Approximating MAP by Compensating for Structural Relaxations

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22 (NIPS 2009)

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Arthur Choi, Adnan Darwiche


We introduce a new perspective on approximations to the maximum a posteriori (MAP) task in probabilistic graphical models, that is based on simplifying a given instance, and then tightening the approximation. First, we start with a structural relaxation of the original model. We then infer from the relaxation its deficiencies, and compensate for them. This perspective allows us to identify two distinct classes of approximations. First, we find that max-product belief propagation can be viewed as a way to compensate for a relaxation, based on a particular idealized case for exactness. We identify a second approach to compensation that is based on a more refined idealized case, resulting in a new approximation with distinct properties. We go on to propose a new class of algorithms that, starting with a relaxation, iteratively yields tighter approximations.