Oral 6: Learning theory / Sampling methods

Moderators: Cassio de Campos · Uri Shalit


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Tue 29 March 3:30 - 3:45 PDT

Amortized Rejection Sampling in Universal Probabilistic Programming

Saeid Naderiparizi · Adam Scibior · Andreas Munk · Mehrdad Ghadiri · Atilim Gunes Baydin · Bradley Gram-Hansen · Christian Schroeder de Witt · Robert Zinkov · Philip Torr · Tom Rainforth · Yee Whye Teh · Frank Wood

Naive approaches to amortized inference in probabilistic programs with unbounded loops can produce estimators with infinite variance. This is particularly true of importance sampling inference in programs that explicitly include rejection sampling as part of the user-programmed generative procedure. In this paper we develop a new and efficient amortized importance sampling estimator. We prove finite variance of our estimator and empirically demonstrate our method's correctness and efficiency compared to existing alternatives on generative programs containing rejection sampling loops and discuss how to implement our method in a generic probabilistic programming framework.

Tue 29 March 3:45 - 4:00 PDT

Adaptive Importance Sampling meets Mirror Descent : a Bias-variance Tradeoff

Anna Korba · Fran├žois Portier

Adaptive importance sampling is a widely spread Monte Carlo technique that uses a re-weighting strategy to iteratively estimate the so-called target distribution. A major drawback of adaptive importance sampling is the large variance of the weights which is known to badly impact the accuracy of the estimates. This paper investigates a regularization strategy whose basic principle is to raise the importance weights at a certain power. This regularization parameter, that might evolve between zero and one during the algorithm, is shown (i) to balance between the bias and the variance and (ii) to be connected to the mirror descent framework. Using a kernel density estimate to build the sampling policy, the uniform convergence is established under mild conditions. Finally, several practical ways to choose the regularization parameter are discussed and the benefits of the proposed approach are illustrated empirically.

Tue 29 March 4:00 - 4:15 PDT

Loss as the Inconsistency of a Probabilistic Dependency Graph: Choose Your Model, Not Your Loss Function

Oliver Richardson

In a world blessed with a great diversity of loss functions, we argue that that choice between them is not a matter of taste or pragmatics, but of model. Probabilistic depencency graphs (PDGs) are probabilistic models that come equipped with a measure of "inconsistency". We prove that many standard loss functions arise as the inconsistency of a natural PDG describing the appropriate scenario, and use the same approach to justify a well-known connection between regularizers and priors. We also show that the PDG inconsistency captures a large class of statistical divergences, and detail benefits of thinking of them in this way, including an intuitive visual language for deriving inequalities between them. In variational inference, we find that the ELBO, a somewhat opaque objective for latent variable models, and variants of it arise for free out of uncontroversial modeling assumptions---as do simple graphical proofs of their corresponding bounds. Finally, we observe that inconsistency becomes the log partition function (free energy) in the setting where PDGs are factor graphs.

Tue 29 March 4:15 - 4:30 PDT

On the Consistency of Max-Margin Losses

Alex Nowak · Alessandro Rudi · Francis Bach

The foundational concept of Max-Margin in machine learning is ill-posed for output spaces with more than two labels such as in structured prediction. In this paper, we show that the Max-Margin loss can only be consistent to the classification task under highly restrictive assumptions on the discrete loss measuring the error between outputs. These conditions are satisfied by distances defined in tree graphs, for which we prove consistency, thus being the first losses shown to be consistent for Max-Margin beyond the binary setting. We finally address these limitations by correcting the concept of Max-Margin and introducing the Restricted-Max-Margin, where the maximization of the loss-augmented scores is maintained, but performed over a subset of the original domain. The resulting loss is also a generalization of the binary support vector machine and it is consistent under milder conditions on the discrete loss.