## Welcome to the Biomedical Informatics Lab of Prof. Dr. Gunnar Rätsch

The research in our group lies at the interface between methods research in Machine Learning, Genomics and Medical Informatics and relevant applications in biology and medicine.

We develop new analysis techniques that are capable of dealing with large amounts of medical and genomic data. These techniques aim to provide accurate predictions on the phenomenon at hand and to comprehensibly provide reasons for their prognoses, and thereby assist in gaining new biomedical insights.

Current research includes a) Machine Learning related to time-series analysis and iterative optimization algorithms, b) methods for transcriptome analyses to study transcriptome alterations in cancer, c) developing clinical decision support systems, in particular, for time series data from intensive care units, d) new graph genome algorithms to store and analyze very large sets of genomic sequences, and e) developing methods and resources for international sharing of genomic and clinical data, for instance, about variants in BRCA1/2.

#### Francesco Locatello, Alp Yurtsever, Olivier Fercoq, Volkan Cevher Stochastic Conditional Gradient Method for Composite Convex Minimization NeurIPS 2019

Abstract In this paper, we propose the first practical algorithm to minimize stochastic composite optimization problems over compact convex sets. This template allows for affine constraints and therefore covers stochastic semidefinite programs (SDPs), which are vastly applicable in both machine learning and statistics. In this setup, stochastic algorithms with convergence guarantees are either not known or not tractable. We tackle this general problem and propose a convergent, easy to implement and tractable algorithm. We prove $\mathcal{O}(k^{-1/3})$ convergence rate in expectation on the objective residual and $\mathcal{O}(k^{-5/12})$ in expectation on the feasibility gap. These rates are achieved without increasing the batchsize, which can contain a single sample. We present extensive empirical evidence demonstrating the superiority of our algorithm on a broad range of applications including optimization of stochastic SDPs.

Authors Francesco Locatello, Alp Yurtsever, Olivier Fercoq, Volkan Cevher

Submitted NeurIPS 2019

#### Sjoerd van Steenkiste, Francesco Locatello, Jürgen Schmidhuber, Olivier Bachem Are Disentangled Representations Helpful for Abstract Visual Reasoning? NeurIPS 2019

Abstract A disentangled representation encodes information about the salient factors of variation in the data independently. Although it is often argued that this representational format is useful in learning to solve many real-world up-stream tasks, there is little empirical evidence that supports this claim. In this paper, we conduct a large-scale study that investigates whether disentangled representations are more suitable for abstract reasoning tasks. Using two new tasks similar to Raven's Progressive Matrices, we evaluate the usefulness of the representations learned by 360 state-of-the-art unsupervised disentanglement models. Based on these representations, we train 3600 abstract reasoning models and observe that disentangled representations do in fact lead to better up-stream performance. In particular, they appear to enable quicker learning using fewer samples.

Authors Sjoerd van Steenkiste, Francesco Locatello, Jürgen Schmidhuber, Olivier Bachem

Submitted NeurIPS 2019

#### Francesco Locatello, Gabriele Abbati, Tom Rainforth, Stefan Bauer, Bernhard Schölkopf, Olivier Bachem On the Fairness of Disentangled Representations NeurIPS 2019

Abstract Recently there has been a significant interest in learning disentangled representations, as they promise increased interpretability, generalization to unseen scenarios and faster learning on downstream tasks. In this paper, we investigate the usefulness of different notions of disentanglement for improving the fairness of downstream prediction tasks based on representations. We consider the setting where the goal is to predict a target variable based on the learned representation of high-dimensional observations (such as images) that depend on both the target variable and an unobserved sensitive variable. We show that in this setting both the optimal and empirical predictions can be unfair, even if the target variable and the sensitive variable are independent. Analyzing more than 12600 trained representations of state-of-the-art disentangled models, we observe that various disentanglement scores are consistently correlated with increased fairness, suggesting that disentanglement may be a useful property to encourage fairness when sensitive variables are not observed.

Authors Francesco Locatello, Gabriele Abbati, Tom Rainforth, Stefan Bauer, Bernhard Schölkopf, Olivier Bachem

Submitted NeurIPS 2019

#### Muhammad Waleed Gondal, Manuel Wüthrich, Đorđe Miladinović, Francesco Locatello, Martin Breidt, Valentin Volchkov, Joel Akpo, Olivier Bachem, Bernhard Schölkopf, Stefan Bauer On the Transfer of Inductive Bias from Simulation to the Real World: a New Disentanglement Dataset NeurIPS 2019

Abstract Learning meaningful and compact representations with structurally disentangled semantic aspects is considered to be of key importance in representation learning. Since real-world data is notoriously costly to collect, many recent state-of-the-art disentanglement models have heavily relied on synthetic toy data-sets. In this paper, we propose a novel data-set which consists of over 450'000 images of physical 3D objects with seven factors of variation, such as object color, shape, size and position. In order to be able to control all the factors of variation precisely, we built an experimental platform where the objects are being moved by a robotic arm. In addition, we provide two more datasets which consist of simulations of the experimental setup. These datasets provide for the first time the possibility to systematically investigate how well different disentanglement methods perform on real data in comparison to simulation, and how simulated data can be leveraged to build better representations of the real world.

Authors Muhammad Waleed Gondal, Manuel Wüthrich, Đorđe Miladinović, Francesco Locatello, Martin Breidt, Valentin Volchkov, Joel Akpo, Olivier Bachem, Bernhard Schölkopf, Stefan Bauer

Submitted NeurIPS 2019

#### Vincent Fortuin, Gunnar Rätsch, Stephan Mandt Multivariate Time Series Imputation with Variational Autoencoders arXiv Preprints

Abstract Multivariate time series with missing values are common in many areas, for instance in healthcare and finance. To face this problem, modern data imputation approaches should (a) be tailored to sequential data, (b) deal with high dimensional and complex data distributions, and (c) be based on the probabilistic modeling paradigm for interpretability and confidence assessment. However, many current approaches fall short in at least one of these aspects. Drawing on advances in deep learning and scalable probabilistic modeling, we propose a new deep sequential variational autoencoder approach for dimensionality reduction and data imputation. Temporal dependencies are modeled with a Gaussian process prior and a Cauchy kernel to reflect multi-scale dynamics in the latent space. We furthermore use a structured variational inference distribution that improves the scalability of the approach. We demonstrate that our model exhibits superior imputation performance on benchmark tasks and challenging real-world medical data.

Authors Vincent Fortuin, Gunnar Rätsch, Stephan Mandt

Submitted arXiv Preprints

Date 12 Jun 2019

Date 24 Apr 2019

Date 10 Jan 2019