Portrait of Ioannis Mitliagkas

Ioannis Mitliagkas

Core Academic Member
Canada CIFAR AI Chair
Associate Professor, Université de Montréal, Department of Computer Science and Operations Research


I am an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Operations Research (DIRO) at Université de Montréal, as well as a core academic member of Mila – Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute and a Canada CIFAR AI Chair. I hold a part-time position as a staff research scientist at Google DeepMind Montréal.

Previously, I was a postdoctoral scholar in the departments of statistics and computer science at Stanford University. I obtained my PhD from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

My research interests lie in statistical learning and inference, with a focus on optimization, efficient large-scale and distributed algorithms, statistical learning theory and MCMC methods. My recent research has focused on methods for efficient and adaptive optimization, understanding the interaction between optimization and the dynamics of large-scale learning systems, and the dynamics of games.

Current Students

PhD - Université de Montréal
Co-supervisor :
Research Intern - Université de Montréal
PhD - Université de Montréal
PhD - Université de Montréal
Postdoctorate - McGill University
Principal supervisor :
Master's Research - Université de Montréal
Principal supervisor :
PhD - Université de Montréal
Co-supervisor :
PhD - Université de Montréal
Principal supervisor :


Gradient descent induces alignment between weights and the empirical NTK for deep non-linear networks
Daniel Beaglehole
Atish Agarwala
Empirical Analysis of Model Selection for Heterogeneous Causal Effect Estimation
Divyat Mahajan
Brady Neal
Vasilis Syrgkanis
Stochastic Mirror Descent: Convergence Analysis and Adaptive Variants via the Mirror Stochastic Polyak Stepsize
Ryan D'Orazio
Nicolas Loizou
Issam Hadj Laradji
We investigate the convergence of stochastic mirror descent (SMD) under interpolation in relatively smooth and smooth convex optimization. I… (see more)n relatively smooth convex optimization we provide new convergence guarantees for SMD with a constant stepsize. For smooth convex optimization we propose a new adaptive stepsize scheme --- the mirror stochastic Polyak stepsize (mSPS). Notably, our convergence results in both settings do not make bounded gradient assumptions or bounded variance assumptions, and we show convergence to a neighborhood that vanishes under interpolation. Consequently, these results correspond to the first convergence guarantees under interpolation for the exponentiated gradient algorithm for fixed or adaptive stepsizes. mSPS generalizes the recently proposed stochastic Polyak stepsize (SPS) (Loizou et al. 2021) to mirror descent and remains both practical and efficient for modern machine learning applications while inheriting the benefits of mirror descent. We complement our results with experiments across various supervised learning tasks and different instances of SMD, demonstrating the effectiveness of mSPS.
Additive Decoders for Latent Variables Identification and Cartesian-Product Extrapolation
Sébastien Lachapelle
Divyat Mahajan
We tackle the problems of latent variables identification and "out-of-support'' image generation in representation learning. We show that bo… (see more)th are possible for a class of decoders that we call additive, which are reminiscent of decoders used for object-centric representation learning (OCRL) and well suited for images that can be decomposed as a sum of object-specific images. We provide conditions under which exactly solving the reconstruction problem using an additive decoder is guaranteed to identify the blocks of latent variables up to permutation and block-wise invertible transformations. This guarantee relies only on very weak assumptions about the distribution of the latent factors, which might present statistical dependencies and have an almost arbitrarily shaped support. Our result provides a new setting where nonlinear independent component analysis (ICA) is possible and adds to our theoretical understanding of OCRL methods. We also show theoretically that additive decoders can generate novel images by recombining observed factors of variations in novel ways, an ability we refer to as Cartesian-product extrapolation. We show empirically that additivity is crucial for both identifiability and extrapolation on simulated data.
CADet: Fully Self-Supervised Out-Of-Distribution Detection With Contrastive Learning
Charles Guille-Escuret
Pau Rodriguez
David Vazquez
Joao Monteiro
Expecting The Unexpected: Towards Broad Out-Of-Distribution Detection
Charles Guille-Escuret
Pierre-Andre Noel
David Vazquez
Joao Monteiro
Improving the reliability of deployed machine learning systems often involves developing methods to detect out-of-distribution (OOD) inputs.… (see more) However, existing research often narrowly focuses on samples from classes that are absent from the training set, neglecting other types of plausible distribution shifts. This limitation reduces the applicability of these methods in real-world scenarios, where systems encounter a wide variety of anomalous inputs. In this study, we categorize five distinct types of distribution shifts and critically evaluate the performance of recent OOD detection methods on each of them. We publicly release our benchmark under the name BROAD (Benchmarking Resilience Over Anomaly Diversity). Our findings reveal that while these methods excel in detecting unknown classes, their performance is inconsistent when encountering other types of distribution shifts. In other words, they only reliably detect unexpected inputs that they have been specifically designed to expect. As a first step toward broad OOD detection, we learn a generative model of existing detection scores with a Gaussian mixture. By doing so, we present an ensemble approach that offers a more consistent and comprehensive solution for broad OOD detection, demonstrating superior performance compared to existing methods. Our code to download BROAD and reproduce our experiments is publicly available.
Towards Out-of-Distribution Adversarial Robustness
Adam Ibrahim
Charles Guille-Escuret
Adversarial robustness continues to be a major challenge for deep learning. A core issue is that robustness to one type of attack often fail… (see more)s to transfer to other attacks. While prior work establishes a theoretical trade-off in robustness against different
