We describe variational inference approaches in Gaussian process state space models in terms of local linearisations of the approximate posterior function. Most previous approaches have either assumed independence between the posterior dynamics and latent states (the mean-field (MF) approximation), or optimised free parameters for both, leading to limited scalability. We use our framework to prove that (i) there is a theoretical imperative to use non-MF approaches, to avoid excessive bias in the process noise hyperparameter estimate, and (ii) we can parameterise only the posterior dynamics without any less of performance. Our approach suggests further approximations, based on the existing rich literature on filtering and smoothing for nonlinear systems, and unifies approaches for discrete and continuous time models.
Talay Cheema (University of Cambridge)
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