UAI 2005

21st Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence
Tutorial Program

July 26th-July 29th 2005

University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh, Scotland

As is traditional UAI organizes a one-day tutorial session at a nominal extra fee for conference registrants. The tutorial session can be attended by those not registered for the main conference at a slightly higher free. See the on-line registration page for details and to register.

The tutorial session will occur on July 26th, and will feature the following tutorials.

Computational Mechanism Design
Satinder Singh, University of Michigan

Mechanism design (MD) turns game theory on its head. It aims to develop protocols or rules of the game so that a desired outcome happens in a distributed system of self-interested agents. Computational MD brings together concepts of game-theoretic equilibria and truth-revelation from economics with the concepts of computational and communication tractability from computer science. In this tutorial, I will begin with a brief review of relevant background concepts from the game theory and auction literatures, and then spend the bulk of my time on

  1. foundational results on strategyproof mechanisms,
  2. the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves (VCG) mechanisms and their properties, and
  3. recent results in directions of interest to AI folks including extending mechanism design to sequential problems as well as adaptive mechanism design.

This tutorial is designed for a computer science audience and should be accessible to those with little exposure to game theory or economics.


Satinder Singh is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Prior to this he was a principal member of the technical staff in the AI group at AT&T labs, and prior to that he was an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has published extensively in the field of reinforcement learning and more recently has turned to computational game theory to understand multiagent systems, and to mechanism design to understand the role of incentives in designing multiagent systems.


Sensor Networks: Opportunities for UAI
Carlos Guestrin, Carnegie Mellon University

On-Line Tutorial Notes

Sensor networks consist of a collection of small low-cost devices that can sense and actuate in their environment, and communicate with each other through a wireless network. Recent advances in hardware and low-level software have made it possible for several real-world deployments to collect scientific and engineering data in unstructured environments. The long-term goal of sensor networks is to design systems that address significantly more complex applications, including fault detection in large-structures, such as bridges, building automation, smart environments, and management of disaster
rescue operations. Most of these future applications require the solution of complex data analysis, learning, and decision making tasks. Recent advancements in probabilistic AI algorithms and representations seek to solve such complex tasks, but sensor networks pose unique new challenges preventing such direct applications of existing methods: Resources, such as computation, communication and power, are usually scarce in low-cost wireless sensor networks. Furthermore, communication is usually unreliable, and nodes are prone to failures. In this tutorial, we will discuss these challenges, some current solutions, and mostly opportunities for fundamentally new AI algorithms that address the real issues arising in sensor networks.
The content is accessible to attendees with working knowledge of probabilistic methods in AI or in robotics.


Carlos Guestrin is an assistant professor in the Center for Automated Learning and Discovery and in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. Previously, he was a senior researcher at the Intel Research Lab in Berkeley. Carlos Guestrin received his MSc and PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University in 2000 and 2003, respectively, and a Mechatronics Engineer degree from the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, in 1998. His current research spans the areas of planning, reasoning and learning in uncertain dynamic environments, focusing on applications in sensor networks. Carlos Guestrin received the IPSN-2005, VLDB-2004 and NIPS-2003 best paper awards, the Siebel Scholarship, the Stanford Centennial Teaching Assistant Award, the Stanford School of Engineering Fellowship, and the FAPESP and CAPES Research Initiation Fellowships.


Non-parametric Bayesian methods
Zoubin Ghahramani, Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, University College London

On-Line Tutorial Notes


Bayesian methods provide a sound statistical framework for modelling and decision making. However, most simple parametric models are not realistic for modelling real-world data. Non-parametric models are much more flexible and therefore are much more likely to capture our beliefs about the data. They also often result in much better predictive performance.

I will give a survey/tutorial of the field of non-parametric Bayesian statistics from the perspective of machine learning. Topics will include:

  • The need for non-parametric models
  • Gaussian processes and their application to classification, regression, and other prediction problems
  • Chinese restaurant processes, different constructions, Pitman-Yor processes
  • Dirichlet processes, Dirichlet process mixtures, Hierarchical Dirichlet processes and infinite HMMs
  • Polya trees
  • Dirichlet diffusion trees
  • Time permitting, some new work on Indian buffet processes


Zoubin Ghahramani is a Reader in Machine Learning at the Gatsby Unit, University College London. He also has an appointment as Associate Research Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and holds honorary appointments in Department of Computer Science and in the Department of Psychology at UCL. His current research interests include  Bayesian approaches to machine learning, studying how biological systems control movement and integrate information from different senses, artificial intelligence, statistics, and bioinformatics.


Large-Margin Learning of Structured Prediction Models
Ben Taskar, Computer Science, UC Berkeley

On-Line Tutorial Notes


The scope of discriminative learning methods has been expanding to encompass prediction tasks with increasingly complex structure. Much of this development is based on extending classification techniques using graphical models to capture sequential, spatial, or relational structure. However, structured prediction involves a broader range of models, including recursive grammars and combinatorial models such as weighted cuts and matchings in graphs used in computational linguistics, biology and vision. For graphical models, two major approaches to discriminative estimation have been explored: (1) maximum conditional likelihood and (2) maximum margin. I will compare the benefits and limitations of the two approaches, and show the surprising fact that for a large class of structured models, the likelihood-based approach is intractable, but the margin-based approach yields tractable convex problems. I will discuss the unique computational challenges that arise in extending large margin methods to structured models and concentrate on novel solution algorithms using tools from convex and combinatorial optimization.

This tutorial assumes basic familiarity with supervised learning, graphical models and convex optimization.


Ben Taskar received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University working with Daphne Koller. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow with Michael Jordan at the Computer Science Division, University of California at Berkeley. One of his interests is structured model estimation in machine learning, especially in computational linguistics, computer vision and computational biology. Last year, he co-organized a NIPS workshop on this emerging topic. His work on structured prediction has received best paper awards at NIPS and EMNLP conferences.