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Detecting Propaganda Bots on Twitter Using Machine Learning

Description

Propaganda bots are malicious bots on Twitter that spread divisive opinions and support political accounts. This project is based on detecting propaganda bots on Twitter using machine learning. Once I began to observe patterns within propaganda followers on

Propaganda bots are malicious bots on Twitter that spread divisive opinions and support political accounts. This project is based on detecting propaganda bots on Twitter using machine learning. Once I began to observe patterns within propaganda followers on Twitter, I determined that I could train algorithms to detect these bots. The paper focuses on my development and process of training classifiers and using them to create a user-facing server that performs prediction functions automatically. The learning goals of this project were detailed, the focus of which was to learn some form of machine learning architecture. I needed to learn some aspect of large data handling, as well as being able to maintain these datasets for training use. I also needed to develop a server that would execute these functionalities on command. I wanted to be able to design a full-stack system that allowed me to create every aspect of a user-facing server that can execute predictions using the classifiers that I design.
Throughout this project, I decided on a number of learning goals to consider it a success. I needed to learn how to use the supporting libraries that would help me to design this system. I also learned how to use the Twitter API, as well as create the infrastructure behind it that would allow me to collect large amounts of data for machine learning. I needed to become familiar with common machine learning libraries in Python in order to create the necessary algorithms and pipelines to make predictions based on Twitter data.
This paper details the steps and decisions needed to determine how to collect this data and apply it to machine learning algorithms. I determined how to create labelled data using pre-existing Botometer ratings, and the levels of confidence I needed to label data for training. I use the scikit-learn library to create these algorithms to best detect these bots. I used a number of pre-processing routines to refine the classifiers’ precision, including natural language processing and data analysis techniques. I eventually move to remotely-hosted versions of the system on Amazon web instances to collect larger amounts of data and train more advanced classifiers. This leads to the details of my final implementation of a user-facing server, hosted on AWS and interfacing over Gmail’s IMAP server.
The current and future development of this system is laid out. This includes more advanced classifiers, better data analysis, conversions to third party Twitter data collection systems, and user features. I detail what it is I have learned from this exercise, and what it is I hope to continue working on.

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Date Created
2019-05

Deep Periodic Networks

Description

In the field of machine learning, reinforcement learning stands out for its ability to explore approaches to complex, high dimensional problems that outperform even expert humans. For robotic locomotion tasks reinforcement learning provides an approach to solving them without the

In the field of machine learning, reinforcement learning stands out for its ability to explore approaches to complex, high dimensional problems that outperform even expert humans. For robotic locomotion tasks reinforcement learning provides an approach to solving them without the need for unique controllers. In this thesis, two reinforcement learning algorithms, Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient and Group Factor Policy Search are compared based upon their performance in the bipedal walking environment provided by OpenAI gym. These algorithms are evaluated on their performance in the environment and their sample efficiency.

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Date Created
2018-12

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Comparative Analysis in Acquisition of Coding Skills

Description

Students learn in various ways \u2014 visualization, auditory, memorizing, or making analogies. Traditional lecturing in engineering courses and the learning styles of engineering students are inharmonious causing students to be at a disadvantage based on their learning style (Felder &

Students learn in various ways \u2014 visualization, auditory, memorizing, or making analogies. Traditional lecturing in engineering courses and the learning styles of engineering students are inharmonious causing students to be at a disadvantage based on their learning style (Felder & Silverman, 1988). My study analyzes the traditional approach to learning coding skills which is unnatural to engineering students with no previous exposure and examining if visual learning enhances introductory computer science education. Visual and text-based learning are evaluated to determine how students learn introductory coding skills and associated problem solving skills. My study was conducted to observe how the two types of learning aid the students in learning how to problem solve as well as how much knowledge can be obtained in a short period of time. The application used for visual learning was Scratch and Repl.it was used for text-based learning. Two exams were made to measure the progress made by each student. The topics covered by the exam were initialization, variable reassignment, output, if statements, if else statements, nested if statements, logical operators, arrays/lists, while loop, type casting, functions, object orientation, and sorting. Analysis of the data collected in the study allow us to observe whether the traditional method of teaching programming or block-based programming is more beneficial and in what topics of introductory computer science concepts.

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2018-05

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Moving Target Defense: Defending against Adversarial Defense

Description

A defense-by-randomization framework is proposed as an effective defense mechanism against different types of adversarial attacks on neural networks. Experiments were conducted by selecting a combination of differently constructed image classification neural networks to observe which combinations applied to this

A defense-by-randomization framework is proposed as an effective defense mechanism against different types of adversarial attacks on neural networks. Experiments were conducted by selecting a combination of differently constructed image classification neural networks to observe which combinations applied to this framework were most effective in maximizing classification accuracy. Furthermore, the reasons why particular combinations were more effective than others is explored.

