Variational Marginal Particle Filters

Jinlin Lai · Justin Domke · Daniel Sheldon

[ Abstract ]
Mon 28 Mar 10:15 a.m. PDT — 11:45 a.m. PDT


Variational inference for state space models (SSMs) is known to be hard in general. Recent works focus on deriving variational objectives for SSMs from unbiased sequential Monte Carlo estimators. We reveal that the marginal particle filter is obtained from sequential Monte Carlo by applying Rao-Blackwellization operations, which sacrifices the trajectory information for reduced variance and differentiability. We propose the variational marginal particle filter (VMPF), which is a differentiable and reparameterizable variational filtering objective for SSMs based on an unbiased estimator. We find that VMPF with biased gradients gives tighter bounds than previous objectives, and the unbiased reparameterization gradients are sometimes beneficial.

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