Discovering Multi-Purpose Modules through Deep Multitask Learning (2018)
Machine learning scientists aim to discover techniques that can be applied across diverse sets of problems. Such techniques need to exploit regularities that are shared across tasks. This begs the question: What shared regularity is not yet being exploited? Complex tasks may share structure that is difficult for humans to discover. The goal of deep multitask learning is to discover and exploit this structure automatically by training a joint model across tasks. To this end, this dissertation introduces a deep multitask learning framework for collecting generic functional modules that are used in different ways to solve different problems. Within this framework, a progression of systems is developed based on assembling shared modules into task models and leveraging the complementary advantages of gradient descent and evolutionary optimization. In experiments, these systems confirm that modular sharing improves performance across a range of application areas, including general video game playing, computer vision, natural language processing, and genomics; yielding state-of-the-art results in several cases. The conclusion is that multi-purpose modules discovered by deep multitask learning can exceed those developed by humans in performance and generality.
PhD Thesis, Department of Computer Science, The University of Texas at Austin, 2018.

Elliot Meyerson Ph.D. Alumni ekm [at] cs utexas edu