News Blog Paper China
Robust priors for regularized regression2020-10-06   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Induction benefits from useful priors. Penalized regression approaches, like ridge regression, shrink weights toward zero but zero association is usually not a sensible prior. Inspired by simple and robust decision heuristics humans use, we constructed non-zero priors for penalized regression models that provide robust and interpretable solutions across several tasks. Our approach enables estimates from a constrained model to serve as a prior for a more general model, yielding a principled way to interpolate between models of differing complexity. We successfully applied this approach to a number of decision and classification problems, as well as analyzing simulated brain imaging data. Models with robust priors had excellent worst-case performance. Solutions followed from the form of the heuristic that was used to derive the prior. These new algorithms can serve applications in data analysis and machine learning, as well as help in understanding how people transition from novice to expert performance.
Exact priors of finite neural networks2021-04-23   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Bayesian neural networks are theoretically well-understood only in the infinite-width limit, where Gaussian priors over network weights yield Gaussian priors over network outputs. Recent work has suggested that finite Bayesian networks may outperform their infinite counterparts, but their non-Gaussian output priors have been characterized only though perturbative approaches. Here, we derive exact solutions for the output priors for individual input examples of a class of finite fully-connected feedforward Bayesian neural networks. For deep linear networks, the prior has a simple expression in terms of the Meijer $G$-function. The prior of a finite ReLU network is a mixture of the priors of linear networks of smaller widths, corresponding to different numbers of active units in each layer. Our results unify previous descriptions of finite network priors in terms of their tail decay and large-width behavior.
Compressive Phase Retrieval: Optimal Sample Complexity with Deep Generative Priors2020-08-24   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Advances in compressive sensing provided reconstruction algorithms of sparse signals from linear measurements with optimal sample complexity, but natural extensions of this methodology to nonlinear inverse problems have been met with potentially fundamental sample complexity bottlenecks. In particular, tractable algorithms for compressive phase retrieval with sparsity priors have not been able to achieve optimal sample complexity. This has created an open problem in compressive phase retrieval: under generic, phaseless linear measurements, are there tractable reconstruction algorithms that succeed with optimal sample complexity? Meanwhile, progress in machine learning has led to the development of new data-driven signal priors in the form of generative models, which can outperform sparsity priors with significantly fewer measurements. In this work, we resolve the open problem in compressive phase retrieval and demonstrate that generative priors can lead to a fundamental advance by permitting optimal sample complexity by a tractable algorithm in this challenging nonlinear inverse problem. We additionally provide empirics showing that exploiting generative priors in phase retrieval can significantly outperform sparsity priors. These results provide support for generative priors as a new paradigm for signal recovery in a variety of contexts, both empirically and theoretically. The strengths of this paradigm are that (1) generative priors can represent some classes of natural signals more concisely than sparsity priors, (2) generative priors allow for direct optimization over the natural signal manifold, which is intractable under sparsity priors, and (3) the resulting non-convex optimization problems with generative priors can admit benign optimization landscapes at optimal sample complexity, perhaps surprisingly, even in cases of nonlinear measurements.
Algorithmic Guarantees for Inverse Imaging with Untrained Network Priors2020-03-27   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Deep neural networks as image priors have been recently introduced for problems such as denoising, super-resolution and inpainting with promising performance gains over hand-crafted image priors such as sparsity and low-rank. Unlike learned generative priors they do not require any training over large datasets. However, few theoretical guarantees exist in the scope of using untrained neural network priors for inverse imaging problems. We explore new applications and theory for untrained neural network priors. Specifically, we consider the problem of solving linear inverse problems, such as compressive sensing, as well as non-linear problems, such as compressive phase retrieval. We model images to lie in the range of an untrained deep generative network with a fixed seed. We further present a projected gradient descent scheme that can be used for both compressive sensing and phase retrieval and provide rigorous theoretical guarantees for its convergence. We also show both theoretically as well as empirically that with deep network priors, one can achieve better compression rates for the same image quality compared to hand crafted priors.
