Variational inference relies on flexible approximate posterior distributions. Normalizing flows provide a general recipe to construct flexible variational posteriors. We introduce Sylvester normalizing flows, which can be seen as a generalization of planar flows. Sylvester normalizing flows remove the well-known single-unit bottleneck from planar flows, making a single transformation much more flexible. We compare the performance of Sylvester normalizing flows against planar flows and inverse autoregressive flows and demonstrate that they compare favorably on several datasets.
The effectiveness of Convolutional Neural Networks stems in large part from their ability to exploit the translation invariance that is inherent in many learning problems. Recently, it was shown that CNNs can exploit other invariances, such as rotation invariance, by using group convolutions instead of planar convolutions. However, for reasons of performance and ease of implementation, it has been necessary to limit the group convolution to transformations that can be applied to the filters without interpolation. Thus, for images with square pixels, only integer translations, rotations by multiples of 90 degrees, and reflections are admissible. Whereas the square tiling provides a 4-fold rotational symmetry, a hexagonal tiling of the plane has a 6-fold rotational symmetry. In this paper we show how one can efficiently implement planar convolution and group convolution over hexagonal lattices, by re-using existing highly optimized convolution routines. We find that, due to the reduced anisotropy of hexagonal filters, planar HexaConv provides better accuracy than planar convolution with square filters, given a fixed parameter budget. Furthermore, we find that the increased degree of symmetry of the hexagonal grid increases the effectiveness of group convolutions, by allowing for more parameter sharing. We show that our method significantly outperforms conventional CNNs on the AID aerial scene classification dataset, even outperforming ImageNet pre-trained models.
Multiple instance learning (MIL) is a variation of supervised learning where a single class label is assigned to a bag of instances. In this paper, we state the MIL problem as learning the Bernoulli distribution of the bag label where the bag label probability is fully parameterized by neural networks. Furthermore, we propose a neural network-based permutation-invariant aggregation operator that corresponds to the attention mechanism. Notably, an application of the proposed attention-based operator provides insight into the contribution of each instance to the bag label. We show empirically that our approach achieves comparable performance to the best MIL methods on benchmark MIL datasets and it outperforms other methods on a MNIST-based MIL dataset and two real-life histopathology datasets without sacrificing interpretability.
Interacting systems are prevalent in nature, from dynamical systems in physics to complex societal dynamics. The interplay of components can give rise to complex behavior, which can often be explained using a simple model of the system's constituent parts. In this work, we introduce the neural relational inference (NRI) model: an unsupervised model that learns to infer interactions while simultaneously learning the dynamics purely from observational data. Our model takes the form of a variational auto-encoder, in which the latent code represents the underlying interaction graph and the reconstruction is based on graph neural networks. In experiments on simulated physical systems, we show that our NRI model can accurately recover ground-truth interactions in an unsupervised manner. We further demonstrate that we can find an interpretable structure and predict complex dynamics in real motion capture and sports tracking data.
Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) have become the method of choice for learning problems involving 2D planar images. However, a number of problems of recent interest have created a demand for models that can analyze spherical images. Examples include omnidirectional vision for drones, robots, and autonomous cars, molecular regression problems, and global weather and climate modelling. A naive application of convolutional networks to a planar projection of the spherical signal is destined to fail, because the space-varying distortions introduced by such a projection will make translational weight sharing ineffective. In this paper we introduce the building blocks for constructing spherical CNNs. We propose a definition for the spherical cross-correlation that is both expressive and rotation-equivariant. The spherical correlation satisfies a generalized Fourier theorem, which allows us to compute it efficiently using a generalized (non-commutative) Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) algorithm. We demonstrate the computational efficiency, numerical accuracy, and effectiveness of spherical CNNs applied to 3D model recognition and atomization energy regression.
We propose a practical method for $L_0$ norm regularization for neural networks: pruning the network during training by encouraging weights to become exactly zero. Such regularization is interesting since (1) it can greatly speed up training and inference, and (2) it can improve generalization. AIC and BIC, well-known model selection criteria, are special cases of $L_0$ regularization. However, since the $L_0$ norm of weights is non-differentiable, we cannot incorporate it directly as a regularization term in the objective function. We propose a solution through the inclusion of a collection of non-negative stochastic gates, which collectively determine which weights to set to zero. We show that, somewhat surprisingly, for certain distributions over the gates, the expected $L_0$ norm of the resulting gated weights is differentiable with respect to the distribution parameters. We further propose the \emphhard concrete distribution for the gates, which is obtained by "stretching" a binary concrete distribution and then transforming its samples with a hard-sigmoid. The parameters of the distribution over the gates can then be jointly optimized with the original network parameters. As a result our method allows for straightforward and efficient learning of model structures with stochastic gradient descent and allows for conditional computation in a principled way. We perform various experiments to demonstrate the effectiveness of the resulting approach and regularizer.
