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Maximizing acquisition functions for Bayesian optimization
James Wilson · Frank Hutter · Marc Deisenroth

Thu Dec 06 07:45 AM -- 09:45 AM (PST) @ Room 517 AB #156

Bayesian optimization is a sample-efficient approach to global optimization that relies on theoretically motivated value heuristics (acquisition functions) to guide its search process. Fully maximizing acquisition functions produces the Bayes' decision rule, but this ideal is difficult to achieve since these functions are frequently non-trivial to optimize. This statement is especially true when evaluating queries in parallel, where acquisition functions are routinely non-convex, high-dimensional, and intractable. We first show that acquisition functions estimated via Monte Carlo integration are consistently amenable to gradient-based optimization. Subsequently, we identify a common family of acquisition functions, including EI and UCB, whose characteristics not only facilitate but justify use of greedy approaches for their maximization.

Author Information

James Wilson (Imperial College of London)
Frank Hutter (University of Freiburg)

Frank Hutter is a Full Professor for Machine Learning at the Computer Science Department of the University of Freiburg (Germany), where he previously was an assistant professor 2013-2017. Before that, he was at the University of British Columbia (UBC) for eight years, for his PhD and postdoc. Frank's main research interests lie in machine learning, artificial intelligence and automated algorithm design. For his 2009 PhD thesis on algorithm configuration, he received the CAIAC doctoral dissertation award for the best thesis in AI in Canada that year, and with his coauthors, he received several best paper awards and prizes in international competitions on machine learning, SAT solving, and AI planning. Since 2016 he holds an ERC Starting Grant for a project on automating deep learning based on Bayesian optimization, Bayesian neural networks, and deep reinforcement learning.

Marc Deisenroth (Imperial College London)

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