John Sipple

John Sipple

As a Tech Lead and Staff Software Engineer in Google Core Enterprise Machine Learning, John Sipple is on a mission to deploy novel fault detection and diagnostics and practical smart control to large-scale industrial problems. John leads multiple development efforts that combine multidimensional anomaly detection with model explainability. He also leads a research effort to deploy reinforcement learning to make commercial office buildings more efficient and environmentally sustainable. John has also worked on dialog summarization models for Google chat, which was showcased in Google IO 2022. Before joining Google, John developed and applied algorithms, statistical analysis, and machine learning solutions to cybersecurity, agriculture, counterfeit detection, and missile defense.
Authored Publications
Google Publications
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    Preview abstract Modern commercial Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) devices form a complex and interconnected thermodynamic system with the building and outside weather conditions, and current setpoint control policies are not fully optimized for minimizing energy use and carbon emission. Given a suitable training environment, a Reinforcement Learning (RL) model is able to improve upon these policies, but training such a model, especially in a way that scales to thousands of buildings, presents many real-world challenges. We propose a novel simulation-based approach,where a customized simulator is used to train the agent for each building. Our open-source simulator is lightweight and calibrated via telemetry from the building to reach a higher level of fidelity. On a two-story, 68,000 square foot building, with 127 devices, we were able to calibrate our simulator to have just over half a degree of drift from the real world over a six-hour interval. This approach is an important step toward having a real-world RL control system that can be scaled to many buildings, allowing for greater efficiency and resulting in reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions. View details
    A general-purpose method for applying Explainable AI for Anomaly Detection
    Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, Springer Verlag(2022) (to appear)
    Preview abstract The need for explainable AI (XAI) is well established but relatively little has been published outside of the supervised learning paradigm. This paper focuses on a principled approach to applying explainability and interpretability to the task of unsupervised anomaly detection. We argue that explainability is principally an algorithmic task and interpretability is principally a cognitive task, and draw on insights from the cognitive sciences to propose a general-purpose method for practical diagnosis using explained anomalies. We define Attribution Error, and demonstrate, using real-world labeled datasets, that our method based on Integrated Gradients (IG) yields significantly lower attribution errors than alternative methods. View details
    Preview abstract Complex devices are connected daily and eagerly generate vast streams of multidimensional state measurements. These devices often operate in distinct modes based on external conditions (day/night, occupied/vacant, etc.), and to prevent complete or partial system outage, we would like to recognize as early as possible when these devices begin to operate outside the normal modes. Unfortunately, it is often impractical or impossible to predict failures using rules or supervised machine learning, because failure modes are too complex, devices are too new to adequately characterize in a specific environment, or environmental change puts the device into an unpredictable condition. We propose an unsupervised anomaly detection method that creates a negative sample from the positive, observed sample, and trains a classifier to distinguish between positive and negative samples. Using the Contraction Principle, we explain why such a classifier ought to establish suitable decision boundaries between normal and anomalous regions, and show how Integrated Gradients can attribute the anomaly to specific variables within the anomalous state vector. We have demonstrated that negative sampling with random forest or neural network classifiers yield significantly higher AUC scores than Isolation Forest, One Class SVM, and Deep SVDD, against (a) a synthetic dataset with dimensionality ranging between 2 and 128, with 1, 2, and 3 modes, and with and without noise dimensions; (b) four standard benchmark datasets; and (c) a multidimensional, multimodal dataset from real climate control devices. Finally, we describe how negative sampling with neural network classifiers have been successfully deployed at large scale to predict failures in real time in over 15,000 climate-control and power meter devices in 145 Google office buildings. View details
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