Ensemble Model Patching: A Parameter-Efficient Variational Bayesian Neural Network

Two main obstacles preventing the widespread adoption of variational Bayesian neural networks are the high parameter overhead that makes them infeasible on large networks, and the difficulty of implementation, which can be thought of as "programming overhead." MC dropout [Gal and Ghahramani, 2016] is popular because it sidesteps these obstacles. Nevertheless, dropout is often harmful to model performance when used in networks with batch normalization layers [Li et al., 2018], which are an indispensable part of modern neural networks. We construct a general variational family for ensemble-based Bayesian neural networks that encompasses dropout as a special case. We further present two specific members of this family that work well with batch normalization layers, while retaining the benefits of low parameter and programming overhead, comparable to non-Bayesian training. Our proposed methods improve predictive accuracy and achieve almost perfect calibration on a ResNet-18 trained with ImageNet.

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