** In this work we demonstrate how to automate parts of the infectious disease-control policy-making process via performing inference in existing epidemiological models. The kind of inference tasks undertaken include computing the posterior distribution over controllable, via direct policy-making choices, simulation model parameters that give rise to acceptable disease progression outcomes. Among other things, we illustrate the use of a probabilistic programming language that automates inference in existing simulators. Neither the full capabilities of this tool for automating inference nor its utility for planning is widely disseminated at the current time. Timely gains in understanding about how such simulation-based models and inference automation tools applied in support of policymaking could lead to less economically damaging policy prescriptions, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic. **

** The field of quantum information is becoming more known to the general public. However, effectively demonstrating the concepts underneath quantum science and technology to the general public can be a challenging job. We investigate, extend, and much expand here "quantum candies" (invented by Jacobs), a pedagogical model for intuitively describing some basic concepts in quantum information, including quantum bits, complementarity, the no-cloning principle, and entanglement. Following Jacob's quantum candies description of the well-known quantum key distribution protocol BB84, we explicitly demonstrate various additional quantum cryptography protocols using quantum candies in an approachable manner. The model we investigate can be a valuable tool for science and engineering educators who would like to help the general public to gain more insights into quantum science and technology: most parts of this paper, including many protocols for quantum cryptography, are expected to be easily understandable by a layperson without any previous knowledge of mathematics, physics, or cryptography. **

** Active inference is a unifying theory for perception and action resting upon the idea that the brain maintains an internal model of the world by minimizing free energy. From a behavioral perspective, active inference agents can be seen as self-evidencing beings that act to fulfill their optimistic predictions, namely preferred outcomes or goals. In contrast, reinforcement learning requires human-designed rewards to accomplish any desired outcome. Although active inference could provide a more natural self-supervised objective for control, its applicability has been limited because of the shortcomings in scaling the approach to complex environments. In this work, we propose a contrastive objective for active inference that strongly reduces the computational burden in learning the agent's generative model and planning future actions. Our method performs notably better than likelihood-based active inference in image-based tasks, while also being computationally cheaper and easier to train. We compare to reinforcement learning agents that have access to human-designed reward functions, showing that our approach closely matches their performance. Finally, we also show that contrastive methods perform significantly better in the case of distractors in the environment and that our method is able to generalize goals to variations in the background. **

** How can artificial agents learn to solve many diverse tasks in complex visual environments in the absence of any supervision? We decompose this question into two problems: discovering new goals and learning to reliably achieve them. We introduce Latent Explorer Achiever (LEXA), a unified solution to these that learns a world model from image inputs and uses it to train an explorer and an achiever policy from imagined rollouts. Unlike prior methods that explore by reaching previously visited states, the explorer plans to discover unseen surprising states through foresight, which are then used as diverse targets for the achiever to practice. After the unsupervised phase, LEXA solves tasks specified as goal images zero-shot without any additional learning. LEXA substantially outperforms previous approaches to unsupervised goal-reaching, both on prior benchmarks and on a new challenging benchmark with a total of 40 test tasks spanning across four standard robotic manipulation and locomotion domains. LEXA further achieves goals that require interacting with multiple objects in sequence. Finally, to demonstrate the scalability and generality of LEXA, we train a single general agent across four distinct environments. Code and videos at https://orybkin.github.io/lexa/ **

** For autonomous service robots to successfully perform long horizon tasks in the real world, they must act intelligently in partially observable environments. Most Task and Motion Planning approaches assume full observability of their state space, making them ineffective in stochastic and partially observable domains that reflect the uncertainties in the real world. We propose an online planning and execution approach for performing long horizon tasks in partially observable domains. Given the robot's belief and a plan skeleton composed of symbolic actions, our approach grounds each symbolic action by inferring continuous action parameters needed to execute the plan successfully. To achieve this, we formulate the problem of joint inference of action parameters as a Hybrid Constraint Satisfaction Problem (H-CSP) and solve the H-CSP using Belief Propagation. The robot executes the resulting parameterized actions, updates its belief of the world and replans when necessary. Our approach is able to efficiently solve partially observable tasks in a realistic kitchen simulation environment. Our approach outperformed an adaptation of the state-of-the-art method across our experiments. **

