Maddox, Wesley, Garipov, Timur, Izmailov, Pavel, Vetrov, Dmitry, Wilson, Andrew Gordon

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 computer vision tasks, including out of sample detection, calibration, and transfer learning, in comparison to many popular alternatives including MC dropout, KFAC Laplace, and temperature scaling.

Mitros, John, Mac Namee, Brian

Deep neural networks (DNN) are versatile parametric models utilised successfully in a diverse number of tasks and domains. However, they have limitations---particularly from their lack of robustness and over-sensitivity to out of distribution samples. Bayesian Neural Networks, due to their formulation under the Bayesian framework, provide a principled approach to building neural networks that address these limitations. This paper describes a study that empirically evaluates and compares Bayesian Neural Networks to their equivalent point estimate Deep Neural Networks to quantify the predictive uncertainty induced by their parameters, as well as their performance in view of this uncertainty. In this study, we evaluated and compared three point estimate deep neural networks against comparable Bayesian neural network alternatives using two well-known benchmark image classification datasets (CIFAR-10 and SVHN).

Mandt, Stephan, Hoffman, Matthew D., Blei, David M.

Stochastic Gradient Descent with a constant learning rate (constant SGD) simulates a Markov chain with a stationary distribution. With this perspective, we derive several new results. (1) We show that constant SGD can be used as an approximate Bayesian posterior inference algorithm. Specifically, we show how to adjust the tuning parameters of constant SGD to best match the stationary distribution to a posterior, minimizing the Kullback-Leibler divergence between these two distributions. (2) We demonstrate that constant SGD gives rise to a new variational EM algorithm that optimizes hyperparameters in complex probabilistic models. (3) We also propose SGD with momentum for sampling and show how to adjust the damping coefficient accordingly. (4) We analyze MCMC algorithms. For Langevin Dynamics and Stochastic Gradient Fisher Scoring, we quantify the approximation errors due to finite learning rates. Finally (5), we use the stochastic process perspective to give a short proof of why Polyak averaging is optimal. Based on this idea, we propose a scalable approximate MCMC algorithm, the Averaged Stochastic Gradient Sampler.

Izmailov, Pavel, Maddox, Wesley J., Kirichenko, Polina, Garipov, Timur, Vetrov, Dmitry, Wilson, Andrew Gordon

Bayesian inference was once a gold standard for learning with neural networks, providing accurate full predictive distributions and well calibrated uncertainty. However, scaling Bayesian inference techniques to deep neural networks is challenging due to the high dimensionality of the parameter space. In this paper, we construct low-dimensional subspaces of parameter space, such as the first principal components of the stochastic gradient descent (SGD) trajectory, which contain diverse sets of high performing models. In these subspaces, we are able to apply elliptical slice sampling and variational inference, which struggle in the full parameter space. We show that Bayesian model averaging over the induced posterior in these subspaces produces accurate predictions and well calibrated predictive uncertainty for both regression and image classification.

Mandt, Stephan, Hoffman, Matthew D., Blei, David M.

Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) is an important algorithm in machine learning. With constant learning rates, it is a stochastic process that, after an initial phase of convergence, generates samples from a stationary distribution. We show that SGD with constant rates can be effectively used as an approximate posterior inference algorithm for probabilistic modeling. Specifically, we show how to adjust the tuning parameters of SGD such as to match the resulting stationary distribution to the posterior. This analysis rests on interpreting SGD as a continuous-time stochastic process and then minimizing the Kullback-Leibler divergence between its stationary distribution and the target posterior. (This is in the spirit of variational inference.) In more detail, we model SGD as a multivariate Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process and then use properties of this process to derive the optimal parameters. This theoretical framework also connects SGD to modern scalable inference algorithms; we analyze the recently proposed stochastic gradient Fisher scoring under this perspective. We demonstrate that SGD with properly chosen constant rates gives a new way to optimize hyperparameters in probabilistic models.