Local Expectation Gradients for Doubly Stochastic Variational Inference

4 Mar 2015  ·  Michalis K. Titsias ·

We introduce local expectation gradients which is a general purpose stochastic variational inference algorithm for constructing stochastic gradients through sampling from the variational distribution. This algorithm divides the problem of estimating the stochastic gradients over multiple variational parameters into smaller sub-tasks so that each sub-task exploits intelligently the information coming from the most relevant part of the variational distribution. This is achieved by performing an exact expectation over the single random variable that mostly correlates with the variational parameter of interest resulting in a Rao-Blackwellized estimate that has low variance and can work efficiently for both continuous and discrete random variables. Furthermore, the proposed algorithm has interesting similarities with Gibbs sampling but at the same time, unlike Gibbs sampling, it can be trivially parallelized.

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