Wormholes Improve Contrastive Divergence

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 16 (NIPS 2003)

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Max Welling, Andriy Mnih, Geoffrey E. Hinton


In models that define probabilities via energies, maximum likelihood learning typically involves using Markov Chain Monte Carlo to sample from the model’s distribution. If the Markov chain is started at the data distribution, learning often works well even if the chain is only run for a few time steps [3]. But if the data distribution contains modes separated by regions of very low density, brief MCMC will not ensure that different modes have the correct relative energies because it cannot move particles from one mode to another. We show how to improve brief MCMC by allowing long-range moves that are suggested by the data distribution. If the model is approximately correct, these long-range moves have a reasonable acceptance rate.