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AI Seminar

AI Seminar: Cynthia Rudin – Understanding How Dimension Reduction Tools Work

Cynthia RudinProfessor, Computer Science and EngineeringDuke University


https://umich.zoom.us/j/92216884113 (password: UMichAI)

Title: Understanding How Dimension Reduction Tools Work


Dimension reduction (DR) techniques such as t-SNE, UMAP, and TriMap have demonstrated impressive visualization performance on many real world datasets. They are useful for understanding data and trustworthy decision-making, particularly for biological data. One tension that has always faced these methods is the trade-off between preservation of global structure and preservation of local structure: past methods can either handle one or the other, but not both. In this work, our main goal is to understand what aspects of DR methods are important for preserving both local and global structure: it is difficult to design a better method without a true understanding of the choices we make in our algorithms and their empirical impact on the lower-dimensional embeddings they produce. Towards the goal of local structure preservation, we provide several useful design principles for DR loss functions based on our new understanding of the mechanisms behind successful DR methods. Towards the goal of global structure preservation, our analysis illuminates that the choice of which components to preserve is important. We leverage these insights to design a new algorithm for DR, called Pairwise Controlled Manifold Approximation Projection (PaCMAP), which preserves both local and global structure. Our work provides several unexpected insights into what design choices both to make and avoid when constructing DR algorithms.


Cynthia Rudin is a professor of computer science and engineering at Duke University. She directs the Interpretable Machine Learning Lab, and her goal is to design predictive models that people can understand. Her lab applies machine learning in many areas, such as healthcare, criminal justice, and energy reliability. She holds degrees from the University at Buffalo and Princeton. She is the recipient of the 2022 Squirrel AI Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humanity from the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (the “Nobel Prize of AI”). She received a 2022 Guggenheim fellowship, and is a fellow of the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. Her work has been featured in many news outlets including the NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Boston Globe.


AI Lab

Faculty Host

Jenna Wiens