** Coverage path planning in a generic known environment is shown to be NP-hard. When the environment is unknown, it becomes more challenging as the robot is required to rely on its online map information built during coverage for planning its path. A significant research effort focuses on designing heuristic or approximate algorithms that achieve reasonable performance. Such algorithms have sub-optimal performance in terms of covering the area or the cost of coverage, e.g., coverage time or energy consumption. In this paper, we provide a systematic analysis of the coverage problem and formulate it as an optimal stopping time problem, where the trade-off between coverage performance and its cost is explicitly accounted for. Next, we demonstrate that reinforcement learning (RL) techniques can be leveraged to solve the problem computationally. To this end, we provide some technical and practical considerations to facilitate the application of the RL algorithms and improve the efficiency of the solutions. Finally, through experiments in grid world environments and Gazebo simulator, we show that reinforcement learning-based algorithms efficiently cover realistic unknown indoor environments, and outperform the current state of the art. **

** Modeling and drawing inference on the joint associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms and a disease has sparked interest in genome-wide associations studies. In the motivating Boston Lung Cancer Survival Cohort (BLCSC) data, the presence of a large number of single nucleotide polymorphisms of interest, though smaller than the sample size, challenges inference on their joint associations with the disease outcome. In similar settings, we find that neither the de-biased lasso approach (van de Geer et al. 2014), which assumes sparsity on the inverse information matrix, nor the standard maximum likelihood method can yield confidence intervals with satisfactory coverage probabilities for generalized linear models. Under this "large $n$, diverging $p$" scenario, we propose an alternative de-biased lasso approach by directly inverting the Hessian matrix without imposing the matrix sparsity assumption, which further reduces bias compared to the original de-biased lasso and ensures valid confidence intervals with nominal coverage probabilities. We establish the asymptotic distributions of any linear combinations of the parameter estimates, which lays the theoretical ground for drawing inference. Simulations show that the proposed refined de-biased estimating method performs well in removing bias and yields honest confidence interval coverage. We use the proposed method to analyze the aforementioned BLCSC data, a large scale hospital-based epidemiology cohort study, that investigates the joint effects of genetic variants on lung cancer risks. **

** Pre-trained language models (PLMs) have been the de facto paradigm for most natural language processing (NLP) tasks. This also benefits biomedical domain: researchers from informatics, medicine, and computer science (CS) communities propose various PLMs trained on biomedical datasets, e.g., biomedical text, electronic health records, protein, and DNA sequences for various biomedical tasks. However, the cross-discipline characteristics of biomedical PLMs hinder their spreading among communities; some existing works are isolated from each other without comprehensive comparison and discussions. It expects a survey that not only systematically reviews recent advances of biomedical PLMs and their applications but also standardizes terminology and benchmarks. In this paper, we summarize the recent progress of pre-trained language models in the biomedical domain and their applications in biomedical downstream tasks. Particularly, we discuss the motivations and propose a taxonomy of existing biomedical PLMs. Their applications in biomedical downstream tasks are exhaustively discussed. At last, we illustrate various limitations and future trends, which we hope can provide inspiration for the future research of the research community. **

** A fundamental computation for statistical inference and accurate decision-making is to compute the marginal probabilities or most probable states of task-relevant variables. Probabilistic graphical models can efficiently represent the structure of such complex data, but performing these inferences is generally difficult. Message-passing algorithms, such as belief propagation, are a natural way to disseminate evidence amongst correlated variables while exploiting the graph structure, but these algorithms can struggle when the conditional dependency graphs contain loops. Here we use Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) to learn a message-passing algorithm that solves these inference tasks. We first show that the architecture of GNNs is well-matched to inference tasks. We then demonstrate the efficacy of this inference approach by training GNNs on a collection of graphical models and showing that they substantially outperform belief propagation on loopy graphs. Our message-passing algorithms generalize out of the training set to larger graphs and graphs with different structure. **