Wang, Nan, Melchior, Jan, Wiskott, Laurenz

We present a theoretical analysis of Gaussian-binary restricted Boltzmann machines (GRBMs) from the perspective of density models. The key aspect of this analysis is to show that GRBMs can be formulated as a constrained mixture of Gaussians, which gives a much better insight into the model's capabilities and limitations. We show that GRBMs are capable of learning meaningful features both in a two-dimensional blind source separation task and in modeling natural images. Further, we show that reported difficulties in training GRBMs are due to the failure of the training algorithm rather than the model itself. Based on our analysis we are able to propose several training recipes, which allowed successful and fast training in our experiments. Finally, we discuss the relationship of GRBMs to several modifications that have been proposed to improve the model.

Panella, Alessandro (University of Illinois at Chicago)

When operating in stochastic, partially observable, multiagent settings, it is crucial to accurately predict the actions of other agents. In my thesis work, I propose methodologies for learning the policy of external agents from their observed behavior, in the form of finite state controllers. To perform this task, I adopt Bayesian learning algorithms based on nonparametric prior distributions, that provide the flexibility required to infer models of unknown complexity. These methods are to be embedded in decision making frameworks for autonomous planning in partially observable multiagent systems.

We analyze the asymptotic behavior of agents engaged in an infinite horizon partially observable stochastic game as formalized by the interactive POMDP framework. We show that when agents' initial beliefs satisfy a truth compatibility condition, their behavior converges to a subjective ɛ-equilibrium in a finite time, and subjective equilibrium in the limit. This result is a generalization of a similar result in repeated games, to partially observable stochastic games. However, it turns out that the equilibrating process is difficult to demonstrate computationally because of the difficulty in coming up with initial beliefs that are both natural and satisfy the truth compatibility condition. Our results, therefore, shed some negative light on using equilibria as a solution concept for decision making in partially observable stochastic games.

Baker, Jack, Fearnhead, Paul, Fox, Emily, Nemeth, Christopher

Stochastic gradient Markov chain Monte Carlo (SGMCMC) has become a popular method for scalable Bayesian inference. These methods are based on sampling a discrete-time approximation to a continuous time process, such as the Langevin diffusion. When applied to distributions defined on a constrained space the time-discretization error can dominate when we are near the boundary of the space. We demonstrate that because of this, current SGMCMC methods for the simplex struggle with sparse simplex spaces; when many of the components are close to zero. Unfortunately, many popular large-scale Bayesian models, such as network or topic models, require inference on sparse simplex spaces. To avoid the biases caused by this discretization error, we propose the stochastic Cox-Ingersoll-Ross process (SCIR), which removes all discretization error and we prove that samples from the SCIR process are asymptotically unbiased. We discuss how this idea can be extended to target other constrained spaces. Use of the SCIR process within a SGMCMC algorithm is shown to give substantially better performance for a topic model and a Dirichlet process mixture model than existing SGMCMC approaches.

Middleton, Lawrence, Deligiannidis, George, Doucet, Arnaud, Jacob, Pierre E.

We consider the approximation of expectations with respect to the distribution of a latent Markov process given noisy measurements. This is known as the smoothing problem and is often approached with particle and Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods. These methods provide consistent but biased estimators when run for a finite time. We propose a simple way of coupling two MCMC chains built using Particle Independent Metropolis-Hastings (PIMH) to produce unbiased smoothing estimators. Unbiased estimators are appealing in the context of parallel computing, and facilitate the construction of confidence intervals. The proposed scheme only requires access to off-the-shelf Particle Filters (PF) and is thus easier to implement than recently proposed unbiased smoothers. The approach is demonstrated on a L\'evy-driven stochastic volatility model and a stochastic kinetic model.