All You Need is a Good Functional Prior for Bayesian Deep Learning2020-11-25   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
The Bayesian treatment of neural networks dictates that a prior distribution is specified over their weight and bias parameters. This poses a challenge because modern neural networks are characterized by a large number of parameters, and the choice of these priors has an uncontrolled effect on the induced functional prior, which is the distribution of the functions obtained by sampling the parameters from their prior distribution. We argue that this is a hugely limiting aspect of Bayesian deep learning, and this work tackles this limitation in a practical and effective way. Our proposal is to reason in terms of functional priors, which are easier to elicit, and to "tune" the priors of neural network parameters in a way that they reflect such functional priors. Gaussian processes offer a rigorous framework to define prior distributions over functions, and we propose a novel and robust framework to match their prior with the functional prior of neural networks based on the minimization of their Wasserstein distance. We provide vast experimental evidence that coupling these priors with scalable Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling offers systematically large performance improvements over alternative choices of priors and state-of-the-art approximate Bayesian deep learning approaches. We consider this work a considerable step in the direction of making the long-standing challenge of carrying out a fully Bayesian treatment of neural networks, including convolutional neural networks, a concrete possibility.
Bayesian Optimization with Automatic Prior Selection for Data-Efficient Direct Policy Search2018-03-13   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
One of the most interesting features of Bayesian optimization for direct policy search is that it can leverage priors (e.g., from simulation or from previous tasks) to accelerate learning on a robot. In this paper, we are interested in situations for which several priors exist but we do not know in advance which one fits best the current situation. We tackle this problem by introducing a novel acquisition function, called Most Likely Expected Improvement (MLEI), that combines the likelihood of the priors and the expected improvement. We evaluate this new acquisition function on a transfer learning task for a 5-DOF planar arm and on a possibly damaged, 6-legged robot that has to learn to walk on flat ground and on stairs, with priors corresponding to different stairs and different kinds of damages. Our results show that MLEI effectively identifies and exploits the priors, even when there is no obvious match between the current situations and the priors.
Learning optimal Bayesian prior probabilities from data2021-01-03   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Noninformative uniform priors are staples of Bayesian inference, especially in Bayesian machine learning. This study challenges the assumption that they are optimal and their use in Bayesian inference yields optimal outcomes. Instead of using arbitrary noninformative uniform priors, we propose a machine learning based alternative method, learning optimal priors from data by maximizing a target function of interest. Applying na´ve Bayes text classification methodology and a search algorithm developed for this study, our system learned priors from data using the positive predictive value metric as the target function. The task was to find Wikipedia articles that had not (but should have) been categorized under certain Wikipedia categories. We conducted five sets of experiments using separate Wikipedia categories. While the baseline models used the popular Bayes-Laplace priors, the study models learned the optimal priors for each set of experiments separately before using them. The results showed that the study models consistently outperformed the baseline models with a wide margin of statistical significance (p < 0.001). The measured performance improvement of the study model over the baseline was as high as 443% with the mean value of 193% over five Wikipedia categories.
A Discriminative Latent-Variable Model for Bilingual Lexicon Induction2018-10-25   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
We introduce a novel discriminative latent-variable model for the task of bilingual lexicon induction. Our model combines the bipartite matching dictionary prior of Haghighi et al. (2008) with a state-of-the-art embedding-based approach. To train the model, we derive an efficient Viterbi EM algorithm. We provide empirical improvements on six language pairs under two metrics and show that the prior theoretically and empirically helps to mitigate the hubness problem. We also demonstrate how previous work may be viewed as a similarly fashioned latent-variable model, albeit with a different prior.
Posterior Model Adaptation With Updated Priors2020-07-02   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Classification approaches based on the direct estimation and analysis of posterior probabilities will degrade if the original class priors begin to change. We prove that a unique (up to scale) solution is possible to recover the data likelihoods for a test example from its original class posteriors and dataset priors. Given the recovered likelihoods and a set of new priors, the posteriors can be re-computed using Bayes' Rule to reflect the influence of the new priors. The method is simple to compute and allows a dynamic update of the original posteriors.
An objective prior that unifies objective Bayes and information-based inference2015-06-24   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
There are three principle paradigms of statistical inference: (i) Bayesian, (ii) information-based and (iii) frequentist inference. We describe an objective prior (the weighting or $w$-prior) which unifies objective Bayes and information-based inference. The $w$-prior is chosen to make the marginal probability an unbiased estimator of the predictive performance of the model. This definition has several other natural interpretations. From the perspective of the information content of the prior, the $w$-prior is both uniformly and maximally uninformative. The $w$-prior can also be understood to result in a uniform density of distinguishable models in parameter space. Finally we demonstrate the the $w$-prior is equivalent to the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) for regular models in the asymptotic limit. The $w$-prior appears to be generically applicable to statistical inference and is free of {\it ad hoc} regularization. The mechanism for suppressing complexity is analogous to AIC: model complexity reduces model predictivity. We expect this new objective-Bayes approach to inference to be widely-applicable to machine-learning problems including singular models.
