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Spotlight
Efficient semidefinite-programming-based inference for binary and multi-class MRFs
Chirag Pabbaraju · Po-Wei Wang · J. Zico Kolter

Wed Dec 09 08:30 AM -- 08:40 AM (PST) @ Orals & Spotlights: Probabilistic/Causality

Probabilistic inference in pairwise Markov Random Fields (MRFs), i.e. computing the partition function or computing a MAP estimate of the variables, is a foundational problem in probabilistic graphical models. Semidefinite programming relaxations have long been a theoretically powerful tool for analyzing properties of probabilistic inference, but have not been practical owing to the high computational cost of typical solvers for solving the resulting SDPs. In this paper, we propose an efficient method for computing the partition function or MAP estimate in a pairwise MRF by instead exploiting a recently proposed coordinate-descent-based fast semidefinite solver. We also extend semidefinite relaxations from the typical binary MRF to the full multi-class setting, and develop a compact semidefinite relaxation that can again be solved efficiently using the solver. We show that the method substantially outperforms (both in terms of solution quality and speed) the existing state of the art in approximate inference, on benchmark problems drawn from previous work. We also show that our approach can scale to large MRF domains such as fully-connected pairwise CRF models used in computer vision.

Author Information

Chirag Pabbaraju (Carnegie Mellon University)
Po-Wei Wang (Carnegie Mellon University)
J. Zico Kolter (Carnegie Mellon University / Bosch Center for AI)

Zico Kolter is an Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and also serves as Chief Scientist of AI Research for the Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence. His work focuses on the intersection of machine learning and optimization, with a large focus on developing more robust, explainable, and rigorous methods in deep learning. In addition, he has worked on a number of application areas, highlighted by work on sustainability and smart energy systems. He is the recipient of the DARPA Young Faculty Award, and best paper awards at KDD, IJCAI, and PESGM.

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