses Bayesian optimisation in combination with Bayesian model selection to optimise over the adversarial perturbation and the optimal degree of search space dimension reduction. We demonstrate empirically that our method can achieve comparable success rates with 2-5 times fewer queries compared to previous state-of-the-art black-box attacks.


Binxin (Robin) Ru, Adam Cobb, Arno Blaas, Yarin Gal
ICLR, 2020
[OpenReview]
More publications on Google Scholar.

News items mentioning Binxin (Robin) Ru:

NeurIPS 2021

NeurIPS 2021

11 Oct 2021

Thirteen papers with OATML members accepted to NeurIPS 2021 main conference. More information in our blog post.

Link to this news item
OATML graduate students receive best reviewer awards and serve as expert reviewers at ICML 2021

OATML graduate students receive best reviewer awards and serve as expert reviewers at ICML 2021

06 Sep 2021

OATML graduate students Sebastian Farquhar and Jannik Kossen receive best reviewer awards (top 10%) at ICML 2021. Further, OATML graduate students Tim G. J. Rudner, Pascal Notin, Panagiotis Tigas, and Binxin Ru have served the conference as expert reviewers.

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ICML 2021

ICML 2021

17 Jul 2021

Seven papers with OATML members accepted to ICML 2021, together with 14 workshop papers. More information in our blog post.

Link to this news item


Blog Posts

13 OATML Conference papers at NeurIPS 2021

OATML group members and collaborators are proud to present 13 papers at NeurIPS 2021 main conference. …

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Jannik Kossen, Neil Band, Aidan Gomez, Clare Lyle, Tim G. J. Rudner, Yarin Gal, Binxin (Robin) Ru, Clare Lyle, Lisa Schut, Atılım Güneş Baydin, Tim G. J. Rudner, Andrew Jesson, Panagiotis Tigas, Joost van Amersfoort, Andreas Kirsch, Pascal Notin, Angelos Filos, 11 Oct 2021

21 OATML Conference and Workshop papers at ICML 2021

OATML group members and collaborators are proud to present 21 papers at ICML 2021, including 7 papers at the main conference and 14 papers at various workshops. Group members will also be giving invited talks and participate in panel discussions at the workshops. …

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Angelos Filos, Clare Lyle, Jannik Kossen, Sebastian Farquhar, Tom Rainforth, Andrew Jesson, Sören Mindermann, Tim G. J. Rudner, Oscar Key, Binxin (Robin) Ru, Pascal Notin, Panagiotis Tigas, Andreas Kirsch, Jishnu Mukhoti, Joost van Amersfoort, Lisa Schut, Muhammed Razzak, Aidan Gomez, Jan Brauner, Yarin Gal, 17 Jul 2021

22 OATML Conference and Workshop papers at NeurIPS 2020

OATML group members and collaborators are proud to be presenting 22 papers at NeurIPS 2020. Group members are also co-organising various events around NeurIPS, including workshops, the NeurIPS Meet-Up on Bayesian Deep Learning and socials. …

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Muhammed Razzak, Panagiotis Tigas, Angelos Filos, Atılım Güneş Baydin, Andrew Jesson, Andreas Kirsch, Clare Lyle, Freddie Kalaitzis, Jan Brauner, Jishnu Mukhoti, Lewis Smith, Lisa Schut, Mizu Nishikawa-Toomey, Oscar Key, Binxin (Robin) Ru, Sebastian Farquhar, Sören Mindermann, Tim G. J. Rudner, Yarin Gal, 04 Dec 2020

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