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A variational approximate posterior for the deep Wishart process

Sebastian Ober · Laurence Aitchison

Keywords: [ Kernel Methods ] [ Generative Model ]


Recent work introduced deep kernel processes as an entirely kernel-based alternative to NNs (Aitchison et al. 2020). Deep kernel processes flexibly learn good top-layer representations by alternately sampling the kernel from a distribution over positive semi-definite matrices and performing nonlinear transformations. A particular deep kernel process, the deep Wishart process (DWP), is of particular interest because its prior can be made equivalent to deep Gaussian process (DGP) priors for kernels that can be expressed entirely in terms of Gram matrices. However, inference in DWPs has not yet been possible due to the lack of sufficiently flexible distributions over positive semi-definite matrices. Here, we give a novel approach to obtaining flexible distributions over positive semi-definite matrices by generalising the Bartlett decomposition of the Wishart probability density. We use this new distribution to develop an approximate posterior for the DWP that includes dependency across layers. We develop a doubly-stochastic inducing-point inference scheme for the DWP and show experimentally that inference in the DWP can improve performance over doing inference in a DGP with the equivalent prior.

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