Belief Propagation Neural Networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Jonathan Kuck, Shuvam Chakraborty, Hao Tang, Rachel Luo, Jiaming Song, Ashish Sabharwal, Stefano Ermon


Learned neural solvers have successfully been used to solve combinatorial optimization and decision problems. More general counting variants of these problems, however, are still largely solved with hand-crafted solvers. To bridge this gap, we introduce belief propagation neural networks (BPNNs), a class of parameterized operators that operate on factor graphs and generalize Belief Propagation (BP). In its strictest form, a BPNN layer (BPNN-D) is a learned iterative operator that provably maintains many of the desirable properties of BP for any choice of the parameters. Empirically, we show that by training BPNN-D learns to perform the task better than the original BP: it converges 1.7x faster on Ising models while providing tighter bounds. On challenging model counting problems, BPNNs compute estimates 100's of times faster than state-of-the-art handcrafted methods, while returning an estimate of comparable quality.