Collaborating Authors

Preferential Bayesian Optimization Machine Learning

Bayesian optimization (BO) has emerged during the last few years as an effective approach to optimizing black-box functions where direct queries of the objective are expensive. In this paper we consider the case where direct access to the function is not possible, but information about user preferences is. Such scenarios arise in problems where human preferences are modeled, such as A/B tests or recommender systems. We present a new framework for this scenario that we call Preferential Bayesian Optimization (PBO) which allows us to find the optimum of a latent function that can only be queried through pairwise comparisons, the so-called duels. PBO extends the applicability of standard BO ideas and generalizes previous discrete dueling approaches by modeling the probability of the winner of each duel by means of a Gaussian process model with a Bernoulli likelihood. The latent preference function is used to define a family of acquisition functions that extend usual policies used in BO. We illustrate the benefits of PBO in a variety of experiments, showing that PBO needs drastically fewer comparisons for finding the optimum. According to our experiments, the way of modeling correlations in PBO is key in obtaining this advantage.

Projective Preferential Bayesian Optimization Machine Learning

Bayesian optimization is an effective method for finding extrema of a black-box function. We propose a new type of Bayesian optimization for learning user preferences in high-dimensional spaces. The central assumption is that the underlying objective function cannot be evaluated directly, but instead a minimizer along a projection can be queried, which we call a projective preferential query. The form of the query allows for feedback that is natural for a human to give, and which enables interaction. This is demonstrated in a user experiment in which the user feedback comes in the form of optimal position and orientation of a molecule adsorbing to a surface. We demonstrate that our framework is able to find a global minimum of a high-dimensional black-box function, which is an infeasible task for existing preferential Bayesian optimization frameworks that are based on pairwise comparisons.

BoTorch: Programmable Bayesian Optimization in PyTorch Machine Learning

Bayesian optimization provides sample-efficient global optimization for a broad range of applications, including automatic machine learning, molecular chemistry, and experimental design. We introduce BoTorch, a modern programming framework for Bayesian optimization. Enabled by Monte-Carlo (MC) acquisition functions and auto-differentiation, BoTorch's modular design facilitates flexible specification and optimization of probabilistic models written in PyTorch, radically simplifying implementation of novel acquisition functions. Our MC approach is made practical by a distinctive algorithmic foundation that leverages fast predictive distributions and hardware acceleration. In experiments, we demonstrate the improved sample efficiency of BoTorch relative to other popular libraries. BoTorch is open source and available at

Scalable Global Optimization via Local Bayesian Optimization Machine Learning

Bayesian optimization has recently emerged as a popular method for the sample-efficient optimization of expensive black-box functions. However, the application to high-dimensional problems with several thousand observations remains challenging, and on difficult problems Bayesian optimization is often not competitive with other paradigms. In this paper we take the view that this is due to the implicit homogeneity of the global probabilistic models and an overemphasized exploration that results from global acquisition. This motivates the design of a local probabilistic approach for global optimization of large-scale high-dimensional problems. We propose the $\texttt{TuRBO}$ algorithm that fits a collection of local models and performs a principled global allocation of samples across these models via an implicit bandit approach. A comprehensive evaluation demonstrates that $\texttt{TuRBO}$ outperforms state-of-the-art methods from machine learning and operations research on problems spanning reinforcement learning, robotics, and the natural sciences.

Parallel and Distributed Thompson Sampling for Large-scale Accelerated Exploration of Chemical Space Machine Learning

Chemical space is so large that brute force searches for new interesting molecules are infeasible. High-throughput virtual screening via computer cluster simulations can speed up the discovery process by collecting very large amounts of data in parallel, e.g., up to hundreds or thousands of parallel measurements. Bayesian optimization (BO) can produce additional acceleration by sequentially identifying the most useful simulations or experiments to be performed next. However, current BO methods cannot scale to the large numbers of parallel measurements and the massive libraries of molecules currently used in high-throughput screening. Here, we propose a scalable solution based on a parallel and distributed implementation of Thompson sampling (PDTS). We show that, in small scale problems, PDTS performs similarly as parallel expected improvement (EI), a batch version of the most widely used BO heuristic. Additionally, in settings where parallel EI does not scale, PDTS outperforms other scalable baselines such as a greedy search, $\epsilon$-greedy approaches and a random search method. These results show that PDTS is a successful solution for large-scale parallel BO.