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Variable Selection with Rigorous Uncertainty Quantification using Deep Bayesian Neural Networks: Posterior Concentration and Bernstein-von Mises Phenomenon

Jeremiah Liu

Keywords: [ Learning Theory and Statistics ] [ Bayesian Methods ]


This work develops a theoretical basis for the deep Bayesian neural network (BNN)'s ability in performing high-dimensional variable selection with rigorous uncertainty quantification. We develop new Bayesian non-parametric theorems to show that a properly configured deep BNN (1) learns the variable importance effectively in high dimensions, and its learning rate can sometimes “break” the curse of dimensionality. (2) BNN’s uncertainty quantification for variable importance is rigorous, in the sense that its 95% credible intervals for variable importance indeed covers the truth 95% of the time (i.e. the Bernstein-von Mises (BvM) phenomenon). The theoretical results suggest a simple variable selection algorithm based on the BNN’s credible intervals. Extensive simulation confirms the theoretical findings and shows that the proposed algorithm outperforms existing classic and neural-network-based variable selection methods, particularly in high dimensions.

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