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Bayesian Methods

Moderator: Chris Maddison


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Thu 22 July 7:00 - 7:20 PDT

Annealed Flow Transport Monte Carlo

Michael Arbel · Alexander Matthews · Arnaud Doucet

Annealed Importance Sampling (AIS) and its Sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) extensions are state-of-the-art methods for estimating normalizing constants of probability distributions. We propose here a novel Monte Carlo algorithm, Annealed Flow Transport (AFT), that builds upon AIS and SMC and combines them with normalizing flows (NFs) for improved performance. This method transports a set of particles using not only importance sampling (IS), Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) and resampling steps - as in SMC, but also relies on NFs which are learned sequentially to push particles towards the successive annealed targets. We provide limit theorems for the resulting Monte Carlo estimates of the normalizing constant and expectations with respect to the target distribution. Additionally, we show that a continuous-time scaling limit of the population version of AFT is given by a Feynman--Kac measure which simplifies to the law of a controlled diffusion for expressive NFs. We demonstrate experimentally the benefits and limitations of our methodology on a variety of applications.

Thu 22 July 7:20 - 7:25 PDT

Nonparametric Decomposition of Sparse Tensors

Conor Tillinghast · Shandian Zhe

Tensor decomposition is a powerful framework for multiway data analysis. Despite the success of existing approaches, they ignore the sparse nature of the tensor data in many real-world applications, explicitly or implicitly assuming dense tensors. To address this model misspecification and to exploit the sparse tensor structures, we propose Nonparametric dEcomposition of Sparse Tensors (\ours), which can capture both the sparse structure properties and complex relationships between the tensor nodes to enhance the embedding estimation. Specifically, we first use completely random measures to construct tensor-valued random processes. We prove that the entry growth is much slower than that of the corresponding tensor size, which implies sparsity. Given finite observations (\ie projections), we then propose two nonparametric decomposition models that couple Dirichlet processes and Gaussian processes to jointly sample the sparse entry indices and the entry values (the latter as a nonlinear mapping of the embeddings), so as to encode both the structure properties and nonlinear relationships of the tensor nodes into the embeddings. Finally, we use the stick-breaking construction and random Fourier features to develop a scalable, stochastic variational learning algorithm. We show the advantage of our approach in sparse tensor generation, and entry index and value prediction in several real-world applications.

Thu 22 July 7:25 - 7:30 PDT

Parallel tempering on optimized paths

Saifuddin Syed · Vittorio Romaniello · Trevor Campbell · Alexandre Bouchard-Côté

Parallel tempering (PT) is a class of Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms that constructs a path of distributions annealing between a tractable reference and an intractable target, and then interchanges states along the path to improve mixing in the target. The performance of PT depends on how quickly a sample from the reference distribution makes its way to the target, which in turn depends on the particular path of annealing distributions. However, past work on PT has used only simple paths constructed from convex combinations of the reference and target log-densities. This paper begins by demonstrating that this path performs poorly in the setting where the reference and target are nearly mutually singular. To address this issue, we expand the framework of PT to general families of paths, formulate the choice of path as an optimization problem that admits tractable gradient estimates, and propose a flexible new family of spline interpolation paths for use in practice. Theoretical and empirical results both demonstrate that our proposed methodology breaks previously-established upper performance limits for traditional paths.

Thu 22 July 7:30 - 7:35 PDT

Sparse Bayesian Learning via Stepwise Regression

Sebastian Ament · Carla Gomes

Sparse Bayesian Learning (SBL) is a powerful framework for attaining sparsity in probabilistic models. Herein, we propose a coordinate ascent algorithm for SBL termed Relevance Matching Pursuit (RMP) and show that, as its noise variance parameter goes to zero, RMP exhibits a surprising connection to Stepwise Regression. Further, we derive novel guarantees for Stepwise Regression algorithms, which also shed light on RMP. Our guarantees for Forward Regression improve on deterministic and probabilistic results for Orthogonal Matching Pursuit with noise. Our analysis of Backward Regression culminates in a bound on the residual of the optimal solution to the subset selection problem that, if satisfied, guarantees the optimality of the result. To our knowledge, this bound is the first that can be computed in polynomial time and depends chiefly on the smallest singular value of the matrix. We report numerical experiments using a variety of feature selection algorithms. Notably, RMP and its limiting variant are both efficient and maintain strong performance with correlated features.

Thu 22 July 7:35 - 7:40 PDT

Geometric convergence of elliptical slice sampling

Viacheslav Natarovskii · Daniel Rudolf · Björn Sprungk

For Bayesian learning, given likelihood function and Gaussian prior, the elliptical slice sampler, introduced by Murray, Adams and MacKay 2010, provides a tool for the construction of a Markov chain for approximate sampling of the underlying posterior distribution. Besides of its wide applicability and simplicity its main feature is that no tuning is necessary. Under weak regularity assumptions on the posterior density we show that the corresponding Markov chain is geometrically ergodic and therefore yield qualitative convergence guarantees. We illustrate our result for Gaussian posteriors as they appear in Gaussian process regression in a fully Gaussian scenario, which for example is exhibited in Gaussian process regression, as well as in a setting of a multi-modal distribution. Remarkably, our numerical experiments indicate a dimension-independent performance of elliptical slice sampling even in situations where our ergodicity result does not apply.

Thu 22 July 7:40 - 7:45 PDT

Bayesian Quadrature on Riemannian Data Manifolds

Christian Fröhlich · Alexandra Gessner · Philipp Hennig · Bernhard Schölkopf · Georgios Arvanitidis

Riemannian manifolds provide a principled way to model nonlinear geometric structure inherent in data. A Riemannian metric on said manifolds determines geometry-aware shortest paths and provides the means to define statistical models accordingly. However, these operations are typically computationally demanding. To ease this computational burden, we advocate probabilistic numerical methods for Riemannian statistics. In particular, we focus on Bayesian quadrature (BQ) to numerically compute integrals over normal laws on Riemannian manifolds learned from data. In this task, each function evaluation relies on the solution of an expensive initial value problem. We show that by leveraging both prior knowledge and an active exploration scheme, BQ significantly reduces the number of required evaluations and thus outperforms Monte Carlo methods on a wide range of integration problems. As a concrete application, we highlight the merits of adopting Riemannian geometry with our proposed framework on a nonlinear dataset from molecular dynamics.

Thu 22 July 7:45 - 7:50 PDT

A Gradient Based Strategy for Hamiltonian Monte Carlo Hyperparameter Optimization

Andrew Campbell · Wenlong Chen · Vincent Stimper · Jose Miguel Hernandez-Lobato · Yichuan Zhang

Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (HMC) is one of the most successful sampling methods in machine learning. However, its performance is significantly affected by the choice of hyperparameter values. Existing approaches for optimizing the HMC hyperparameters either optimize a proxy for mixing speed or consider the HMC chain as an implicit variational distribution and optimize a tractable lower bound that can be very loose in practice. Instead, we propose to optimize an objective that quantifies directly the speed of convergence to the target distribution. Our objective can be easily optimized using stochastic gradient descent. We evaluate our proposed method and compare to baselines on a variety of problems including sampling from synthetic 2D distributions, reconstructing sparse signals, learning deep latent variable models and sampling molecular configurations from the Boltzmann distribution of a 22 atom molecule. We find that our method is competitive with or improves upon alternative baselines in all these experiments.

Thu 22 July 7:50 - 7:55 PDT