The framework of normalizing flows provides a general strategy for flexible variational inference of posteriors over latent variables. We propose a new type of normalizing flow, inverse autoregressive flow (IAF), that, in contrast to earlier published flows, scales well to high-dimensional latent spaces. The proposed flow consists of a chain of invertible transformations, where each transformation is based on an autoregressive neural network. In experiments, we show that IAF significantly improves upon diagonal Gaussian approximate posteriors. In addition, we demonstrate that a novel type of variational autoencoder, coupled with IAF, is competitive with neural autoregressive models in terms of attained log-likelihood on natural images, while allowing significantly faster synthesis.
Variational inference methods often focus on the problem of efficient model optimization, with little emphasis on the choice of the approximating posterior. In this paper, we review and implement the various methods that enable us to develop a rich family of approximating posteriors. We show that one particular method employing transformations on distributions results in developing very rich and complex posterior approximation. We analyze its performance on the MNIST dataset by implementing with a Variational Autoencoder and demonstrate its effectiveness in learning better posterior distributions.
Variational inference relies on flexible approximate posterior distributions. Normalizing flows provide a general recipe to construct flexible variational posteriors. We introduce Sylvester normalizing flows, which can be seen as a generalization of planar flows. Sylvester normalizing flows remove the well-known single-unit bottleneck from planar flows, making a single transformation much more flexible. We compare the performance of Sylvester normalizing flows against planar flows and inverse autoregressive flows and demonstrate that they compare favorably on several datasets.
We reinterpret multiplicative noise in neural networks as auxiliary random variables that augment the approximate posterior in a variational setting for Bayesian neural networks. We show that through this interpretation it is both efficient and straightforward to improve the approximation by employing normalizing flows while still allowing for local reparametrizations and a tractable lower bound. In experiments we show that with this new approximation we can significantly improve upon classical mean field for Bayesian neural networks on both predictive accuracy as well as predictive uncertainty.
In this paper, we propose a new volume-preserving flow and show that it performs similarly to the linear general normalizing flow. The idea is to enrich a linear Inverse Autoregressive Flow by introducing multiple lower-triangular matrices with ones on the diagonal and combining them using a convex combination. In the experimental studies on MNIST and Histopathology data we show that the proposed approach outperforms other volume-preserving flows and is competitive with current state-of-the-art linear normalizing flow.