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Date Created
2019-05

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Sample-Efficient Reinforcement Learning of Robot Control Policies in the Real World

Description

The goal of reinforcement learning is to enable systems to autonomously solve tasks in the real world, even in the absence of prior data. To succeed in such situations, reinforcement learning algorithms collect new experience through interactions with the environment

The goal of reinforcement learning is to enable systems to autonomously solve tasks in the real world, even in the absence of prior data. To succeed in such situations, reinforcement learning algorithms collect new experience through interactions with the environment to further the learning process. The behaviour is optimized by maximizing a reward function, which assigns high numerical values to desired behaviours. Especially in robotics, such interactions with the environment are expensive in terms of the required execution time, human involvement, and mechanical degradation of the system itself. Therefore, this thesis aims to introduce sample-efficient reinforcement learning methods which are applicable to real-world settings and control tasks such as bimanual manipulation and locomotion. Sample efficiency is achieved through directed exploration, either by using dimensionality reduction or trajectory optimization methods. Finally, it is demonstrated how data-efficient reinforcement learning methods can be used to optimize the behaviour and morphology of robots at the same time.

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Date Created
2019

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Asymmetric Error Control for Classification in Medical Disease Diagnosis

Description

In classification applications, such as medical disease diagnosis, the cost of one type of error (false negative) could greatly outweigh the other (false positive) enabling the need of asymmetric error control. Due to this unique nature of the problem, traditional

In classification applications, such as medical disease diagnosis, the cost of one type of error (false negative) could greatly outweigh the other (false positive) enabling the need of asymmetric error control. Due to this unique nature of the problem, traditional machine learning techniques, even with much improved accuracy, may not be ideal as they do not provide a way to control the false negatives below a certain threshold. To address this need, a classification algorithm that can provide asymmetric error control is proposed. The theoretical foundation for this algorithm is based on Neyman-Pearson (NP) Lemma and it is complemented with sample splitting and order statistics to pick a threshold that enables an upper bound on the number of false negatives. Additionally, this classifier addresses the imbalance of the data, which is common in medical datasets, by using Hellinger distance as the splitting criterion. This eliminates the need of sampling methods, which add complexity and the need for parameter selection. This approach is used to create a novel tree-based classifier that enables asymmetric error control. Applications, such as prediction of the severity of cardiac arrhythmia, require classification over multiple classes. The NP oracle inequalities for binary classes are not immediately applicable for the multiclass NP classification, leading to a multi-step procedure proposed in this dissertation to extend the algorithm in the context of multiple classes. This classifier is used in predicting various forms of cardiac disease for both binary and multi-class classification problems with not only comparable accuracy metrics but also with full control over the number of false negatives. Moreover, this research allows us to pick the threshold for the classifier in a data adaptive way. This dissertation also shows that this methodology can be extended to non medical applications that require classification with asymmetric error control.

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Date Created
2021

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Reduced Order Models and Approximations for Hardware Acceleration of Neural Networks

Description

Many real-world engineering problems require simulations to evaluate the design objectives and constraints. Often, due to the complexity of the system model, simulations can be prohibitive in terms of computation time. One approach to overcome this issue is to construct

Many real-world engineering problems require simulations to evaluate the design objectives and constraints. Often, due to the complexity of the system model, simulations can be prohibitive in terms of computation time. One approach to overcome this issue is to construct a surrogate model, which approximates the original model. The focus of this work is on the data-driven surrogate models, in which empirical approximations of the output are performed given the input parameters. Recently neural networks (NN) have re-emerged as a popular method for constructing data-driven surrogate models. Although, NNs have achieved excellent accuracy and are widely used, they pose their own challenges. This work addresses two common challenges, the need for: (1) hardware acceleration and (2) uncertainty quantification (UQ) in the presence of input variability. The high demand in the inference phase of deep NNs in cloud servers/edge devices calls for the design of low power custom hardware accelerators. The first part of this work describes the design of an energy-efficient long short-term memory (LSTM) accelerator. The overarching goal is to aggressively reduce the power consumption and area of the LSTM components using approximate computing, and then use architectural level techniques to boost the performance. The proposed design is synthesized and placed and routed as an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). The results demonstrate that this accelerator is 1.2X and 3.6X more energy-efficient and area-efficient than the baseline LSTM. In the second part of this work, a robust framework is developed based on an alternate data-driven surrogate model referred to as polynomial chaos expansion (PCE) for addressing UQ. In contrast to many existing approaches, no assumptions are made on the elements of the function space and UQ is a function of the expansion coefficients. Moreover, the sensitivity of the output with respect to any subset of the input variables can be computed analytically by post-processing the PCE coefficients. This provides a systematic and incremental method to pruning or changing the order of the model. This framework is evaluated on several real-world applications from different domains and is extended for classification tasks as well.

