Department of
Knowledge Engineering

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SIKS-DKE Colloquia**

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201****2**

Monday, 10 December, 2012, 16:00-17:00

Dr. Ziv Hellman, Tel Aviv University, Israel.

Title: Bayesian Games over Continuum States

__Abstract:
__
We present an example of a Bayesian game with a continuum of states that
possesses no Bayesian approximate equilibria, resolving an open question since
Simon (2003) showed the existence of a game with no Bayesian exact equilibria.
To achieve this we show a close relationship between strategic considerations in
overlapping generations games and certain Bayesian games. The result naturally
leads to the question of necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence
of Bayesian equilibria in games with a continuum of states, a question that will
also be resolved in the talk, time permitting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 11:00-12:00

Dr. Nathan Sturtevan, University of Denver

Title: Parallelizing External Memory Search

__Abstract:
__
In this
talk we look in detail at several forms of external memory search and how they
have been run in parallel. In addition to comparing metrics provided in research
papers, we also describe our new approach which minimizes writes in external
memory search. We describe the parallel performance of the approach, and provide
the details of performing several breadth-first searches of the single-agent
Chinese Checkers game, which has 1.88x10^12 states.

Thursday, November 22, 2012, 16:00-17:00

Dr. Marc Lanctot, Department of Knowledge Engineering, Maastricht
University.

Title: Monte-Carlo Sampling & Regret Minimization for Equilibrium Computation
and Decision-Making in Large Extensive-Form Games

__Abstract:
__
In this talk I will give an overview of my Ph.D.
research work at the

We thoroughly evaluate our algorithms in practice
using several different domains and sampling strategies. I will conclude the
talk by outlining potential future research projects.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 11:00-12:00**
Abdallah Saffidin**,
LAMSADE, Université Paris-Dauphine, France

Title: Alpha-beta pruning for games with simultaneous moves (joint work with Hilmar Finnsson and Michael Buro)

September 28, 2012, 13:30-14:30.

Dr.
Damien Ernst,
University of Liège

Title: Meta-learning for exploration-exploitation strategies in reinforcement

__Abstract:
__
In this talk, I will present a
meta-learning approach for learning exploration-exploitation (E/E) strategies in
reinforcement learning. This approach supposes that prior information is
available on the E/E problem to be played and works as follows (i) it models
prior knowledge in the form of a probability distribution over the target class
of E/E problems; (ii) it chooses a large hypothesis space of candidate E/E
strategies; and (iii), it solves an optimization problem to find a candidate E/E
strategy of maximal average performance over a sample of problems drawn from the
prior distribution.

I will illustrate this meta-learning approach on
different types of E/E problems and for two different hypothesis spaces: one
where E/E strategies are numerically parameterized and another where E/E
strategies are represented as small symbolic formulas.

I will discuss results that show that this
meta-learning approach achieves systematically better results than
state-of-the-art E/E strategies published in the literature.

July 20, 2012,
11:00-12:00

Prof. Dr.
Reuven Rubinstein,
Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Technion, Israel Institute of Technology,
Haifa, Israel

Title: The Splitting Method

__Abstract:
__
We present a generic randomized
algorithm, called the splitting or cloning algorithm, for combinatorial
optimization, counting and sampling uniformly on complex sets, such as the set
defined by the constraints of an integer program. Similar to the original
classic randomized algorithms our one uses a sequential sampling plan to
decompose a "difficult" problem into a sequence of easy ones. It presents, in
fact, a combination of MCMC (Markov Chain Monte Carlo), like the Gibbs sampler,
with a specially designed cloning mechanism. The latter runs in parallel
multiple Markov chains by making sure that all of them run in steady-state at
each iteration.

July 11, 2012, 16:00-17:00**
Tom J. de Jong**, Institute Biology, Leiden University

Title: Games Plants Play

Friday, July 6, 2012, 13:00-14:00

Peter Reutemann, Waikato ML group, Hamilton, New Zealand

Title: Real-world workflow applications

__Abstract:
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Building applications with
predictive models on real-world data can be a complex task, due to noisy and/or
multidimensional data. Using a workflow approach allows the
professional/researcher to keep an overview of all the required pre-processing
steps and models in use.

