This paper presents a novel practical framework for Bayesian model averaging and model selection in probabilistic graphical models. Our approach approximates full posterior distributions over model parameters and structures, as well as latent variables, in an analytical manner.These posteriors fall out of a free-form optimization procedure, which naturally incorporates conjugate priors. Unlike in large sample approximations, the posteriors are generally non Gaussian and no Hessian needs to be computed.

Current methods for learning graphical models with latent variables and a fixed structure estimate optimal values for the model parameters. Whereas this approach usually produces overfitting and suboptimal generalization performance, carrying out the Bayesian program of computing the full posterior distributions over the parameters remains a difficult problem. Moreover, learning the structure of models with latent variables, for which the Bayesian approach is crucial, is yet a harder problem. In this paper I present the Variational Bayes framework, which provides a solution to these problems. This approach approximates full posterior distributions over model parameters and structures, as well as latent variables, in an analytical manner without resorting to sampling methods. Unlike in the Laplace approximation, these posteriors are generally non-Gaussian and no Hessian needs to be computed. The resulting algorithm generalizes the standard Expectation Maximization algorithm, and its convergence is guaranteed. I demonstrate that this algorithm can be applied to a large class of models in several domains, including unsupervised clustering and blind source separation.

This paper presents a novel practical framework for Bayesian model averaging and model selection in probabilistic graphical models. Our approach approximates full posterior distributions over model parameters and structures, as well as latent variables, in an analytical manner. These posteriors fall out of a free-form optimization procedure, which naturally incorporates conjugate priors. Unlike in large sample approximations, the posteriors are generally non Gaussian and no Hessian needs to be computed. Predictive quantities are obtained analytically. The resulting algorithm generalizes the standard Expectation Maximization algorithm, and its convergence is guaranteed. We demonstrate that this approach can be applied to a large class of models in several domains, including mixture models and source separation. 1 Introduction

Papamarkou, Theodore, Hinkle, Jacob, Young, M. Todd, Womble, David

Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods and neural networks are instrumental in tackling inferential and prediction problems. However, Bayesian inference based on joint use of MCMC methods and of neural networks is limited. This paper reviews the main challenges posed by neural networks to MCMC developments, including lack of parameter identifiability due to weight symmetries, prior specification effects, and consequently high computational cost and convergence failure. Population and manifold MCMC algorithms are combined to demonstrate these challenges via multilayer perceptron (MLP) examples and to develop case studies for assessing the capacity of approximate inference methods to uncover the posterior covariance of neural network parameters. Some of these challenges, such as high computational cost arising from the application of neural networks to big data and parameter identifiability arising from weight symmetries, stimulate research towards more scalable approximate MCMC methods or towards MCMC methods in reduced parameter spaces.

Jeffrey, Niall, Wandelt, Benjamin D.

High-dimensional probability density estimation for inference suffers from the "curse of dimensionality". For many physical inference problems, the full posterior distribution is unwieldy and seldom used in practice. Instead, we propose direct estimation of lower-dimensional marginal distributions, bypassing high-dimensional density estimation or high-dimensional Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling. By evaluating the two-dimensional marginal posteriors we can unveil the full-dimensional parameter covariance structure. We additionally propose constructing a simple hierarchy of fast neural regression models, called Moment Networks, that compute increasing moments of any desired lower-dimensional marginal posterior density; these reproduce exact results from analytic posteriors and those obtained from Masked Autoregressive Flows. We demonstrate marginal posterior density estimation using high-dimensional LIGO-like gravitational wave time series and describe applications for problems of fundamental cosmology.