The computer-aided analysis of medical scans is a longstanding goal in the medical imaging field. Currently, deep learning has became a dominant methodology for supporting pathologists and radiologist. Deep learning algorithms have been successfully applied to digital pathology and radiology, nevertheless, there are still practical issues that prevent these tools to be widely used in practice. The main obstacles are low number of available cases and large size of images (a.k.a. the small n, large p problem in machine learning), and a very limited access to annotation at a pixel level that can lead to severe overfitting and large computational requirements. We propose to handle these issues by introducing a framework that processes a medical image as a collection of small patches using a single, shared neural network. The final diagnosis is provided by combining scores of individual patches using a permutation-invariant operator (combination). In machine learning community such approach is called a multi-instance learning (MIL).
Nov 20 2017 stat.ML
Compression of Neural Networks (NN) has become a highly studied topic in recent years. The main reason for this is the demand for industrial scale usage of NNs such as deploying them on mobile devices, storing them efficiently, transmitting them via band-limited channels and most importantly doing inference at scale. In this work, we propose to join the Soft-Weight Sharing and Variational Dropout approaches that show strong results to define a new state-of-the-art in terms of model compression.
Jun 09 2017 stat.ML
In this paper, we propose a new volume-preserving flow and show that it performs similarly to the linear general normalizing flow. The idea is to enrich a linear Inverse Autoregressive Flow by introducing multiple lower-triangular matrices with ones on the diagonal and combining them using a convex combination. In the experimental studies on MNIST and Histopathology data we show that the proposed approach outperforms other volume-preserving flows and is competitive with current state-of-the-art linear normalizing flow.
We consider matrix completion for recommender systems from the point of view of link prediction on graphs. Interaction data such as movie ratings can be represented by a bipartite user-item graph with labeled edges denoting observed ratings. Building on recent progress in deep learning on graph-structured data, we propose a graph auto-encoder framework based on differentiable message passing on the bipartite interaction graph. Our model shows competitive performance on standard collaborative filtering benchmarks. In settings where complimentary feature information or structured data such as a social network is available, our framework outperforms recent state-of-the-art methods.
Compression and computational efficiency in deep learning have become a problem of great significance. In this work, we argue that the most principled and effective way to attack this problem is by adopting a Bayesian point of view, where through sparsity inducing priors we prune large parts of the network. We introduce two novelties in this paper: 1) we use hierarchical priors to prune nodes instead of individual weights, and 2) we use the posterior uncertainties to determine the optimal fixed point precision to encode the weights. Both factors significantly contribute to achieving the state of the art in terms of compression rates, while still staying competitive with methods designed to optimize for speed or energy efficiency.
Learning individual-level causal effects from observational data, such as inferring the most effective medication for a specific patient, is a problem of growing importance for policy makers. The most important aspect of inferring causal effects from observational data is the handling of confounders, factors that affect both an intervention and its outcome. A carefully designed observational study attempts to measure all important confounders. However, even if one does not have direct access to all confounders, there may exist noisy and uncertain measurement of proxies for confounders. We build on recent advances in latent variable modeling to simultaneously estimate the unknown latent space summarizing the confounders and the causal effect. Our method is based on Variational Autoencoders (VAE) which follow the causal structure of inference with proxies. We show our method is significantly more robust than existing methods, and matches the state-of-the-art on previous benchmarks focused on individual treatment effects.
Many different methods to train deep generative models have been introduced in the past. In this paper, we propose to extend the variational auto-encoder (VAE) framework with a new type of prior which we call "Variational Mixture of Posteriors" prior, or VampPrior for short. The VampPrior consists of a mixture distribution (e.g., a mixture of Gaussians) with components given by variational posteriors conditioned on learnable pseudo-inputs. We further extend this prior to a two layer hierarchical model and show that this architecture with a coupled prior and posterior, learns significantly better models. The model also avoids the usual local optima issues related to useless latent dimensions that plague VAEs. We provide empirical studies on six datasets, namely, static and binary MNIST, OMNIGLOT, Caltech 101 Silhouettes, Frey Faces and Histopathology patches, and show that applying the hierarchical VampPrior delivers state-of-the-art results on all datasets in the unsupervised permutation invariant setting and the best results or comparable to SOTA methods for the approach with convolutional networks.
Knowledge graphs enable a wide variety of applications, including question answering and information retrieval. Despite the great effort invested in their creation and maintenance, even the largest (e.g., Yago, DBPedia or Wikidata) remain incomplete. We introduce Relational Graph Convolutional Networks (R-GCNs) and apply them to two standard knowledge base completion tasks: Link prediction (recovery of missing facts, i.e. subject-predicate-object triples) and entity classification (recovery of missing entity attributes). R-GCNs are related to a recent class of neural networks operating on graphs, and are developed specifically to deal with the highly multi-relational data characteristic of realistic knowledge bases. We demonstrate the effectiveness of R-GCNs as a stand-alone model for entity classification. We further show that factorization models for link prediction such as DistMult can be significantly improved by enriching them with an encoder model to accumulate evidence over multiple inference steps in the relational graph, demonstrating a large improvement of 29.8% on FB15k-237 over a decoder-only baseline.
