L1 Introduction -- CS294-158-SP20 Deep Unsupervised Learning -- UC Berkeley, Spring 2020

Key Takeaways

Course Introduction and Logistics

  • Course Format: The course will cover deep unsupervised learning with a range of topics such as autoregressive models, flow models, latent variable models, implicit models like GANs, self-supervised learning, semi-supervised learning, and unsupervised distribution alignment.
  • Lectures and Assignments: Lectures are highly recommended for building a community and learning interactively. There will be four homework assignments, a midterm, and a final project.
  • Resources and Communication: Essential communications will be handled through Piazza, and the course materials will be available on the website.
  • Office Hours: No office hours this week, but will start next week with different schedules for each teaching assistant.

Unsupervised Learning Overview

  • Definition: Unsupervised learning involves capturing patterns in raw data without labeled annotations. It is broadly divided into generative models and self-supervised learning models.
  • Importance: Learning from unlabeled data is crucial because most data in the world is unlabeled, making unsupervised learning integral for building intelligent systems.

Generative Models

  • Applications: Generative models can create new data, compress existing data, and provide better initializations for supervised learning tasks.
  • Examples:
    • Early models like Deep Belief Nets and Variational Autoencoders.
    • GANs for generating realistic images of faces and bedrooms.
    • PixelCNNs and Census Flow models for density modeling.
    • Advances in generating coherent texts and audio (like Wavenet and GPT-2).

Self-Supervised Learning

  • Use Cases: Learning representations that can be used for downstream tasks like object detection or sentiment analysis without labeled data.
  • Examples: Google's BERT for understanding language and visual models outperforming supervised baselines.

Practical Impact

  • Production-Level Applications: Technologies like BERT are already deployed in production systems like Google Search.
  • Community Building: Networking and learning from peers in class forms a critical part of the learning process.

Final Projects

  • Scope: Encourages exploration and pushing boundaries in unsupervised learning, potentially leading to research papers.
  • Evaluation: Projects will involve initial proposals, mid-term milestones, and final presentations.


  • Relevance: Unsupervised learning is rapidly advancing and has significant applications in various domains, enabling the creation of more robust AI systems.
  • Future Prospects: Continuing development in this field can lead to substantial improvements in areas like reinforcement learning and specific application domains.


  • Feedback and Iteration: The course materials and homeworks are expected to evolve, and students are encouraged to provide feedback for improvements.
  • Team Projects: Students are encouraged to work in teams for final projects to combine diverse ideas and skills.

These key points encapsulate the essential parts of the first lecture for the CS 294 158 course on deep unsupervised learning.

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