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Transforming Gaussian Processes With Normalizing Flows

Juan Maroñas · Oliver Hamelijnck · Jeremias Knoblauch · Theodoros Damoulas

Keywords: [ Models and Methods ] [ Gaussian Processes ]


Gaussian Processes (GP) can be used as flexible, non-parametric function priors. Inspired by the growing body of work on Normalizing Flows, we enlarge this class of priors through a parametric invertible transformation that can be made input-dependent. Doing so also allows us to encode interpretable prior knowledge (e.g., boundedness constraints). We derive a variational approximation to the resulting Bayesian inference problem, which is as fast as stochastic variational GP regression (Hensman et al., 2013; Dezfouli and Bonilla, 2015). This makes the model a computationally efficient alternative to other hierarchical extensions of GP priors (Lázaro-Gredilla,2012; Damianou and Lawrence,2013). The resulting algorithm's computational and inferential performance is excellent, and we demonstrate this on a range of data sets. For example, even with only 5 inducing points and an input-dependent flow, our method is consistently competitive with a standard sparse GP fitted using 100 inducing points.

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