We reinterpret multiplicative noise in neural networks as auxiliary random variables that augment the approximate posterior in a variational setting for Bayesian neural networks. We show that through this interpretation it is both efficient and straightforward to improve the approximation by employing normalizing flows while still allowing for local reparametrizations and a tractable lower bound. In experiments we show that with this new approximation we can significantly improve upon classical mean field for Bayesian neural networks on both predictive accuracy as well as predictive uncertainty.
The success of deep learning in numerous application domains created the de- sire to run and train them on mobile devices. This however, conflicts with their computationally, memory and energy intense nature, leading to a growing interest in compression. Recent work by Han et al. (2015a) propose a pipeline that involves retraining, pruning and quantization of neural network weights, obtaining state-of-the-art compression rates. In this paper, we show that competitive compression rates can be achieved by using a version of soft weight-sharing (Nowlan & Hinton, 1992). Our method achieves both quantization and pruning in one simple (re-)training procedure. This point of view also exposes the relation between compression and the minimum description length (MDL) principle.
It has long been recognized that the invariance and equivariance properties of a representation are critically important for success in many vision tasks. In this paper we present Steerable Convolutional Neural Networks, an efficient and flexible class of equivariant convolutional networks. We show that steerable CNNs achieve state of the art results on the CIFAR image classification benchmark. The mathematical theory of steerable representations reveals a type system in which any steerable representation is a composition of elementary feature types, each one associated with a particular kind of symmetry. We show how the parameter cost of a steerable filter bank depends on the types of the input and output features, and show how to use this knowledge to construct CNNs that utilize parameters effectively.
Variational auto-encoders (VAE) are scalable and powerful generative models. However, the choice of the variational posterior determines tractability and flexibility of the VAE. Commonly, latent variables are modeled using the normal distribution with a diagonal covariance matrix. This results in computational efficiency but typically it is not flexible enough to match the true posterior distribution. One fashion of enriching the variational posterior distribution is application of normalizing flows, i.e., a series of invertible transformations to latent variables with a simple posterior. In this paper, we follow this line of thinking and propose a volume-preserving flow that uses a series of Householder transformations. We show empirically on MNIST dataset and histopathology data that the proposed flow allows to obtain more flexible variational posterior and competitive results comparing to other normalizing flows.
We introduce the variational graph auto-encoder (VGAE), a framework for unsupervised learning on graph-structured data based on the variational auto-encoder (VAE). This model makes use of latent variables and is capable of learning interpretable latent representations for undirected graphs. We demonstrate this model using a graph convolutional network (GCN) encoder and a simple inner product decoder. Our model achieves competitive results on a link prediction task in citation networks. In contrast to most existing models for unsupervised learning on graph-structured data and link prediction, our model can naturally incorporate node features, which significantly improves predictive performance on a number of benchmark datasets.
Many applications of Bayesian data analysis involve sensitive information, motivating methods which ensure that privacy is protected. We introduce a general privacy-preserving framework for Variational Bayes (VB), a widely used optimization-based Bayesian inference method. Our framework respects differential privacy, the gold-standard privacy criterion, and encompasses a large class of probabilistic models, called the Conjugate Exponential (CE) family. We observe that we can straightforwardly privatise VB's approximate posterior distributions for models in the CE family, by perturbing the expected sufficient statistics of the complete-data likelihood. For a broadly-used class of non-CE models, those with binomial likelihoods, we show how to bring such models into the CE family, such that inferences in the modified model resemble the private variational Bayes algorithm as closely as possible, using the Polya-Gamma data augmentation scheme. The iterative nature of variational Bayes presents a further challenge since iterations increase the amount of noise needed. We overcome this by combining: (1) an improved composition method for differential privacy, called the moments accountant, which provides a tight bound on the privacy cost of multiple VB iterations and thus significantly decreases the amount of additive noise; and (2) the privacy amplification effect of subsampling mini-batches from large-scale data in stochastic learning. We empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of our method in CE and non-CE models including latent Dirichlet allocation, Bayesian logistic regression, and sigmoid belief networks, evaluated on real-world datasets.
