Montufar, Guido, Morton, Jason

We describe discrete restricted Boltzmann machines: probabilistic graphical models with bipartite interactions between visible and hidden discrete variables. Examples are binary restricted Boltzmann machines and discrete naive Bayes models. We detail the inference functions and distributed representations arising in these models in terms of configurations of projected products of simplices and normal fans of products of simplices. We bound the number of hidden variables, depending on the cardinalities of their state spaces, for which these models can approximate any probability distribution on their visible states to any given accuracy. In addition, we use algebraic methods and coding theory to compute their dimension.

We establish upper bounds for the minimal number of hidden units for which a binary stochastic feedforward network with sigmoid activation probabilities and a single hidden layer is a universal approximator of Markov kernels. We show that each possible probabilistic assignment of the states of $n$ output units, given the states of $k\geq1$ input units, can be approximated arbitrarily well by a network with $2^{k-1}(2^{n-1}-1)$ hidden units.

We show that deep narrow Boltzmann machines are universal approximators of probability distributions on the activities of their visible units, provided they have sufficiently many hidden layers, each containing the same number of units as the visible layer. We show that, within certain parameter domains, deep Boltzmann machines can be studied as feedforward networks. We provide upper and lower bounds on the sufficient depth and width of universal approximators. These results settle various intuitions regarding undirected networks and, in particular, they show that deep narrow Boltzmann machines are at least as compact universal approximators as narrow sigmoid belief networks and restricted Boltzmann machines, with respect to the currently available bounds for those models.

We generalize recent theoretical work on the minimal number of layers of narrow deep belief networks that can approximate any probability distribution on the states of their visible units arbitrarily well. We relax the setting of binary units (Sutskever and Hinton, 2008; Le Roux and Bengio, 2008, 2010; Mont\'ufar and Ay, 2011) to units with arbitrary finite state spaces, and the vanishing approximation error to an arbitrary approximation error tolerance. For example, we show that a $q$-ary deep belief network with $L\geq 2+\frac{q^{\lceil m-\delta \rceil}-1}{q-1}$ layers of width $n \leq m + \log_q(m) + 1$ for some $m\in \mathbb{N}$ can approximate any probability distribution on $\{0,1,\ldots,q-1\}^n$ without exceeding a Kullback-Leibler divergence of $\delta$. Our analysis covers discrete restricted Boltzmann machines and na\"ive Bayes models as special cases.

The restricted Boltzmann machine is a network of stochastic units with undirected interactions between pairs of visible and hidden units. This model was popularized as a building block of deep learning architectures and has continued to play an important role in applied and theoretical machine learning. Restricted Boltzmann machines carry a rich structure, with connections to geometry, applied algebra, probability, statistics, machine learning, and other areas. The analysis of these models is attractive in its own right and also as a platform to combine and generalize mathematical tools for graphical models with hidden variables. This article gives an introduction to the mathematical analysis of restricted Boltzmann machines, reviews recent results on the geometry of the sets of probability distributions representable by these models, and suggests a few directions for further investigation.