Variational Classification

17 May 2023  ·  Shehzaad Dhuliawala, Mrinmaya Sachan, Carl Allen ·

We present a latent variable model for classification that provides a novel probabilistic interpretation of neural network softmax classifiers. We derive a variational objective to train the model, analogous to the evidence lower bound (ELBO) used to train variational auto-encoders, that generalises the softmax cross-entropy loss. Treating inputs to the softmax layer as samples of a latent variable, our abstracted perspective reveals a potential inconsistency between their anticipated distribution, required for accurate label predictions, and their empirical distribution found in practice. We augment the variational objective to mitigate such inconsistency and induce a chosen latent distribution, instead of the implicit assumption found in a standard softmax layer. Overall, we provide new theoretical insight into the inner workings of widely-used softmax classifiers. Empirical evaluation on image and text classification datasets demonstrates that our proposed approach, variational classification, maintains classification accuracy while the reshaped latent space improves other desirable properties of a classifier, such as calibration, adversarial robustness, robustness to distribution shift and sample efficiency useful in low data settings.

PDF Abstract

Results from the Paper

  Submit results from this paper to get state-of-the-art GitHub badges and help the community compare results to other papers.