We develop a privatised stochastic variational inference method for Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). The iterative nature of stochastic variational inference presents challenges: multiple iterations are required to obtain accurate posterior distributions, yet each iteration increases the amount of noise that must be added to achieve a reasonable degree of privacy. We propose a practical algorithm that overcomes this challenge by combining: (1) A relaxed notion of the differential privacy, called concentrated differential privacy, which provides high probability bounds for cumulative privacy loss, which is well suited for iterative algorithms, rather than focusing on single-query loss; and (2) Privacy amplification resulting from subsampling of large-scale data. Focusing on conjugate exponential family models, in our private variational inference, all the posterior distributions will be privatised by simply perturbing expected sufficient statistics. Using Wikipedia data, we illustrate the effectiveness of our algorithm for large-scale data.
We present a scalable approach for semi-supervised learning on graph-structured data that is based on an efficient variant of convolutional neural networks which operate directly on graphs. We motivate the choice of our convolutional architecture via a localized first-order approximation of spectral graph convolutions. Our model scales linearly in the number of graph edges and learns hidden layer representations that encode both local graph structure and features of nodes. In a number of experiments on citation networks and on a knowledge graph dataset we demonstrate that our approach outperforms related methods by a significant margin.
Jun 29 2016 stat.ML
Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) is a framework for performing likelihood-free posterior inference for simulation models. Stochastic Variational inference (SVI) is an appealing alternative to the inefficient sampling approaches commonly used in ABC. However, SVI is highly sensitive to the variance of the gradient estimators, and this problem is exacerbated by approximating the likelihood. We draw upon recent advances in variance reduction for SV and likelihood-free inference using deterministic simulations to produce low variance gradient estimators of the variational lower-bound. By then exploiting automatic differentiation libraries we can avoid nearly all model-specific derivations. We demonstrate performance on three problems and compare to existing SVI algorithms. Our results demonstrate the correctness and efficiency of our algorithm.
The framework of normalizing flows provides a general strategy for flexible variational inference of posteriors over latent variables. We propose a new type of normalizing flow, inverse autoregressive flow (IAF), that, in contrast to earlier published flows, scales well to high-dimensional latent spaces. The proposed flow consists of a chain of invertible transformations, where each transformation is based on an autoregressive neural network. In experiments, we show that IAF significantly improves upon diagonal Gaussian approximate posteriors. In addition, we demonstrate that a novel type of variational autoencoder, coupled with IAF, is competitive with neural autoregressive models in terms of attained log-likelihood on natural images, while allowing significantly faster synthesis.
Iteratively reweighted least squares (IRLS) is a widely-used method in machine learning to estimate the parameters in the generalised linear models. In particular, IRLS for L1 minimisation under the linear model provides a closed-form solution in each step, which is a simple multiplication between the inverse of the weighted second moment matrix and the weighted first moment vector. When dealing with privacy sensitive data, however, developing a privacy preserving IRLS algorithm faces two challenges. First, due to the inversion of the second moment matrix, the usual sensitivity analysis in differential privacy incorporating a single datapoint perturbation gets complicated and often requires unrealistic assumptions. Second, due to its iterative nature, a significant cumulative privacy loss occurs. However, adding a high level of noise to compensate for the privacy loss hinders from getting accurate estimates. Here, we develop a practical algorithm that overcomes these challenges and outputs privatised and accurate IRLS solutions. In our method, we analyse the sensitivity of each moments separately and treat the matrix inversion and multiplication as a post-processing step, which simplifies the sensitivity analysis. Furthermore, we apply the \itconcentrated differential privacy formalism, a more relaxed version of differential privacy, which requires adding a significantly less amount of noise for the same level of privacy guarantee, compared to the conventional and advanced compositions of differentially private mechanisms.
The iterative nature of the expectation maximization (EM) algorithm presents a challenge for privacy-preserving estimation, as each iteration increases the amount of noise needed. We propose a practical private EM algorithm that overcomes this challenge using two innovations: (1) a novel moment perturbation formulation for differentially private EM (DP-EM), and (2) the use of two recently developed composition methods to bound the privacy "cost" of multiple EM iterations: the moments accountant (MA) and zero-mean concentrated differential privacy (zCDP). Both MA and zCDP bound the moment generating function of the privacy loss random variable and achieve a refined tail bound, which effectively decrease the amount of additive noise. We present empirical results showing the benefits of our approach, as well as similar performance between these two composition methods in the DP-EM setting for Gaussian mixture models. Our approach can be readily extended to many iterative learning algorithms, opening up various exciting future directions.
Bayesian inference has great promise for the privacy-preserving analysis of sensitive data, as posterior sampling automatically preserves differential privacy, an algorithmic notion of data privacy, under certain conditions (Dimitrakakis et al., 2014; Wang et al., 2015). While this one posterior sample (OPS) approach elegantly provides privacy "for free," it is data inefficient in the sense of asymptotic relative efficiency (ARE). We show that a simple alternative based on the Laplace mechanism, the workhorse of differential privacy, is as asymptotically efficient as non-private posterior inference, under general assumptions. This technique also has practical advantages including efficient use of the privacy budget for MCMC. We demonstrate the practicality of our approach on a time-series analysis of sensitive military records from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars disclosed by the Wikileaks organization.
