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Iterative Amortized Inference
Joe Marino · Yisong Yue · Stephan Mandt

Fri Jul 13 09:15 AM -- 12:00 PM (PDT) @ Hall B #86

Inference models are a key component in scaling variational inference to deep latent variable models, most notably as encoder networks in variational auto-encoders (VAEs). By replacing conventional optimization-based inference with a learned model, inference is amortized over data examples and therefore more computationally efficient. However, standard inference models are restricted to direct mappings from data to approximate posterior estimates. The failure of these models to reach fully optimized approximate posterior estimates results in an amortization gap. We aim toward closing this gap by proposing iterative inference models, which learn to perform inference optimization through repeatedly encoding gradients. Our approach generalizes standard inference models in VAEs and provides insight into several empirical findings, including top-down inference techniques. We demonstrate the inference optimization capabilities of iterative inference models and show that they outperform standard inference models on several benchmark data sets of images and text.

Author Information

Joe Marino (Caltech)
Yisong Yue (Caltech)
Yisong Yue

Yisong Yue is a Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences at Caltech and (via sabbatical) a Principal Scientist at Latitude AI. His research interests span both fundamental and applied pursuits, from novel learning-theoretic frameworks all the way to deep learning deployed in autonomous driving on public roads. His work has been recognized with multiple paper awards and nominations, including in robotics, computer vision, sports analytics, machine learning for health, and information retrieval. At Latitude AI, he is working on machine learning approaches to motion planning for autonomous driving.

Stephan Mandt (UC Irvine)

I am a research scientist at Disney Research Pittsburgh, where I lead the statistical machine learning group. From 2014 to 2016 I was a postdoctoral researcher with David Blei at Columbia University, and a PCCM Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University from 2012 to 2014. I did my Ph.D. with Achim Rosch at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Cologne, where I was supported by the German National Merit Scholarship.

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