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A Scalable Gradient Free Method for Bayesian Experimental Design with Implicit Models

Jiaxin Zhang · Sirui Bi · Guannan Zhang

Keywords: [ Learning Theory and Statistics ] [ Other Theory / Statistics ]


Bayesian experimental design (BED) is to answer the question that how to choose designs that maximize the information gathering. For implicit models, where the likelihood is intractable but sampling is possible, conventional BED methods have difficulties in efficiently estimating the posterior distribution and maximizing the mutual information (MI) between data and parameters. Recent work proposed the use of gradient ascent to maximize a lower bound on MI to deal with these issues. However, the approach requires a sampling path to compute the pathwise gradient of the MI lower bound with respect to the design variables, and such a pathwise gradient is usually inaccessible for implicit models. In this paper, we propose a novel approach that leverages recent advances in stochastic approximate gradient ascent incorporated with a smoothed variational MI estimator for efficient and robust BED. Without the necessity of pathwise gradients, our approach allows the design process to be achieved through a unified procedure with an approximate gradient for implicit models. Several experiments show that our approach outperforms baseline methods, and significantly improves the scalability of BED in high-dimensional problems

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