We introduce a variational Bayesian neural network where the parameters are governed via a probability distribution on random matrices. Specifically, we employ a matrix variate Gaussian \citegupta1999matrix parameter posterior distribution where we explicitly model the covariance among the input and output dimensions of each layer. Furthermore, with approximate covariance matrices we can achieve a more efficient way to represent those correlations that is also cheaper than fully factorized parameter posteriors. We further show that with the "local reprarametrization trick" \citekingma2015variational on this posterior distribution we arrive at a Gaussian Process \citerasmussen2006gaussian interpretation of the hidden units in each layer and we, similarly with \citegal2015dropout, provide connections with deep Gaussian processes. We continue in taking advantage of this duality and incorporate "pseudo-data" \citesnelson2005sparse in our model, which in turn allows for more efficient sampling while maintaining the properties of the original model. The validity of the proposed approach is verified through extensive experiments.
We introduce Group equivariant Convolutional Neural Networks (G-CNNs), a natural generalization of convolutional neural networks that reduces sample complexity by exploiting symmetries. G-CNNs use G-convolutions, a new type of layer that enjoys a substantially higher degree of weight sharing than regular convolution layers. G-convolutions increase the expressive capacity of the network without increasing the number of parameters. Group convolution layers are easy to use and can be implemented with negligible computational overhead for discrete groups generated by translations, reflections and rotations. G-CNNs achieve state of the art results on CIFAR10 and rotated MNIST.
Herding defines a deterministic dynamical system at the edge of chaos. It generates a sequence of model states and parameters by alternating parameter perturbations with state maximizations, where the sequence of states can be interpreted as "samples" from an associated MRF model. Herding differs from maximum likelihood estimation in that the sequence of parameters does not converge to a fixed point and differs from an MCMC posterior sampling approach in that the sequence of states is generated deterministically. Herding may be interpreted as a"perturb and map" method where the parameter perturbations are generated using a deterministic nonlinear dynamical system rather than randomly from a Gumbel distribution. This chapter studies the distinct statistical characteristics of the herding algorithm and shows that the fast convergence rate of the controlled moments may be attributed to edge of chaos dynamics. The herding algorithm can also be generalized to models with latent variables and to a discriminative learning setting. The perceptron cycling theorem ensures that the fast moment matching property is preserved in the more general framework.
We investigate the problem of learning representations that are invariant to certain nuisance or sensitive factors of variation in the data while retaining as much of the remaining information as possible. Our model is based on a variational autoencoding architecture with priors that encourage independence between sensitive and latent factors of variation. Any subsequent processing, such as classification, can then be performed on this purged latent representation. To remove any remaining dependencies we incorporate an additional penalty term based on the "Maximum Mean Discrepancy" (MMD) measure. We discuss how these architectures can be efficiently trained on data and show in experiments that this method is more effective than previous work in removing unwanted sources of variation while maintaining informative latent representations.
We propose a stochastic gradient Markov chain Monte Carlo (SG-MCMC) algorithm for scalable inference in mixed-membership stochastic blockmodels (MMSB). Our algorithm is based on the stochastic gradient Riemannian Langevin sampler and achieves both faster speed and higher accuracy at every iteration than the current state-of-the-art algorithm based on stochastic variational inference. In addition we develop an approximation that can handle models that entertain a very large number of communities. The experimental results show that SG-MCMC strictly dominates competing algorithms in all cases.
We consider the problem of Bayesian parameter estimation for deep neural networks, which is important in problem settings where we may have little data, and/ or where we need accurate posterior predictive densities, e.g., for applications involving bandits or active learning. One simple approach to this is to use online Monte Carlo methods, such as SGLD (stochastic gradient Langevin dynamics). Unfortunately, such a method needs to store many copies of the parameters (which wastes memory), and needs to make predictions using many versions of the model (which wastes time). We describe a method for "distilling" a Monte Carlo approximation to the posterior predictive density into a more compact form, namely a single deep neural network. We compare to two very recent approaches to Bayesian neural networks, namely an approach based on expectation propagation [Hernandez-Lobato and Adams, 2015] and an approach based on variational Bayes [Blundell et al., 2015]. Our method performs better than both of these, is much simpler to implement, and uses less computation at test time.
We describe an embarrassingly parallel, anytime Monte Carlo method for likelihood-free models. The algorithm starts with the view that the stochasticity of the pseudo-samples generated by the simulator can be controlled externally by a vector of random numbers u, in such a way that the outcome, knowing u, is deterministic. For each instantiation of u we run an optimization procedure to minimize the distance between summary statistics of the simulator and the data. After reweighing these samples using the prior and the Jacobian (accounting for the change of volume in transforming from the space of summary statistics to the space of parameters) we show that this weighted ensemble represents a Monte Carlo estimate of the posterior distribution. The procedure can be run embarrassingly parallel (each node handling one sample) and anytime (by allocating resources to the worst performing sample). The procedure is validated on six experiments.