But not all workflow engines are alike. Most engines
nowadays follow the "canvas" approach, with the user placing operators on a
large canvas and then connecting them manually, determining how the data flows.
Despite being rather intuitive, this approach gets tedious once one develops
flows beyond a few tens of operators. ADAMS, short for Advanced Data mining And
Machine learning System, uses a layout technique with implicit data flow
instead. This frees the user from having to connect operators, resulting in
rapid workflow development and a very compact layout, which easily scales up to
several thousand operators. In my talk I will present the ADAMS system, what
sets it apart from other workflow engines, where its strengths and weaknesses
are and also present some of its applications currently in operation.

Friday, July 6, 2012, 14:30-15:30

Sander M. Bohte, NeuroInformatics Lab, Life Sciences Group, CWI Amsterdam

Title: Efficient Coding in Spiking Neural Networks

__Abstract:
__
Where biological neurons communicate via fast electrical pulses, it is still
unclear how information is encoded in these pulses. We propose a simple model of
dynamical neural coding with spiking neurons, which is consistent with 1)
biologically realistic spiking neuron models 2) key experimental data and 3)
maximizes information transmission. Since neural coding is central to neural
information processing, the framework allows for efficient and continuous analog
computation with networks of spiking neurons. Possible applications of such
networks are continuous-time computations like dynamical control, for instance
in cognitive robotics.

Monday, June 25, 2012, 15:30-16:30**
Nikos Vlassis**, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine, University of
Luxembourg.

Title: Stochastic POMDP controllers: Their computational properties and potential applications in biology.

Nikos Vlassis received a diploma and a PhD from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. From 2000 until 2006 he was faculty at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, and from 2007 until 2010 he was faculty at the Technical University of Crete. Currently he is PI at the Luxembourg Center for Systems Biomedicine. His research interests are in Machine Learning and Bioinformatics.

June 14, 2012, 16:00-17:00**
Michael Johanson**, Department of Computing Science, University of Alberta,
Edmonton, Canada

Title: Achieving Professional-Level Strength in Computer Poker

May 30, 2012, 15:30-16:30**
Matthew E. Taylor**, Lafayette College, Department of Computer Science

Title: Real-Life Learning Agents

have full knowledge of agents' future environments or when the agents' environment may change over time. This talk will discuss recent work in combining autonomous learning of sequential decision making tasks with transfer learning, a general approach to sharing knowledge

between agents with different capabilities, resulting in significant improvements to learning speeds and abilities.

Matthew E. Taylor graduated magna cum laude with a double major in computer science and physics from Amherst College in 2001. After working for two years as a software developer, he began his Ph.D. with a MCD fellowship from the College of Natural Sciences. He received his doctorate from the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin in the summer of 2008, supervised by Peter Stone.

Matt recently completed a two year postdoctoral research position at the University of Southern California with Milind Tambe and is now an assistant professor at Lafayette College in the computer science department. His current research interests include intelligent agents,

multi-agent systems, reinforcement learning, and transfer learning.

May 9, 2012, 16:00-17:00

Ruben van der Zwaan, Maastricht University

Title: Intentions matter

__Abstract:
__
Everyone uses a search engine to find information on
the internet. Despite rapid advances in relating keywords to relevant pages,
ordering the results remains difficult. People have different intentions when
searching, even if they use the exact same keyword! The keyword itself can be
ambiguous, people expect different results. For example, when searching for
``Maastricht'' both the municipality and the tourist information website are
highly relevant. However, as a tourist the municipality information is less
interesting but to a local it is relevant. Another difference is the quantity of
results: for research one needs many results, but for navigational purposes a
single result suffices.

To see why ordering results merely based on their
significance to the majority can lead to bad orderings, consider the following
example. What is the first thought about ``lion''? Among other things, Lion can
refer to the following: the name of the recent operating system for Apple
computers; the species; a shop for beds; it is an acronym for Leiden Institute
of Physics. If we only consider the intent the majority has when searching for
``lion'', probably results for the operating system and the species dominate the
first few pages of search results.

Our goal is to find, for a given keyword, an ordering
of relevant pages that minimizes the average effort of ALL users.

This combinatorial problem can be elegantly stated and
is related to other well-known problems. Unfortunately it is very unlikely that
there exists an efficient algorithm that finds the optimal ordering since the
problem is NP-hard. I will present an efficient and intuitive method that finds
in polynomial time an ordering that is at most a constant factor worse than the
optimal ordering.

