Google Research

On Blackbox Backpropagation and Jacobian Sensing


From a small number of calls to a given “blackbox"" on random input perturbations, we show how to efficiently recover its unknown Jacobian, or estimate the left action of its Jacobian on a given vector. Our methods are based on a novel combination of compressed sensing and graph coloring techniques, and provably exploit structural prior knowledge about the Jacobian such as sparsity and symmetry while being noise robust. We demonstrate efficient backpropagation through noisy blackbox layers in a deep neural net, improved data-efficiency in the task of linearizing the dynamics of a rigid body system, and the generic ability to handle a rich class of input-output dependency structures in Jacobian estimation problems.

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