Implicit Mixtures of Restricted Boltzmann Machines

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 21 (NIPS 2008)

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Vinod Nair, Geoffrey E. Hinton


We present a mixture model whose components are Restricted Boltzmann Machines (RBMs). This possibility has not been considered before because computing the partition function of an RBM is intractable, which appears to make learning a mixture of RBMs intractable as well. Surprisingly, when formulated as a third-order Boltzmann machine, such a mixture model can be learned tractably using contrastive divergence. The energy function of the model captures three-way interactions among visible units, hidden units, and a single hidden multinomial unit that represents the cluster labels. The distinguishing feature of this model is that, unlike other mixture models, the mixing proportions are not explicitly parameterized. Instead, they are defined implicitly via the energy function and depend on all the parameters in the model. We present results for the MNIST and NORB datasets showing that the implicit mixture of RBMs learns clusters that reflect the class structure in the data.