Amortised Learning by Wake-Sleep

Jul 12, 2020

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Models that employ latent variables to capture structure in observed data lie at the heart of many current unsupervised learning algorithms, but exact maximum-likelihood learning for powerful and flexible latent-variable models is almost always intractable. Thus, state-of-the-art approaches either abandon the maximum-likelihood framework entirely, or else rely on a variety of variational approximations to the posterior distribution over the latents. Here, we propose an alternative approach that we call amortised learning. Rather than computing an approximation to the posterior over latents, we use a wake-sleep Monte-Carlo strategy to learn a function that directly estimates the maximum-likelihood parameter updates. Amortised learning is possible whenever samples of latents and observations can be simulated from the generative model, treating the model as a “black box”. We demonstrate its effectiveness on a wide range of complex models, including those with latents that are discrete or supported on non-Euclidean spaces.

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About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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