The Tea Time Talks 2020: Week Four

Now that the 2020 Tea Time Talks are on Youtube, you can always have time for tea with Amii and the RLAI Lab! Hosted by Amii’s Chief Scientific Advisory Dr. Richard S. Sutton, these 20-minute talks on technical topics are delivered by students, faculty and guests. The talks are a relaxed and informal way of hearing leaders in AI discuss future lines of research they may explore, with topics ranging from ideas starting to take root to fully-finished projects.

Week four of the Tea Time Talks features:

Negar Hassanpour: Counterfactual Reasoning in Observational Studies

With applications in precision medicine, intelligent tutoring systems and news article recommender systems, Negar discusses counterfactual reasoning: determining value based on actions that were and were not taken. She also presents some ways to address certain critical challenges associated with counterfactual reasoning for causal effect estimation.

Yangchen Pan: An Implicit Function Learning Approach for Parametric Modal Regression

For multi-valued functions, such as when the conditional distribution on targets given the inputs is multi-modal, standard regression approaches are not always desirable because they provide the conditional mean. Modal regression algorithms address this issue by instead finding the conditional mode(s). However, most are nonparametric approaches and so can be difficult to scale, and parametric approximators (such as neural networks) facilitate learning complex relationships between inputs and targets. In this talk, Yangchen proposes a parametric modal regression algorithm and uses the implicit function theorem to develop an objective for learning a joint function over inputs and targets.

Watch the Tea Time Talks live online this year, Monday through Thursday from 4:15 – 4:45 p.m. MT. Each talk will be conducted here (please note that if you are accessing the chat from an email ID outside the domain of, you may have to wait a few seconds for someone inside the meeting to let you in). You can take a look at the full schedule to find talks that interest you, subscribe to the RLAI mailing list or catch up on previous talks on the Youtube playlist.