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Date Created
2021

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Pain-Inspired Intrinsic Reward For Deep Reinforcement Learning

Description

Reinforcement learning (RL) is a powerful methodology for teaching autonomous agents complex behaviors and skills. A critical component in most RL algorithms is the reward function -- a mathematical function that provides numerical estimates for desirable and undesirable states. Typically,

Reinforcement learning (RL) is a powerful methodology for teaching autonomous agents complex behaviors and skills. A critical component in most RL algorithms is the reward function -- a mathematical function that provides numerical estimates for desirable and undesirable states. Typically, the reward function must be hand-designed by a human expert and, as a result, the scope of a robot's autonomy and ability to safely explore and learn in new and unforeseen environments is constrained by the specifics of the designed reward function. In this thesis, I design and implement a stateful collision anticipation model with powerful predictive capability based upon my research of sequential data modeling and modern recurrent neural networks. I also develop deep reinforcement learning methods whose rewards are generated by self-supervised training and intrinsic signals. The main objective is to work towards the development of resilient robots that can learn to anticipate and avoid damaging interactions by combining visual and proprioceptive cues from internal sensors. The introduced solutions are inspired by pain pathways in humans and animals, because such pathways are known to guide decision-making processes and promote self-preservation. A new "robot dodge ball' benchmark is introduced in order to test the validity of the developed algorithms in dynamic environments.

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Date Created
2018

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Content Detection in Handwritten Documents

Description

Handwritten documents have gained popularity in various domains including education and business. A key task in analyzing a complex document is to distinguish between various content types such as text, math, graphics, tables and so on. For example, one such

Handwritten documents have gained popularity in various domains including education and business. A key task in analyzing a complex document is to distinguish between various content types such as text, math, graphics, tables and so on. For example, one such aspect could be a region on the document with a mathematical expression; in this case, the label would be math. This differentiation facilitates the performance of specific recognition tasks depending on the content type. We hypothesize that the recognition accuracy of the subsequent tasks such as textual, math, and shape recognition will increase, further leading to a better analysis of the document.

Content detection on handwritten documents assigns a particular class to a homogeneous portion of the document. To complete this task, a set of handwritten solutions was digitally collected from middle school students located in two different geographical regions in 2017 and 2018. This research discusses the methods to collect, pre-process and detect content type in the collected handwritten documents. A total of 4049 documents were extracted in the form of image, and json format; and were labelled using an object labelling software with tags being text, math, diagram, cross out, table, graph, tick mark, arrow, and doodle. The labelled images were fed to the Tensorflow’s object detection API to learn a neural network model. We show our results from two neural networks models, Faster Region-based Convolutional Neural Network (Faster R-CNN) and Single Shot detection model (SSD).

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Date Created
2018

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Monocular depth estimation with edge-based constraints and active learning

Description

The ubiquity of single camera systems in society has made improving monocular depth estimation a topic of increasing interest in the broader computer vision community. Inspired by recent work in sparse-to-dense depth estimation, this thesis focuses on sparse patterns generated

The ubiquity of single camera systems in society has made improving monocular depth estimation a topic of increasing interest in the broader computer vision community. Inspired by recent work in sparse-to-dense depth estimation, this thesis focuses on sparse patterns generated from feature detection based algorithms as opposed to regular grid sparse patterns used by previous work. This work focuses on using these feature-based sparse patterns to generate additional depth information by interpolating regions between clusters of samples that are in close proximity to each other. These interpolated sparse depths are used to enforce additional constraints on the network’s predictions. In addition to the improved depth prediction performance observed from incorporating the sparse sample information in the network compared to pure RGB-based methods, the experiments show that actively retraining a network on a small number of samples that deviate most from the interpolated sparse depths leads to better depth prediction overall.

This thesis also introduces a new metric, titled Edge, to quantify model performance in regions of an image that show the highest change in ground truth depth values along either the x-axis or the y-axis. Existing metrics in depth estimation like Root Mean Square Error(RMSE) and Mean Absolute Error(MAE) quantify model performance across the entire image and don’t focus on specific regions of an image that are hard to predict. To this end, the proposed Edge metric focuses specifically on these hard to classify regions. The experiments also show that using the Edge metric as a small addition to existing loss functions like L1 loss in current state-of-the-art methods leads to vastly improved performance in these hard to classify regions, while also improving performance across the board in every other metric.

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Date Created
2019