Prior-guided Bayesian Optimization2020-06-25   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
While Bayesian Optimization (BO) is a very popular method for optimizing expensive black-box functions, it fails to leverage the experience of domain experts. This causes BO to waste function evaluations on commonly known bad regions of design choices, e.g., hyperparameters of a machine learning algorithm. To address this issue, we introduce Prior-guided Bayesian Optimization (PrBO). PrBO allows users to inject their knowledge into the optimization process in the form of priors about which parts of the input space will yield the best performance, rather than BO's standard priors over functions which are much less intuitive for users. PrBO then combines these priors with BO's standard probabilistic model to yield a posterior. We show that PrBO is more sample efficient than state-of-the-art methods without user priors and 10,000$\times$ faster than random search, on a common suite of benchmarks and a real-world hardware design application. We also show that PrBO converges faster even if the user priors are not entirely accurate and that it robustly recovers from misleading priors.
Non-Gaussian processes and neural networks at finite widths2019-09-30   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Gaussian processes are ubiquitous in nature and engineering. A case in point is a class of neural networks in the infinite-width limit, whose priors correspond to Gaussian processes. Here we perturbatively extend this correspondence to finite-width neural networks, yielding non-Gaussian processes as priors. The methodology developed herein allows us to track the flow of preactivation distributions by progressively integrating out random variables from lower to higher layers, reminiscent of renormalization-group flow. We further develop a perturbative procedure to perform Bayesian inference with weakly non-Gaussian priors.
Bayesian Neural Network Priors Revisited2021-02-12   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Isotropic Gaussian priors are the de facto standard for modern Bayesian neural network inference. However, such simplistic priors are unlikely to either accurately reflect our true beliefs about the weight distributions, or to give optimal performance. We study summary statistics of neural network weights in different networks trained using SGD. We find that fully connected networks (FCNNs) display heavy-tailed weight distributions, while convolutional neural network (CNN) weights display strong spatial correlations. Building these observations into the respective priors leads to improved performance on a variety of image classification datasets. Moreover, we find that these priors also mitigate the cold posterior effect in FCNNs, while in CNNs we see strong improvements at all temperatures, and hence no reduction in the cold posterior effect.
Reducing the Representation Error of GAN Image Priors Using the Deep Decoder2020-01-23   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Generative models, such as GANs, learn an explicit low-dimensional representation of a particular class of images, and so they may be used as natural image priors for solving inverse problems such as image restoration and compressive sensing. GAN priors have demonstrated impressive performance on these tasks, but they can exhibit substantial representation error for both in-distribution and out-of-distribution images, because of the mismatch between the learned, approximate image distribution and the data generating distribution. In this paper, we demonstrate a method for reducing the representation error of GAN priors by modeling images as the linear combination of a GAN prior with a Deep Decoder. The deep decoder is an underparameterized and most importantly unlearned natural signal model similar to the Deep Image Prior. No knowledge of the specific inverse problem is needed in the training of the GAN underlying our method. For compressive sensing and image superresolution, our hybrid model exhibits consistently higher PSNRs than both the GAN priors and Deep Decoder separately, both on in-distribution and out-of-distribution images. This model provides a method for extensibly and cheaply leveraging both the benefits of learned and unlearned image recovery priors in inverse problems.
Tractable Bayesian Learning of Tree Belief Networks2013-01-16   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
In this paper we present decomposable priors, a family of priors over structure and parameters of tree belief nets for which Bayesian learning with complete observations is tractable, in the sense that the posterior is also decomposable and can be completely determined analytically in polynomial time. This follows from two main results: First, we show that factored distributions over spanning trees in a graph can be integrated in closed form. Second, we examine priors over tree parameters and show that a set of assumptions similar to (Heckerman and al. 1995) constrain the tree parameter priors to be a compactly parameterized product of Dirichlet distributions. Beside allowing for exact Bayesian learning, these results permit us to formulate a new class of tractable latent variable models in which the likelihood of a data point is computed through an ensemble average over tree structures.
