Amortized Bethe Free Energy Minimization for Learning MRFs

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Sam Wiseman, Yoon Kim


We propose to learn deep undirected graphical models (i.e., MRFs) with a non-ELBO objective for which we can calculate exact gradients. In particular, we optimize a saddle-point objective deriving from the Bethe free energy approximation to the partition function. Unlike much recent work in approximate inference, the derived objective requires no sampling, and can be efficiently computed even for very expressive MRFs. We furthermore amortize this optimization with trained inference networks. Experimentally, we find that the proposed approach compares favorably with loopy belief propagation, but is faster, and it allows for attaining better held out log likelihood than other recent approximate inference schemes.