No Wrong Turns: The Simple Geometry Of Neural Networks Optimization Paths
Charles Guille-Escuret
Hiroki Naganuma
Understanding the optimization dynamics of neural networks is necessary for closing the gap between theory and practice. Stochastic first-or… (see more)der optimization algorithms are known to efficiently locate favorable minima in deep neural networks. This efficiency, however, contrasts with the non-convex and seemingly complex structure of neural loss landscapes. In this study, we delve into the fundamental geometric properties of sampled gradients along optimization paths. We focus on two key quantities, which appear in the restricted secant inequality and error bound. Both hold high significance for first-order optimization. Our analysis reveals that these quantities exhibit predictable, consistent behavior throughout training, despite the stochasticity induced by sampling minibatches. Our findings suggest that not only do optimization trajectories never encounter significant obstacles, but they also maintain stable dynamics during the majority of training. These observed properties are sufficiently expressive to theoretically guarantee linear convergence and prescribe learning rate schedules mirroring empirical practices. We conduct our experiments on image classification, semantic segmentation and language modeling across different batch sizes, network architectures, datasets, optimizers, and initialization seeds. We discuss the impact of each factor. Our work provides novel insights into the properties of neural network loss functions, and opens the door to theoretical frameworks more relevant to prevalent practice.
Empirical Study on Optimizer Selection for Out-of-Distribution Generalization
Hiroki Naganuma
Kartik Ahuja
Shiro Takagi
Tetsuya Motokawa
Rio Yokota
Kohta Ishikawa
Ikuro Sato
Modern deep learning systems do not generalize well when the test data distribution is slightly different to the training data distribution.… (see more) While much promising work has been accomplished to address this fragility, a systematic study of the role of optimizers and their out-of-distribution generalization performance has not been undertaken. In this study, we examine the performance of popular first-order optimizers for different classes of distributional shift under empirical risk minimization and invariant risk minimization. We address this question for image and text classification using DomainBed, WILDS, and Backgrounds Challenge as testbeds for studying different types of shifts---namely correlation and diversity shift. We search over a wide range of hyperparameters and examine classification accuracy (in-distribution and out-of-distribution) for over 20,000 models. We arrive at the following findings, which we expect to be helpful for practitioners: i) adaptive optimizers (e.g., Adam) perform worse than non-adaptive optimizers (e.g., SGD, momentum SGD) on out-of-distribution performance. In particular, even though there is no significant difference in in-distribution performance, we show a measurable difference in out-of-distribution performance. ii) in-distribution performance and out-of-distribution performance exhibit three types of behavior depending on the dataset---linear returns, increasing returns, and diminishing returns. For example, in the training of natural language data using Adam, fine-tuning the performance of in-distribution performance does not significantly contribute to the out-of-distribution generalization performance.
LEAD: Min-Max Optimization from a Physical Perspective
Reyhane Askari Hemmat
Amartya Mitra
Adversarial formulations have rekindled interest in two-player min-max games. A central obstacle in the optimization of such games is the ro… (see more)tational dynamics that hinder their convergence. In this paper, we show that game optimization shares dynamic properties with particle systems subject to multiple forces, and one can leverage tools from physics to improve optimization dynamics. Inspired by the physical framework, we propose LEAD, an optimizer for min-max games. Next, using Lyapunov stability theory from dynamical systems as well as spectral analysis, we study LEAD’s convergence properties in continuous and discrete time settings for a class of quadratic min-max games to demonstrate linear convergence to the Nash equilibrium. Finally, we empirically evaluate our method on synthetic setups and CIFAR-10 image generation to demonstrate improvements in GAN training.
A Reproducible and Realistic Evaluation of Partial Domain Adaptation Methods
Tiago Salvador
Unsupervised Domain Adaptation (UDA) aims at classifying unlabeled target images leveraging source labeled ones. In the case of an extreme l… (see more)abel shift scenario between the source and target domains, where we have extra source classes not present in the target domain, the UDA problem becomes a harder problem called Partial Domain Adaptation (PDA). While different methods have been developed to solve the PDA problem, most successful algorithms use model selection strategies that rely on target labels to find the best hyper-parameters and/or models along training. These strategies violate the main assumption in PDA: only unlabeled target domain samples are available. In addition, there are also experimental inconsistencies between developed methods - different architectures, hyper-parameter tuning, number of runs - yielding unfair comparisons. The main goal of this work is to provide a realistic evaluation of PDA methods under different model selection strategies and a consistent evaluation protocol. We evaluate 6 state-of-the-art PDA algorithms on 2 different real-world datasets using 7 different model selection strategies. Our two main findings are: (i) without target labels for model selection, the accuracy of the methods decreases up to 30 percentage points; (ii) only one method and model selection pair performs well on both datasets. Experiments were performed with our PyTorch framework, BenchmarkPDA, which we open source.
Neural Networks Efficiently Learn Low-Dimensional Representations with SGD
Alireza Mousavi-Hosseini
Sejun Park
Manuela Girotti
Murat A Erdogdu
We study the problem of training a two-layer neural network (NN) of arbitrary width using stochastic gradient descent (SGD) where the input …