Workshop am 21.-22.03.2024 in Potsdam

Workshop am 21.-22.03.2024 in Potsdam

Confirmed invited speakers include

Gilles Blanchard (Paris, France)

Merle Behr (Regensburg, Germany)

Elisabeth Gassiat (Paris, France)

Sonja Greven (Berlin, Germany)

Claudia Kirch (Magdeburg, Germany)

Michael Kohler (Darmstadt, Germany)

Enno Mammen (Heidelberg, Germany)

Thomas Mikosch (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Eric Moulines (Paris, France)

Jonas Peters (Zürich, Switzerland)


Campus Neues Palais of the University Potsdam
Am Neuen Palais 10, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
Building 9, rooms 1.14 and 1.15 on the first floor


Thursday, March 21, 2024

  • 08:30 – 09:00 Welcome coffee and opening remarks
  • 09:00 – 09:50 Jonas Peters (ETH Zürich, Switzerland)Can we go beyond the observed distribution? Estimating price elasticities and testing hypotheses under distributional shifts

    When aiming to predict how an observed system reacts to an active change, that is, an intervention, applying classical prediction methods does not suffice. Instead, we need to use causal inference techniques that usually come with strong assumptions. In this talk, we present some ideas about estimating price elasticity in electricity markets. We also discuss a theoretical question that occurs at several places when considering changes in the distribution: can we test hypotheses about the shifted distribution even though we do not observe data from it?

  • 10:00 – 10:50 Sonja Greven (Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany)
    Elastic methods for curves in two or more dimensions

    We propose statistical methods for curve-valued responses in two or more dimensions, where only the image but not the parametrization of the curves is of interest. Examples of such data are handwritten letters, movement paths or outlines of objects. In the square-root-velocity framework, a parametrization invariant ‘elastic’ distance for curves is obtained as the quotient space metric with respect to the action of re-parametrization (‚warping’), which is by isometries. We first provide methods and algorithms to approximate the elastic distance for such curves even if sparsely sampled, propose to use spline curves for modelling Fréchet means and show identifiability of the spline model modulo warping. We then discuss the generalization of ‚linear‘ regression to quotient metric spaces more generally, before illustrating the usefulness of our approach for the special case of curves modulo re-parametrization. We apply our methods to the classification of Parkinson’s patients and controls based on a spiral drawing test, to clustering and averaging GPS tracks with different speeds, and to disentangling the different effects of Alzheimer’s disease and normal ageing on the shape of the human hippocampus via elastic regression. All developed methods are implemented in the R-package elasdics.
    (joint work with Lisa Steyer and Almond Stöcker)

  • 11:00 – 11:30 Coffee break
  • 11:30 – 12:20 Claudia Kirch (Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany)

    Scan statistics for the detection of anomalies in large image data

    Anomaly detection in random fields is an important problem in many applications including the detection of cancerous cells in medicine, obstacles in autonomous driving and cracks in the construction material of buildings. Scan statistics have the potential to detect local structure in such data sets by enhancing relevant features. Frequently, such anomalies are visible as areas with different expected values compared to the background noise where the geometric properties of these areas may depend on the type of anomaly. Such geometric properties can be taken into account by combinations and contrasts of sample means over differently-shaped local windows. For example, in 2D image data of concrete both cracks, which we aim to detect, as well as integral parts of the material (such as air bubbles or gravel) constitute areas with different expected values in the image. Nevertheless, due to their different geometric properties we can define scan statistics that enhance cracks and at the same time discard the integral parts of the given concrete. Cracks can then be detected using a suitable threshold for appropriate scan statistics.
    In order to derive such thresholds, we prove weak convergence of the scan statistics towards a functional of a Gaussian process under the null hypothesis of no anomalies.
    The result allows for arbitrary (but fixed) dimension, makes relatively weak assumptions on the underlying noise, the shape of the local windows and the combination of finitely-many of such windows. These theoretical findings are accompanied by some simulations as well as applications to semi-artifical 2D-images of concrete.
    This is joint work with Philipp Klein (Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg) and Marco Meyer (University of Hannover).

  • 12:20 – 13:30 Lunch break
  • 13:30 – 14:20 Merle Behr (University of Regensburg, Germany)

    Provable Boolean interaction recovery from tree ensemble obtained via random forests

    Random Forests (RFs) are at the cutting edge of supervised machine learning in terms of prediction performance, especially in genomics. Iterative RFs (iRFs) use a tree ensemble from iteratively modified RFs to obtain predictive and stable nonlinear or Boolean interactions of features. They have shown great promise for Boolean biological interaction discovery that is central to advancing functional genomics and precision medicine. However, theoretical studies into how tree-based methods discover Boolean feature interactions are missing. Inspired by the thresholding behavior in many biological processes, we first introduce a discontinuous nonlinear regression model, called the “Locally Spiky Sparse” (LSS) model. Specifically, the LSS model assumes that the regression function is a linear combination of piecewise constant Boolean interaction terms. Given an RF tree ensemble, we define a quantity called “Depth-Weighted Prevalence” (DWP) for a set of signed features S. Intuitively speaking, DWP(S) measures how frequently features in S appear together in an RF tree ensemble. We prove that, with high probability, DWP(S) attains a universal upper bound that does not involve any model coefficients, if and only if S corresponds to a union of Boolean interactions under the LSS model. Consequentially, we show that a theoretically tractable version of the iRF procedure, called LSSFind, yields consistent interaction discovery under the LSS model as the sample size goes to infinity. Finally, simulation results show that LSSFind recovers the interactions under the LSS model, even when some assumptions are violated.
    Co-authors: Yu Wang, Xiao Li, and Bin Yu (UC Berkeley)

