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Practical and Matching Gradient Variance Bounds for Black-Box Variational Bayesian Inference

Kyurae Kim · Kaiwen Wu · Jisu Oh · Jacob Gardner

Ballroom B


Understanding the gradient variance of black-box variational inference (BBVI) is a crucial step for establishing its convergence and developing algorithmic improvements. However, existing studies have yet to show that the gradient variance of BBVI satisfies the conditions used to study the convergence of stochastic gradient descent (SGD), the workhorse of BBVI. In this work, we show that BBVI satisfies a matching bound corresponding to the ABC condition used in the SGD literature when applied to smooth and quadratically-growing log-likelihoods. Our results generalize to nonlinear covariance parameterizations widely used in the practice of BBVI. Furthermore, we show that the variance of the mean-field parameterization has provably superior dimensional dependence.

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