End-to-End Meta-Bayesian Optimisation with Transformer Neural Processes

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Alexandre Maraval, Matthieu Zimmer, Antoine Grosnit, Haitham Bou Ammar


Meta-Bayesian optimisation (meta-BO) aims to improve the sample efficiency of Bayesian optimisation by leveraging data from related tasks. While previous methods successfully meta-learn either a surrogate model or an acquisition function independently, joint training of both components remains an open challenge. This paper proposes the first end-to-end differentiable meta-BO framework that generalises neural processes to learn acquisition functions via transformer architectures. We enable this end-to-end framework with reinforcement learning (RL) to tackle the lack of labelled acquisition data. Early on, we notice that training transformer-based neural processes from scratch with RL is challenging due to insufficient supervision, especially when rewards are sparse. We formalise this claim with a combinatorial analysis showing that the widely used notion of regret as a reward signal exhibits a logarithmic sparsity pattern in trajectory lengths. To tackle this problem, we augment the RL objective with an auxiliary task that guides part of the architecture to learn a valid probabilistic model as an inductive bias. We demonstrate that our method achieves state-of-the-art regret results against various baselines in experiments on standard hyperparameter optimisation tasks and also outperforms others in the real-world problems of mixed-integer programming tuning, antibody design, and logic synthesis for electronic design automation.