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Sampling with Trusthworthy Constraints: A Variational Gradient Framework

Xingchao Liu · Xin Tong · Qiang Liu

Keywords: [ Machine Learning ] [ Interpretability ] [ Optimization ] [ Fairness ]


Sampling-based inference and learning techniques, especially Bayesian inference, provide an essential approach to handling uncertainty in machine learning (ML). As these techniques are increasingly used in daily life, it becomes essential to safeguard the ML systems with various trustworthy-related constraints, such as fairness, safety, interpretability. Mathematically, enforcing these constraints in probabilistic inference can be cast into sampling from intractable distributions subject to general nonlinear constraints, for which practical efficient algorithms are still largely missing. In this work, we propose a family of constrained sampling algorithms which generalize Langevin Dynamics (LD) and Stein Variational Gradient Descent (SVGD) to incorporate a moment constraint specified by a general nonlinear function. By exploiting the gradient flow structure of LD and SVGD, we derive two types of algorithms for handling constraints, including a primal-dual gradient approach and the constraint controlled gradient descent approach. We investigate the continuous-time mean-field limit of these algorithms and show that they have O(1/t) convergence under mild conditions. Moreover, the LD variant converges linearly assuming that a log Sobolev like inequality holds. Various numerical experiments are conducted to demonstrate the efficiency of our algorithms in trustworthy settings.

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