A Variational Analysis of Stochastic Gradient Algorithms

Stephan Mandt, Matthew Hoffman, David Blei
Proceedings of The 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 48:354-363, 2016.

Abstract

Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) is an important algorithm in machine learning. With constant learning rates, it is a stochastic process that, after an initial phase of convergence, generates samples from a stationary distribution. We show that SGD with constant rates can be effectively used as an approximate posterior inference algorithm for probabilistic modeling. Specifically, we show how to adjust the tuning parameters of SGD such as to match the resulting stationary distribution to the posterior. This analysis rests on interpreting SGD as a continuous-time stochastic process and then minimizing the Kullback-Leibler divergence between its stationary distribution and the target posterior. (This is in the spirit of variational inference.) In more detail, we model SGD as a multivariate Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process and then use properties of this process to derive the optimal parameters. This theoretical framework also connects SGD to modern scalable inference algorithms; we analyze the recently proposed stochastic gradient Fisher scoring under this perspective. We demonstrate that SGD with properly chosen constant rates gives a new way to optimize hyperparameters in probabilistic models.

Cite this Paper


BibTeX
@InProceedings{pmlr-v48-mandt16, title = {A Variational Analysis of Stochastic Gradient Algorithms}, author = {Mandt, Stephan and Hoffman, Matthew and Blei, David}, booktitle = {Proceedings of The 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning}, pages = {354--363}, year = {2016}, editor = {Balcan, Maria Florina and Weinberger, Kilian Q.}, volume = {48}, series = {Proceedings of Machine Learning Research}, address = {New York, New York, USA}, month = {20--22 Jun}, publisher = {PMLR}, pdf = {http://proceedings.mlr.press/v48/mandt16.pdf}, url = { http://proceedings.mlr.press/v48/mandt16.html }, abstract = {Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) is an important algorithm in machine learning. With constant learning rates, it is a stochastic process that, after an initial phase of convergence, generates samples from a stationary distribution. We show that SGD with constant rates can be effectively used as an approximate posterior inference algorithm for probabilistic modeling. Specifically, we show how to adjust the tuning parameters of SGD such as to match the resulting stationary distribution to the posterior. This analysis rests on interpreting SGD as a continuous-time stochastic process and then minimizing the Kullback-Leibler divergence between its stationary distribution and the target posterior. (This is in the spirit of variational inference.) In more detail, we model SGD as a multivariate Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process and then use properties of this process to derive the optimal parameters. This theoretical framework also connects SGD to modern scalable inference algorithms; we analyze the recently proposed stochastic gradient Fisher scoring under this perspective. We demonstrate that SGD with properly chosen constant rates gives a new way to optimize hyperparameters in probabilistic models.} }
Endnote
%0 Conference Paper %T A Variational Analysis of Stochastic Gradient Algorithms %A Stephan Mandt %A Matthew Hoffman %A David Blei %B Proceedings of The 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning %C Proceedings of Machine Learning Research %D 2016 %E Maria Florina Balcan %E Kilian Q. Weinberger %F pmlr-v48-mandt16 %I PMLR %P 354--363 %U http://proceedings.mlr.press/v48/mandt16.html %V 48 %X Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) is an important algorithm in machine learning. With constant learning rates, it is a stochastic process that, after an initial phase of convergence, generates samples from a stationary distribution. We show that SGD with constant rates can be effectively used as an approximate posterior inference algorithm for probabilistic modeling. Specifically, we show how to adjust the tuning parameters of SGD such as to match the resulting stationary distribution to the posterior. This analysis rests on interpreting SGD as a continuous-time stochastic process and then minimizing the Kullback-Leibler divergence between its stationary distribution and the target posterior. (This is in the spirit of variational inference.) In more detail, we model SGD as a multivariate Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process and then use properties of this process to derive the optimal parameters. This theoretical framework also connects SGD to modern scalable inference algorithms; we analyze the recently proposed stochastic gradient Fisher scoring under this perspective. We demonstrate that SGD with properly chosen constant rates gives a new way to optimize hyperparameters in probabilistic models.
RIS
TY - CPAPER TI - A Variational Analysis of Stochastic Gradient Algorithms AU - Stephan Mandt AU - Matthew Hoffman AU - David Blei BT - Proceedings of The 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning DA - 2016/06/11 ED - Maria Florina Balcan ED - Kilian Q. Weinberger ID - pmlr-v48-mandt16 PB - PMLR DP - Proceedings of Machine Learning Research VL - 48 SP - 354 EP - 363 L1 - http://proceedings.mlr.press/v48/mandt16.pdf UR - http://proceedings.mlr.press/v48/mandt16.html AB - Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) is an important algorithm in machine learning. With constant learning rates, it is a stochastic process that, after an initial phase of convergence, generates samples from a stationary distribution. We show that SGD with constant rates can be effectively used as an approximate posterior inference algorithm for probabilistic modeling. Specifically, we show how to adjust the tuning parameters of SGD such as to match the resulting stationary distribution to the posterior. This analysis rests on interpreting SGD as a continuous-time stochastic process and then minimizing the Kullback-Leibler divergence between its stationary distribution and the target posterior. (This is in the spirit of variational inference.) In more detail, we model SGD as a multivariate Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process and then use properties of this process to derive the optimal parameters. This theoretical framework also connects SGD to modern scalable inference algorithms; we analyze the recently proposed stochastic gradient Fisher scoring under this perspective. We demonstrate that SGD with properly chosen constant rates gives a new way to optimize hyperparameters in probabilistic models. ER -
APA
Mandt, S., Hoffman, M. & Blei, D.. (2016). A Variational Analysis of Stochastic Gradient Algorithms. Proceedings of The 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning, in Proceedings of Machine Learning Research 48:354-363 Available from http://proceedings.mlr.press/v48/mandt16.html .

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