Oral 2: Bayesian methods / Sampling methods

Moderators: Aaron Schein · Daniel Hernandez-Lobato


Chat is not available.

Mon 28 March 2:30 - 2:45 PDT

Differentiable Bayesian inference of SDE parameters using a pathwise series expansion of Brownian motion

Sanmitra Ghosh · Paul J. Birrell · Daniela De Angelis

By invoking a pathwise series expansion of Brownian motion, we propose to approximate a stochastic differential equation (SDE) with an ordinary differential equation (ODE). This allows us to reformulate Bayesian inference for a SDE as the parameter estimation task for an ODE. Unlike a nonlinear SDE, the likelihood for an ODE model is tractable and its gradient can be obtained using adjoint sensitivity analysis. This reformulation allows us to use an efficient sampler, such as NUTS, that rely on the gradient of the log posterior. Applying the reparameterisation trick, variational inference can also be used for the same estimation task. We illustrate the proposed method on a variety of SDE models. We obtain similar parameter estimates when compared to data augmentation techniques.

Mon 28 March 2:45 - 3:00 PDT

Nonparametric Relational Models with Superrectangulation

Masahiro Nakano · Ryo Nishikimi · Yasuhiro Fujiwara · Akisato Kimura · Takeshi Yamada · Naonori Ueda

This paper addresses the question, ''What is the smallest object that contains all rectangular partitions with n or fewer blocks?'' and shows its application to relational data analysis using a new strategy we call super Bayes as an alternative to Bayesian nonparametric (BNP) methods. Conventionally, standard BNP methods have combined the Aldous-Hoover-Kallenberg representation with parsimonious stochastic processes on rectangular partitioning to construct BNP relational models. As a result, conventional methods face the great difficulty of searching for a parsimonious random rectangular partition that fits the observed data well in Bayesian inference. As a way to essentially avoid such a problem, we propose a strategy to combine an extremely redundant rectangular partition as a deterministic (non-probabilistic) object. Specifically, we introduce a special kind of rectangular partitioning, which we call superrectangulation, that contains all possible rectangular partitions. Delightfully, this strategy completely eliminates the difficult task of searching around for random rectangular partitions, since the superrectangulation is deterministically fixed in inference. Experiments on predictive performance in relational data analysis show that the super Bayesian model provides a more stable analysis than the existing BNP models, which are less likely to be trapped in bad local optima.

Mon 28 March 3:00 - 3:15 PDT

Best Paper Award Nomination
Robust Bayesian Inference for Simulator-based Models via the MMD Posterior Bootstrap

Charita Dellaporta · Jeremias Knoblauch · Theodoros Damoulas · Francois-Xavier Briol

Simulator-based models are models for which the likelihood is intractable but simulation of synthetic data is possible. They are often used to describe complex real-world phenomena, and as such can often be misspecified in practice. Unfortunately, existing Bayesian approaches for simulators are known to perform poorly in those cases. In this paper, we propose a novel algorithm based on the posterior bootstrap and maximum mean discrepancy estimators. This leads to a highly-parallelisable Bayesian inference algorithm with strong robustness properties. This is demonstrated through an in-depth theoretical study which includes generalisation bounds and proofs of frequentist consistency and robustness of our posterior. The approach is then assessed on a range of examples including a g-and-k distribution and a toggle-switch model.

Mon 28 March 3:15 - 3:30 PDT

Unifying Importance Based Regularisation Methods for Continual Learning

Frederik Benzing

Continual Learning addresses the challenge of learning a number of different tasks sequentially. The goal of maintaining knowledge of earlier tasks without re-accessing them starkly conflicts with standard SGD training for artificial neural networks. An influential method to tackle this problem without storing old data are so-called regularisation approaches. They measure the importance of each parameter for solving a given task and subsequently protect important parameters from large changes. In the literature, three ways to measure parameter importance have been put forward and they have inspired a large body of follow-up work. Here, we present strong theoretical and empirical evidence that these three methods, Elastic Weight Consolidation (EWC), Synaptic Intelligence (SI) and Memory Aware Synapses (MAS), are surprisingly similar and are all linked to the same theoretical quantity. Concretely, we show that, despite stemming from very different motivations, both SI and MAS approximate the square root of the Fisher Information, with the Fisher being the theoretically justified basis of EWC. Moreover, we show that for SI the relation to the Fisher -- and in fact its performance -- is due to a previously unknown bias. On top of uncovering unknown similarities and unifying regularisation approaches, we also demonstrate that our insights enable practical performance improvements for large batch training.