Specifying Weight Priors in Bayesian Deep Neural Networks with Empirical Bayes2019-12-28   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Stochastic variational inference for Bayesian deep neural network (DNN) requires specifying priors and approximate posterior distributions over neural network weights. Specifying meaningful weight priors is a challenging problem, particularly for scaling variational inference to deeper architectures involving high dimensional weight space. We propose MOdel Priors with Empirical Bayes using DNN (MOPED) method to choose informed weight priors in Bayesian neural networks. We formulate a two-stage hierarchical modeling, first find the maximum likelihood estimates of weights with DNN, and then set the weight priors using empirical Bayes approach to infer the posterior with variational inference. We empirically evaluate the proposed approach on real-world tasks including image classification, video activity recognition and audio classification with varying complex neural network architectures. We also evaluate our proposed approach on diabetic retinopathy diagnosis task and benchmark with the state-of-the-art Bayesian deep learning techniques. We demonstrate MOPED method enables scalable variational inference and provides reliable uncertainty quantification.
Learning Scale-Free Networks by Dynamic Node-Specific Degree Prior2015-06-17   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Learning the network structure underlying data is an important problem in machine learning. This paper introduces a novel prior to study the inference of scale-free networks, which are widely used to model social and biological networks. The prior not only favors a desirable global node degree distribution, but also takes into consideration the relative strength of all the possible edges adjacent to the same node and the estimated degree of each individual node. To fulfill this, ranking is incorporated into the prior, which makes the problem challenging to solve. We employ an ADMM (alternating direction method of multipliers) framework to solve the Gaussian Graphical model regularized by this prior. Our experiments on both synthetic and real data show that our prior not only yields a scale-free network, but also produces many more correctly predicted edges than the others such as the scale-free inducing prior, the hub-inducing prior and the $l_1$ norm.
Predictive Complexity Priors2020-07-01   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Specifying a Bayesian prior is notoriously difficult for complex models such as neural networks. Reasoning about parameters is made challenging by the high-dimensionality and over-parameterization of the space. Priors that seem benign and uninformative can have unintuitive and detrimental effects on a model's predictions. For this reason, we propose predictive complexity priors: a functional prior that is defined by comparing the model's predictions to those of a reference function. Although originally defined on the model outputs, we transfer the prior to the model parameters via a change of variables. The traditional Bayesian workflow can then proceed as usual. We apply our predictive complexity prior to modern machine learning tasks such as reasoning over neural network depth and sharing of statistical strength for few-shot learning.
A Bayesian/Information Theoretic Model of Bias Learning2019-11-14   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
In this paper the problem of learning appropriate bias for an environment of related tasks is examined from a Bayesian perspective. The environment of related tasks is shown to be naturally modelled by the concept of an {\em objective} prior distribution. Sampling from the objective prior corresponds to sampling different learning tasks from the environment. It is argued that for many common machine learning problems, although we don't know the true (objective) prior for the problem, we do have some idea of a set of possible priors to which the true prior belongs. It is shown that under these circumstances a learner can use Bayesian inference to learn the true prior by sampling from the objective prior. Bounds are given on the amount of information required to learn a task when it is simultaneously learnt with several other tasks. The bounds show that if the learner has little knowledge of the true prior, and the dimensionality of the true prior is small, then sampling multiple tasks is highly advantageous.
Provably Convergent Algorithms for Solving Inverse Problems Using Generative Models2021-05-13   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
The traditional approach of hand-crafting priors (such as sparsity) for solving inverse problems is slowly being replaced by the use of richer learned priors (such as those modeled by deep generative networks). In this work, we study the algorithmic aspects of such a learning-based approach from a theoretical perspective. For certain generative network architectures, we establish a simple non-convex algorithmic approach that (a) theoretically enjoys linear convergence guarantees for certain linear and nonlinear inverse problems, and (b) empirically improves upon conventional techniques such as back-propagation. We support our claims with the experimental results for solving various inverse problems. We also propose an extension of our approach that can handle model mismatch (i.e., situations where the generative network prior is not exactly applicable). Together, our contributions serve as building blocks towards a principled use of generative models in inverse problems with more complete algorithmic understanding.