The Tree Ensemble Layer: Differentiability meets Conditional Computation

Hussein Hazimeh, Natalia Ponomareva, Petros Mol, Zhenyu Tan, Rahul Mazumder
Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 119:4138-4148, 2020.

Abstract

Neural networks and tree ensembles are state-of-the-art learners, each with its unique statistical and computational advantages. We aim to combine these advantages by introducing a new layer for neural networks, composed of an ensemble of differentiable decision trees (a.k.a. soft trees). While differentiable trees demonstrate promising results in the literature, they are typically slow in training and inference as they do not support conditional computation. We mitigate this issue by introducing a new sparse activation function for sample routing, and implement true conditional computation by developing specialized forward and backward propagation algorithms that exploit sparsity. Our efficient algorithms pave the way for jointly training over deep and wide tree ensembles using first-order methods (e.g., SGD). Experiments on 23 classification datasets indicate over 10x speed-ups compared to the differentiable trees used in the literature and over 20x reduction in the number of parameters compared to gradient boosted trees, while maintaining competitive performance. Moreover, experiments on CIFAR, MNIST, and Fashion MNIST indicate that replacing dense layers in CNNs with our tree layer reduces the test loss by 7-53% and the number of parameters by 8x. We provide an open-source TensorFlow implementation with a Keras API.

Cite this Paper


BibTeX
@InProceedings{pmlr-v119-hazimeh20a, title = {The Tree Ensemble Layer: Differentiability meets Conditional Computation}, author = {Hazimeh, Hussein and Ponomareva, Natalia and Mol, Petros and Tan, Zhenyu and Mazumder, Rahul}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning}, pages = {4138--4148}, year = {2020}, editor = {III, Hal Daumé and Singh, Aarti}, volume = {119}, series = {Proceedings of Machine Learning Research}, month = {13--18 Jul}, publisher = {PMLR}, pdf = {http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/hazimeh20a/hazimeh20a.pdf}, url = {http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/hazimeh20a.html}, abstract = {Neural networks and tree ensembles are state-of-the-art learners, each with its unique statistical and computational advantages. We aim to combine these advantages by introducing a new layer for neural networks, composed of an ensemble of differentiable decision trees (a.k.a. soft trees). While differentiable trees demonstrate promising results in the literature, they are typically slow in training and inference as they do not support conditional computation. We mitigate this issue by introducing a new sparse activation function for sample routing, and implement true conditional computation by developing specialized forward and backward propagation algorithms that exploit sparsity. Our efficient algorithms pave the way for jointly training over deep and wide tree ensembles using first-order methods (e.g., SGD). Experiments on 23 classification datasets indicate over 10x speed-ups compared to the differentiable trees used in the literature and over 20x reduction in the number of parameters compared to gradient boosted trees, while maintaining competitive performance. Moreover, experiments on CIFAR, MNIST, and Fashion MNIST indicate that replacing dense layers in CNNs with our tree layer reduces the test loss by 7-53% and the number of parameters by 8x. We provide an open-source TensorFlow implementation with a Keras API.} }
Endnote
%0 Conference Paper %T The Tree Ensemble Layer: Differentiability meets Conditional Computation %A Hussein Hazimeh %A Natalia Ponomareva %A Petros Mol %A Zhenyu Tan %A Rahul Mazumder %B Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning %C Proceedings of Machine Learning Research %D 2020 %E Hal Daumé III %E Aarti Singh %F pmlr-v119-hazimeh20a %I PMLR %P 4138--4148 %U http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/hazimeh20a.html %V 119 %X Neural networks and tree ensembles are state-of-the-art learners, each with its unique statistical and computational advantages. We aim to combine these advantages by introducing a new layer for neural networks, composed of an ensemble of differentiable decision trees (a.k.a. soft trees). While differentiable trees demonstrate promising results in the literature, they are typically slow in training and inference as they do not support conditional computation. We mitigate this issue by introducing a new sparse activation function for sample routing, and implement true conditional computation by developing specialized forward and backward propagation algorithms that exploit sparsity. Our efficient algorithms pave the way for jointly training over deep and wide tree ensembles using first-order methods (e.g., SGD). Experiments on 23 classification datasets indicate over 10x speed-ups compared to the differentiable trees used in the literature and over 20x reduction in the number of parameters compared to gradient boosted trees, while maintaining competitive performance. Moreover, experiments on CIFAR, MNIST, and Fashion MNIST indicate that replacing dense layers in CNNs with our tree layer reduces the test loss by 7-53% and the number of parameters by 8x. We provide an open-source TensorFlow implementation with a Keras API.
APA
Hazimeh, H., Ponomareva, N., Mol, P., Tan, Z. & Mazumder, R.. (2020). The Tree Ensemble Layer: Differentiability meets Conditional Computation. Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning, in Proceedings of Machine Learning Research 119:4138-4148 Available from http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/hazimeh20a.html.

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