From Bayesian Sparsity to Gated Recurrent Nets

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS 2017)

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Hao He, Bo Xin, Satoshi Ikehata, David Wipf


The iterations of many first-order algorithms, when applied to minimizing common regularized regression functions, often resemble neural network layers with pre-specified weights. This observation has prompted the development of learning-based approaches that purport to replace these iterations with enhanced surrogates forged as DNN models from available training data. For example, important NP-hard sparse estimation problems have recently benefitted from this genre of upgrade, with simple feedforward or recurrent networks ousting proximal gradient-based iterations. Analogously, this paper demonstrates that more powerful Bayesian algorithms for promoting sparsity, which rely on complex multi-loop majorization-minimization techniques, mirror the structure of more sophisticated long short-term memory (LSTM) networks, or alternative gated feedback networks previously designed for sequence prediction. As part of this development, we examine the parallels between latent variable trajectories operating across multiple time-scales during optimization, and the activations within deep network structures designed to adaptively model such characteristic sequences. The resulting insights lead to a novel sparse estimation system that, when granted training data, can estimate optimal solutions efficiently in regimes where other algorithms fail, including practical direction-of-arrival (DOA) and 3D geometry recovery problems. The underlying principles we expose are also suggestive of a learning process for a richer class of multi-loop algorithms in other domains.