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Workshop: NeurIPS 2023 Workshop: Machine Learning and the Physical Sciences

MCMC to address model misspecification in Deep Learning classification of Radio Galaxies

Devina Mohan · Anna Scaife


The radio astronomy community is adopting deep learning techniques to deal with the huge data volumes expected from the next-generation of radio observatories. Bayesian neural networks (BNNs) provide a principled way to model uncertainty in the predictions made by deep learning models and will play an important role in extracting well-calibrated uncertainty estimates from the outputs of these models. However, most commonly used approximate Bayesian inference techniques such as variational inference and MCMC-based algorithms experience a "cold posterior effect (CPE)", according to which the posterior must be down-weighted in order to get good predictive performance. The CPE has been linked to several factors such as data augmentation or dataset curation leading to a misspecified likelihood and prior misspecification. In this work we use MCMC sampling to show that a Gaussian parametric family is a poor variational approximation to the true posterior and gives rise to the CPE previously observed in morphological classification of radio galaxies using variational inference based BNNs.

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