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Workshop: Machine Learning and the Physical Sciences

One Network to Approximate Them All: Amortized Variational Inference of Ising Ground States

Sebastian Sanokowski · Wilhelm Berghammer · Johannes Kofler · Sepp Hochreiter · Sebastian Lehner


For a wide range of combinatorial optimization problems, finding the optimal solutions is equivalent to finding the ground states of corresponding Ising Hamiltonians. Recent work shows that these ground states are found more efficiently by variational approaches using autoregressive models than by traditional methods. In contrast to previous works, where for every problem instance a new model has to be trained, we aim at a single model that approximates the ground states for a whole family of Hamiltonians. We demonstrate that autoregregressive neural networks can be trained to achieve this goal and are able to generalize across a class of problems. We iteratively approximate the ground state based on a representation of the Hamiltonian that is provided by a graph neural network. Our experiments show that solving a large number of related problem instances by a single model can be considerably more efficient than solving them individually.

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