NIPS Proceedingsβ

A Filtering Approach to Stochastic Variational Inference

Part of: Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27 (NIPS 2014)

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Conference Event Type: Poster


Stochastic variational inference (SVI) uses stochastic optimization to scale up Bayesian computation to massive data. We present an alternative perspective on SVI as approximate parallel coordinate ascent. SVI trades-off bias and variance to step close to the unknown true coordinate optimum given by batch variational Bayes (VB). We define a model to automate this process. The model infers the location of the next VB optimum from a sequence of noisy realizations. As a consequence of this construction, we update the variational parameters using Bayes rule, rather than a hand-crafted optimization schedule. When our model is a Kalman filter this procedure can recover the original SVI algorithm and SVI with adaptive steps. We may also encode additional assumptions in the model, such as heavy-tailed noise. By doing so, our algorithm outperforms the original SVI schedule and a state-of-the-art adaptive SVI algorithm in two diverse domains.