We investigate a local reparameterizaton technique for greatly reducing the variance of stochastic gradients for variational Bayesian inference (SGVB) of a posterior over model parameters, while retaining parallelizability. This local reparameterization translates uncertainty about global parameters into local noise that is independent across datapoints in the minibatch. Such parameterizations can be trivially parallelized and have variance that is inversely proportional to the minibatch size, generally leading to much faster convergence. Additionally, we explore a connection with dropout: Gaussian dropout objectives correspond to SGVB with local reparameterization, a scale-invariant prior and proportionally fixed posterior variance. Our method allows inference of more flexibly parameterized posteriors; specifically, we propose variational dropout, a generalization of Gaussian dropout where the dropout rates are learned, often leading to better models. The method is demonstrated through several experiments.
May 19 2015 stat.ML
In a range of fields including the geosciences, molecular biology, robotics and computer vision, one encounters problems that involve random variables on manifolds. Currently, there is a lack of flexible probabilistic models on manifolds that are fast and easy to train. We define an extremely flexible class of exponential family distributions on manifolds such as the torus, sphere, and rotation groups, and show that for these distributions the gradient of the log-likelihood can be computed efficiently using a non-commutative generalization of the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT). We discuss applications to Bayesian camera motion estimation (where harmonic exponential families serve as conjugate priors), and modelling of the spatial distribution of earthquakes on the surface of the earth. Our experimental results show that harmonic densities yield a significantly higher likelihood than the best competing method, while being orders of magnitude faster to train.
Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) is a powerful and elegant framework for performing inference in simulation-based models. However, due to the difficulty in scaling likelihood estimates, ABC remains useful for relatively low-dimensional problems. We introduce Hamiltonian ABC (HABC), a set of likelihood-free algorithms that apply recent advances in scaling Bayesian learning using Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (HMC) and stochastic gradients. We find that a small number forward simulations can effectively approximate the ABC gradient, allowing Hamiltonian dynamics to efficiently traverse parameter spaces. We also describe a new simple yet general approach of incorporating random seeds into the state of the Markov chain, further reducing the random walk behavior of HABC. We demonstrate HABC on several typical ABC problems, and show that HABC samples comparably to regular Bayesian inference using true gradients on a high-dimensional problem from machine learning.
Despite having various attractive qualities such as high prediction accuracy and the ability to quantify uncertainty and avoid over-fitting, Bayesian Matrix Factorization has not been widely adopted because of the prohibitive cost of inference. In this paper, we propose a scalable distributed Bayesian matrix factorization algorithm using stochastic gradient MCMC. Our algorithm, based on Distributed Stochastic Gradient Langevin Dynamics, can not only match the prediction accuracy of standard MCMC methods like Gibbs sampling, but at the same time is as fast and simple as stochastic gradient descent. In our experiments, we show that our algorithm can achieve the same level of prediction accuracy as Gibbs sampling an order of magnitude faster. We also show that our method reduces the prediction error as fast as distributed stochastic gradient descent, achieving a 4.1% improvement in RMSE for the Netflix dataset and an 1.8% for the Yahoo music dataset.
In many domains, scientists build complex simulators of natural phenomena that encode their hypotheses about the underlying processes. These simulators can be deterministic or stochastic, fast or slow, constrained or unconstrained, and so on. Optimizing the simulators with respect to a set of parameter values is common practice, resulting in a single parameter setting that minimizes an objective subject to constraints. We propose a post optimization posterior analysis that computes and visualizes all the models that can generate equally good or better simulation results, subject to constraints. These optimization posteriors are desirable for a number of reasons among which easy interpretability, automatic parameter sensitivity and correlation analysis and posterior predictive analysis. We develop a new sampling framework based on approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) with one-sided kernels. In collaboration with two groups of scientists we applied POPE to two important biological simulators: a fast and stochastic simulator of stem-cell cycling and a slow and deterministic simulator of tumor growth patterns.
Recent advances in stochastic gradient variational inference have made it possible to perform variational Bayesian inference with posterior approximations containing auxiliary random variables. This enables us to explore a new synthesis of variational inference and Monte Carlo methods where we incorporate one or more steps of MCMC into our variational approximation. By doing so we obtain a rich class of inference algorithms bridging the gap between variational methods and MCMC, and offering the best of both worlds: fast posterior approximation through the maximization of an explicit objective, with the option of trading off additional computation for additional accuracy. We describe the theoretical foundations that make this possible and show some promising first results.
