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Latent SDEs on Homogeneous Spaces

Sebastian Zeng · Florian Graf · Roland Kwitt

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1400
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Wed 13 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST

Abstract: We consider the problem of variational Bayesian inference in a latent variable model where a (possibly complex) observed stochastic process is governed by the unobserved solution of a latent stochastic differential equation (SDE). Motivated by the challenges that arise when trying to learn a latent SDE in $\mathbb{R}^n$ from large-scale data, such as efficient gradient computation, we take a step back and study a specific subclass instead. In our case, the SDE evolves inside a homogeneous latent space and is induced by stochastic dynamics of the corresponding (matrix) Lie group. In the context of learning problems, SDEs on the $n$-dimensional unit sphere are arguably the most relevant incarnation of this setup. For variational inference, the sphere not only facilitates using a uniform prior on the initial state of the SDE, but we also obtain a particularly simple and intuitive expression for the KL divergence between the approximate posterior and prior process in the evidence lower bound. We provide empirical evidence that a latent SDE of the proposed type can be learned efficiently by means of an existing one-step geometric Euler-Maruyama scheme. Despite restricting ourselves to a less diverse class of SDEs, we achieve competitive or even state-of-the-art performance on a collection of time series interpolation and classification benchmarks.

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