# Bayesian Inference

### What is Bayes Theorem?

If you've been learning about data science or machine learning, there's a good chance you've heard the term "Bayes Theorem" before, or a "Bayes classifier". These concepts can be somewhat confusing, especially if you aren't used to thinking of probability from a traditional, frequentist statistics perspective. This article will attempt to explain the principles behind Bayes Theorem and how it's used in machine learning. Bayes Theorem is a method of calculating conditional probability. The traditional method of calculating conditional probability (the probability that one event occurs given the occurrence of a different event) is to use the conditional probability formula, calculating the joint probability of event one and event two occurring at the same time, and then dividing it by the probability of event two occurring.

### On Lifting the Gibbs Sampling Algorithm

Statistical relational learning models combine the power of first-order logic, the de facto tool for handling relational structure, with that of probabilistic graphical models, the de facto tool for handling uncertainty. Lifted probabilistic inference algorithms for them have been the subject of much recent research. The main idea in these algorithms is to improve the speed, accuracy and scalability of existing graphical models' inference algorithms by exploiting symmetry in the first-order representation. In this paper, we consider blocked Gibbs sampling, an advanced variation of the classic Gibbs sampling algorithm and lift it to the first-order level. We propose to achieve this by partitioning the first-order atoms in the relational model into a set of disjoint clusters such that exact lifted inference is polynomial in each cluster given an assignment to all other atoms not in the cluster.

### Model-based Bayesian inference of neural activity and connectivity from all-optical interrogation of a neural circuit

Population activity measurement by calcium imaging can be combined with cellular resolution optogenetic activity perturbations to enable the mapping of neural connectivity in vivo. This requires accurate inference of perturbed and unperturbed neural activity from calcium imaging measurements, which are noisy and indirect, and can also be contaminated by photostimulation artifacts. We have developed a new fully Bayesian approach to jointly inferring spiking activity and neural connectivity from in vivo all-optical perturbation experiments. In contrast to standard approaches that perform spike inference and analysis in two separate maximum-likelihood phases, our joint model is able to propagate uncertainty in spike inference to the inference of connectivity and vice versa. We use the framework of variational autoencoders to model spiking activity using discrete latent variables, low-dimensional latent common input, and sparse spike-and-slab generalized linear coupling between neurons.

### Projected Stein Variational Newton: A Fast and Scalable Bayesian Inference Method in High Dimensions

We propose a projected Stein variational Newton (pSVN) method for high-dimensional Bayesian inference. To address the curse of dimensionality, we exploit the intrinsic low-dimensional geometric structure of the posterior distribution in the high-dimensional parameter space via its Hessian (of the log posterior) operator and perform a parallel update of the parameter samples projected into a low-dimensional subspace by an SVN method. The subspace is adaptively constructed using the eigenvectors of the averaged Hessian at the current samples. We demonstrate fast convergence of the proposed method, complexity independent of the parameter and sample dimensions, and parallel scalability. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.

### Computational Separations between Sampling and Optimization

Two commonly arising computational tasks in Bayesian learning are Optimization (Maximum A Posteriori estimation) and Sampling (from the posterior distribution). In the convex case these two problems are efficiently reducible to each other. Recent work (Ma et al. 2019) shows that in the non-convex case, sampling can sometimes be provably faster. We present a simpler and stronger separation. We then compare sampling and optimization in more detail and show that they are provably incomparable: there are families of continuous functions for which optimization is easy but sampling is NP-hard, and vice versa.

### A Simple Baseline for Bayesian Uncertainty in Deep Learning

We propose SWA-Gaussian (SWAG), a simple, scalable, and general purpose approach for uncertainty representation and calibration in deep learning. Stochastic Weight Averaging (SWA), which computes the first moment of stochastic gradient descent (SGD) iterates with a modified learning rate schedule, has recently been shown to improve generalization in deep learning. With SWAG, we fit a Gaussian using the SWA solution as the first moment and a low rank plus diagonal covariance also derived from the SGD iterates, forming an approximate posterior distribution over neural network weights; we then sample from this Gaussian distribution to perform Bayesian model averaging. We empirically find that SWAG approximates the shape of the true posterior, in accordance with results describing the stationary distribution of SGD iterates. Moreover, we demonstrate that SWAG performs well on a wide variety of tasks, including out of sample detection, calibration, and transfer learning, in comparison to many popular alternatives including variational inference, MC dropout, KFAC Laplace, and temperature scaling.

### Learning Hawkes Processes from a handful of events

Learning the causal-interaction network of multivariate Hawkes processes is a useful task in many applications. Maximum-likelihood estimation is the most common approach to solve the problem in the presence of long observation sequences. However, when only short sequences are available, the lack of data amplifies the risk of overfitting and regularization becomes critical. Due to the challenges of hyper-parameter tuning, state-of-the-art methods only parameterize regularizers by a single shared hyper-parameter, hence limiting the power of representation of the model. To solve both issues, we develop in this work an efficient algorithm based on variational expectation-maximization.

### Streaming Bayesian Inference for Crowdsourced Classification

A key challenge in crowdsourcing is inferring the ground truth from noisy and unreliable data. To do so, existing approaches rely on collecting redundant information from the crowd, and aggregating it with some probabilistic method. However, oftentimes such methods are computationally inefficient, are restricted to some specific settings, or lack theoretical guarantees. In this paper, we revisit the problem of binary classification from crowdsourced data. Specifically we propose Streaming Bayesian Inference for Crowdsourcing (SBIC), a new algorithm that does not suffer from any of these limitations.

### Leveraging Labeled and Unlabeled Data for Consistent Fair Binary Classification

We study the problem of fair binary classification using the notion of Equal Opportunity. It requires the true positive rate to distribute equally across the sensitive groups. Within this setting we show that the fair optimal classifier is obtained by recalibrating the Bayes classifier by a group-dependent threshold. We provide a constructive expression for the threshold. This result motivates us to devise a plug-in classification procedure based on both unlabeled and labeled datasets.

### Debiased Bayesian inference for average treatment effects

Bayesian approaches have become increasingly popular in causal inference problems due to their conceptual simplicity, excellent performance and in-built uncertainty quantification ('posterior credible sets'). We investigate Bayesian inference for average treatment effects from observational data, which is a challenging problem due to the missing counterfactuals and selection bias. Working in the standard potential outcomes framework, we propose a data-driven modification to an arbitrary (nonparametric) prior based on the propensity score that corrects for the first-order posterior bias, thereby improving performance. We illustrate our method for Gaussian process (GP) priors using (semi-)synthetic data. Our experiments demonstrate significant improvement in both estimation accuracy and uncertainty quantification compared to the unmodified GP, rendering our approach highly competitive with the state-of-the-art.