In recent years a number of methods have been developed for automatically learning the (sparse) connectivity structure of Markov Random Fields. These methods are mostly based on L1-regularized optimization which has a number of disadvantages such as the inability to assess model uncertainty and expensive crossvalidation to find the optimal regularization parameter. Moreover, the model's predictive performance may degrade dramatically with a suboptimal value of the regularization parameter (which is sometimes desirable to induce sparseness). We propose a fully Bayesian approach based on a "spike and slab" prior (similar to L0 regularization) that does not suffer from these shortcomings. We develop an approximate MCMC method combining Langevin dynamics and reversible jump MCMC to conduct inference in this model. Experiments show that the proposed model learns a good combination of the structure and parameter values without the need for separate hyper-parameter tuning. Moreover, the model's predictive performance is much more robust than L1-based methods with hyper-parameter settings that induce highly sparse model structures.
Hierarchical Bayesian networks and neural networks with stochastic hidden units are commonly perceived as two separate types of models. We show that either of these types of models can often be transformed into an instance of the other, by switching between centered and differentiable non-centered parameterizations of the latent variables. The choice of parameterization greatly influences the efficiency of gradient-based posterior inference; we show that they are often complementary to eachother, we clarify when each parameterization is preferred and show how inference can be made robust. In the non-centered form, a simple Monte Carlo estimator of the marginal likelihood can be used for learning the parameters. Theoretical results are supported by experiments.
Scientists often express their understanding of the world through a computationally demanding simulation program. Analyzing the posterior distribution of the parameters given observations (the inverse problem) can be extremely challenging. The Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) framework is the standard statistical tool to handle these likelihood free problems, but they require a very large number of simulations. In this work we develop two new ABC sampling algorithms that significantly reduce the number of simulations necessary for posterior inference. Both algorithms use confidence estimates for the accept probability in the Metropolis Hastings step to adaptively choose the number of necessary simulations. Our GPS-ABC algorithm stores the information obtained from every simulation in a Gaussian process which acts as a surrogate function for the simulated statistics. Experiments on a challenging realistic biological problem illustrate the potential of these algorithms.
How can we perform efficient inference and learning in directed probabilistic models, in the presence of continuous latent variables with intractable posterior distributions, and large datasets? We introduce a stochastic variational inference and learning algorithm that scales to large datasets and, under some mild differentiability conditions, even works in the intractable case. Our contributions is two-fold. First, we show that a reparameterization of the variational lower bound with an independent noise variable yields a lower bound estimator that can be jointly optimized w.r.t. variational and generative parameters using standard gradient-based stochastic optimization methods. Second, we show that posterior inference can be made especially efficient by optimizing a probabilistic encoder (also called a recognition model) to approximate the intractable posterior, using the proposed estimator. Theoretical advantages are reflected in experimental results.
Can we make Bayesian posterior MCMC sampling more efficient when faced with very large datasets? We argue that computing the likelihood for N datapoints in the Metropolis-Hastings (MH) test to reach a single binary decision is computationally inefficient. We introduce an approximate MH rule based on a sequential hypothesis test that allows us to accept or reject samples with high confidence using only a fraction of the data required for the exact MH rule. While this method introduces an asymptotic bias, we show that this bias can be controlled and is more than offset by a decrease in variance due to our ability to draw more samples per unit of time.
The Gibbs sampler is one of the most popular algorithms for inference in statistical models. In this paper, we introduce a herding variant of this algorithm, called herded Gibbs, that is entirely deterministic. We prove that herded Gibbs has an $O(1/T)$ convergence rate for models with independent variables and for fully connected probabilistic graphical models. Herded Gibbs is shown to outperform Gibbs in the tasks of image denoising with MRFs and named entity recognition with CRFs. However, the convergence for herded Gibbs for sparsely connected probabilistic graphical models is still an open problem.
Product models of low dimensional experts are a powerful way to avoid the curse of dimensionality. We present the ``under-complete product of experts' (UPoE), where each expert models a one dimensional projection of the data. The UPoE is fully tractable and may be interpreted as a parametric probabilistic model for projection pursuit. Its ML learning rules are identical to the approximate learning rules proposed before for under-complete ICA. We also derive an efficient sequential learning algorithm and discuss its relationship to projection pursuit density estimation and feature induction algorithms for additive random field models.
While learning the maximum likelihood value of parameters of an undirected graphical model is hard, modelling the posterior distribution over parameters given data is harder. Yet, undirected models are ubiquitous in computer vision and text modelling (e.g. conditional random fields). But where Bayesian approaches for directed models have been very successful, a proper Bayesian treatment of undirected models in still in its infant stages. We propose a new method for approximating the posterior of the parameters given data based on the Laplace approximation. This approximation requires the computation of the covariance matrix over features which we compute using the linear response approximation based in turn on loopy belief propagation. We develop the theory for conditional and 'unconditional' random fields with or without hidden variables. In the conditional setting we introduce a new variant of bagging suitable for structured domains. Here we run the loopy max-product algorithm on a 'super-graph' composed of graphs for individual models sampled from the posterior and connected by constraints. Experiments on real world data validate the proposed methods.
