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Continuous Relaxations for Discrete Hamiltonian Monte Carlo
Zoubin Ghahramani · Yichuan Zhang · Charles Sutton · Amos Storkey

Tue Dec 04 07:00 PM -- 12:00 AM (PST) @ Harrah’s Special Events Center 2nd Floor #None

Continuous relaxations play an important role in discrete optimization, but have not seen much use in approximate probabilistic inference. Here we show that a general form of the Gaussian Integral Trick makes it possible to transform a wide class of discrete variable undirected models into fully continuous systems. The continuous representation allows the use of gradient-based Hamiltonian Monte Carlo for inference, results in new ways of estimating normalization constants (partition functions), and in general opens up a number of new avenues for inference in difficult discrete systems. We demonstrate some of these continuous relaxation inference algorithms on a number of illustrative problems.

Author Information

Zoubin Ghahramani (Uber and University of Cambridge)

Zoubin Ghahramani is Professor of Information Engineering at the University of Cambridge, where he leads the Machine Learning Group. He studied computer science and cognitive science at the University of Pennsylvania, obtained his PhD from MIT in 1995, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto. His academic career includes concurrent appointments as one of the founding members of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit in London, and as a faculty member of CMU's Machine Learning Department for over 10 years. His current research interests include statistical machine learning, Bayesian nonparametrics, scalable inference, probabilistic programming, and building an automatic statistician. He has held a number of leadership roles as programme and general chair of the leading international conferences in machine learning including: AISTATS (2005), ICML (2007, 2011), and NIPS (2013, 2014). In 2015 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Yichuan Zhang (University of Edinburgh)
Charles Sutton (Google)
Amos Storkey (University of Edinburgh)

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