April 18, 2012, 15:00-16:00

Michael Siek, Delft University of Technology and Unesco-Ihe

Title: Chaotic Behavior: From Self-Similarity To Prediction

__Abstract:
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Chaos theory has become an important
field of study in mathematics for understanding and modeling complex
dynamical systems, with many areas of applications, including: engineering,
biology, economics, geophysics and psychology. Methods in chaos theory have
been significantly enhanced with considerable emergent research since Edward
Lorenz made a discovery in 1963 during his experiments with a simplified
atmospheric model. He discovered the sensitivity to initial conditions that
lead to chaos theory or butterfly effect.

Behavior in a complex dynamical system appears irregular or unpredictable
but is actually deterministic. Nowadays, a large number of dynamical systems
are discovered to behave in chaotic manners, whereas previously these
systems were believed to act randomly. Much of what one calls coincidence or
chance is actually chaos, for example rolling a pair of dice. The dynamical
systems characterized by deterministic chaos are predictable. If one can
control chaos, with just a little bit of mathematics, everything can be
controllable.

Several case studies, like storm surge dynamics in the North Sea have been
explored to reveal the chaotic model predictability. The model exploits the
dynamical neighbors (self-similarity) found in the higher-dimension of the
reconstructed phase space as the main control for prediction. The
self-similarity here is identified as similar storm surge patterns or
developments in the past. A number of additional features can be
incorporated into a chaotic model to enhance its predictability, i.e. the
use of a data assimilation technique or ensemble chaotic models. The
modeling results show that the predictive chaotic model outperforms the
other machine learning techniques, like neural network models. This
demonstrates that the modeling technique based on chaos theory can serve as
an efficient tool for accurate and reliable short and mid-term predictions.

March 27, 2012, 13:30-14:30

Eduardo F. Morales, Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y
Electrónica (INAOE), Mexico

Title: Teaching a Robot How to Perform New Tasks Though Demonstrations and
Feedback

__Abstract:
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Service robots are rapidly expanding and soon
will become part of our everyday life. To personalize service robots to the
user's needs, robots will have to learn new tasks according to the preferences
of the users who will have to teach them in natural and accessible ways.

In this talk, we will show how to teach a robot a new
task using simple demonstrations and voice feedback. We consider three
demonstrations modes: (i) controlling a robot with a joystick, (ii) instructing
the robot with voice, and (iii) executing the task while the robot is watching
with a Kinect sensor. Demonstrations provide an initial guidance and focus the
search space and are followed by a reinforcement learning process to improve
over the original sequences performed by the user. The low-level sensor
information of the user's demonstration is transformed into a more abstracted
representation to allow the system to learn general control policies applicable
to different instances of the task. During the learning process the user can
provide on-line feedback in the form of actions or qualifiers over the
performance of the robot, which are translated into additional rewards to
provide additional guidance. The effectiveness of the proposed approach is shown
on simulation and real robots for simple navigation tasks and for a
pick-and-place task.

March 7, 2012, 15:30

Johan Kwisthout, Radboud University, Faculty of Science, Nijmegen

Parameterized Complexity Analysis - A New and Powerful Tool in the Cognitive
Scientist's Toolbox

__Abstract:
__
Many
computational models of cognition - like models of intention recognition, action
planning, or problem solving - are based on Bayesian abduction: determining the
most probable explanation for what is observed. These models often perform well
in experimental settings, yet face the theoretical problem of intractability:
Bayesian abduction is in general NP-hard, meaning that such models cannot serve
as computationally and psychologically plausible explanations of the tasks and
processes which they model. Proponents of such Bayesian models often assume
approximation, fast-and-frugal heuristics, or similar means to speed up
computation.

Alas, approximate Bayesian inference happens to be NP-hard as well. A better
approach would be to identify the sources of complexity of the model using a
parameterized complexity analysis. In this talk, based on recent work with Iris
van Rooij, Todd Wareham, and Mark Blokpoel, I will show how parameterized
complexity analyses can aid the Cognitive Scientist, both in identifying
constraints that - when met - render these models tractable, and in generating
empirically testable hypotheses that predict under which circumstances human
cognitive performance will deteriorate. In short: I will advocate that
parameterized complexity analyses are as powerful for a Cognitive Scientist as
water pump pliers are for a plumber.