Nonparametric Bayesian approaches to clustering, information retrieval, language modeling and object recognition have recently shown great promise as a new paradigm for unsupervised data analysis. Most contributions have focused on the Dirichlet process mixture models or extensions thereof for which efficient Gibbs samplers exist. In this paper we explore Gibbs samplers for infinite complexity mixture models in the stick breaking representation. The advantage of this representation is improved modeling flexibility. For instance, one can design the prior distribution over cluster sizes or couple multiple infinite mixture models (e.g. over time) at the level of their parameters (i.e. the dependent Dirichlet process model). However, Gibbs samplers for infinite mixture models (as recently introduced in the statistics literature) seem to mix poorly over cluster labels. Among others issues, this can have the adverse effect that labels for the same cluster in coupled mixture models are mixed up. We introduce additional moves in these samplers to improve mixing over cluster labels and to bring clusters into correspondence. An application to modeling of storm trajectories is used to illustrate these ideas.
In this paper we address the following question: Can we approximately sample from a Bayesian posterior distribution if we are only allowed to touch a small mini-batch of data-items for every sample we generate?. An algorithm based on the Langevin equation with stochastic gradients (SGLD) was previously proposed to solve this, but its mixing rate was slow. By leveraging the Bayesian Central Limit Theorem, we extend the SGLD algorithm so that at high mixing rates it will sample from a normal approximation of the posterior, while for slow mixing rates it will mimic the behavior of SGLD with a pre-conditioner matrix. As a bonus, the proposed algorithm is reminiscent of Fisher scoring (with stochastic gradients) and as such an efficient optimizer during burn-in.
Variational Bayesian inference and (collapsed) Gibbs sampling are the two important classes of inference algorithms for Bayesian networks. Both have their advantages and disadvantages: collapsed Gibbs sampling is unbiased but is also inefficient for large count values and requires averaging over many samples to reduce variance. On the other hand, variational Bayesian inference is efficient and accurate for large count values but suffers from bias for small counts. We propose a hybrid algorithm that combines the best of both worlds: it samples very small counts and applies variational updates to large counts. This hybridization is shown to significantly improve testset perplexity relative to variational inference at no computational cost.
In recent years a number of methods have been developed for automatically learning the (sparse) connectivity structure of Markov Random Fields. These methods are mostly based on L1-regularized optimization which has a number of disadvantages such as the inability to assess model uncertainty and expensive cross-validation to find the optimal regularization parameter. Moreover, the model's predictive performance may degrade dramatically with a suboptimal value of the regularization parameter (which is sometimes desirable to induce sparseness). We propose a fully Bayesian approach based on a "spike and slab" prior (similar to L0 regularization) that does not suffer from these shortcomings. We develop an approximate MCMC method combining Langevin dynamics and reversible jump MCMC to conduct inference in this model. Experiments show that the proposed model learns a good combination of the structure and parameter values without the need for separate hyper-parameter tuning. Moreover, the model's predictive performance is much more robust than L1-based methods with hyper-parameter settings that induce highly sparse model structures.
Learning the parameters of a (potentially partially observable) random field model is intractable in general. Instead of focussing on a single optimal parameter value we propose to treat parameters as dynamical quantities. We introduce an algorithm to generate complex dynamics for parameters and (both visible and hidden) state vectors. We show that under certain conditions averages computed over trajectories of the proposed dynamical system converge to averages computed over the data. Our "herding dynamics" does not require expensive operations such as exponentiation and is fully deterministic.
Latent Dirichlet analysis, or topic modeling, is a flexible latent variable framework for modeling high-dimensional sparse count data. Various learning algorithms have been developed in recent years, including collapsed Gibbs sampling, variational inference, and maximum a posteriori estimation, and this variety motivates the need for careful empirical comparisons. In this paper, we highlight the close connections between these approaches. We find that the main differences are attributable to the amount of smoothing applied to the counts. When the hyperparameters are optimized, the differences in performance among the algorithms diminish significantly. The ability of these algorithms to achieve solutions of comparable accuracy gives us the freedom to select computationally efficient approaches. Using the insights gained from this comparative study, we show how accurate topic models can be learned in several seconds on text corpora with thousands of documents.
We extend the herding algorithm to continuous spaces by using the kernel trick. The resulting "kernel herding" algorithm is an infinite memory deterministic process that learns to approximate a PDF with a collection of samples. We show that kernel herding decreases the error of expectations of functions in the Hilbert space at a rate O(1/T) which is much faster than the usual O(1/pT) for iid random samples. We illustrate kernel herding by approximating Bayesian predictive distributions.