  • 14:30 – 15:20 Gilles Blanchard (Université Paris Saclay, France)Estimating multiple high-dimensional vector means by aggregationWe aim at estimating a possibly large number of high-dimensional means for different probability distributions on a common space, when independent samples are available from each distribution. This problem is relevant for instance for the goal of estimating, for multiple distributions, their kernel mean embeddings (KME) — a very popular tool in recent years in machine learning.
    We consider convex combinations of empirical means of each sample to form estimators, by an aggregation scheme that minimizes over possible weight vectors an upper confidence bound on the quadratic risk.
    We analyze the improvement in quadratic risk of this scheme over the simple empirical means. We allow full heterogeneity of sample sizes and of distribution covariances, and zero a priori knowledge of the structure of the mean vectors, nor of the covariances. A particular feature of our analysis is the focus on the role of the effective dimension of the data in a „dimensional asymptotics“ point of view, highlighting that the risk improvement of the proposed method satisfies an oracle inequality approaching an adaptive (minimax) improvement as the effective dimension grows large.
    (This is joint work with Jean-Baptiste Fermanian and Hannah Marienwald)

  • 15:30 – 16:00 Coffee break
  • 16:00 – 16:50 Eric Moulines (Institut Polytechnique de Paris, France)

    Bayesian inverse problems with score-based diffusion priors.

    Since their first introduction, score-based diffusion models (SDMs) have been successfully used to solve a variety of linear inverse problems in finite-dimensional vector spaces, as they provide an efficient approximation to the prior distribution. Score-based diffusion models allow an efficient simulation of the a priori law, but do not provide a simple density expression: most classical methods – variational or MCMC approaches – are therefore not applicable. Recently, a number of solutions have been proposed, which we will present and evaluate. We will also show that many current methods are not able to capture the a posteriori distribution. We will also present two new methods we have recently developed that provide theoretical guarantees. We will illustrate these methods using different benchmarks.

  • 17:00 – 17:50 Michael Kohler (TU Darmstadt, Germany)

    On the rate of convergence of an over-parametrized Transformer classifier learned by gradient descent

    Classification from independent and identically
    distributed random variables is considered.
    Classifiers based on over-parametrized
    transformer encoders are defined where
    all the weights are learned by gradient descent. Under suitable
    conditions on the a posteriori probability an upper bound on the
    rate of convergence of the difference of the misclassification
    probability of the estimate and the optimal misclassification probability
    is derived.

  • 19:00 Dinner
Friday, March 22, 2024
  • 08:30 – 09:00 Welcome coffee
  • 09:00 – 09:50 Enno Mammen (Heidelberg University, Germany)

    Local Limit Theorems and Strong Approximations for Robbins-Monro Procedures

    The Robbins-Monro algorithm is a recursive, simulation-based stochastic procedure to approximate the zeros of a function that can be written as an expectation. It is known that under some technical assumptions, Gaussian limit distributions approximate the stochastic performance of the algorithm. Here, we are interested in strong approximations for Robbins-Monro procedures. The main tool for getting them are local limit theorems, that is, studying the convergence of the density of the algorithm.
    The main idea of this talk is to study what can be obtained for the theory of Robbins-Monro procedures by using the parametrix method. The parametrix method is an approach for getting series expansions for the differences of transition densities of SDE’s with variable and with constant coefficients. We will apply parametrix expansions to compare transition densities of Robbins-Monro procedures and their diffusion limits. These bounds can be used to get total variation bounds on the multivariate densities of the Robbins-Monro procedures and the limiting diffusion processes, evaluated on an increasing grid of points. In particular, this allows strong approximations of Robbins-Monro procedures by the limiting diffusion processes. The talk reports on joint work with Valentin Konakov und Lorick Huang.

  • 10:00 – 10:50 Elisabeth Gassiat (Université Paris Saclay, France)Model-based Clustering using Non-parametric Hidden Markov ModelsThanks to their dependency structure, non-parametric Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) are able to handle model-based clustering without specifying group distributions. The aim of this work is to study the Bayes risk of clustering when using HMMs and to propose associated clustering procedures. We first give a result linking the Bayes risk of classification and the Bayes risk of clustering, which we use to identify the key quantity determining the difficulty of the clustering task. We also give a proof of this result in the i.i.d. framework, which might be of independent interest. Then we study the excess risk of the plugin classifier. All these results are shown to remain valid in the online setting where observations are clustered sequentially. Simulations illustrate our findings.
  • 11:00 – 11:30 Coffee break
  • 11:30 – 12:20 Thomas Mikosch (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

    Extreme value theory for heavy-tailed time series

    We will consider regularly varying time series. The name comes from the marginal tails which are of power-law type. Davis and Hsing (1995) and Basrak and Segers (2009) started the analysis of such sequences. They found an accompanying sequence (spectral tail process) which contains the information about the influence of extreme values on the future behavior of the time series, in particular on extremal clusters. Using the spectral tail process, it is possible to derive limit theory for maxima, sums, point processes… of regularly varying sequences, but also refined results like precise large deviation probabilities for these structures.
    In this talk we will give a short introduction to regularly varying sequences and and explain how the aforementioned limit results can be derived.

  • 12:20 Lunch break

The workshop is sponsored by the DFG Research Unit 5381