Stein Points


Wilson Ye Chen, Lester Mackey, Jackson Gorham, Francois-Xavier Briol, Chris Oates ;
Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 80:844-853, 2018.


An important task in computational statistics and machine learning is to approximate a posterior distribution $p(x)$ with an empirical measure supported on a set of representative points $\{x_i\}_{i=1}^n$. This paper focuses on methods where the selection of points is essentially deterministic, with an emphasis on achieving accurate approximation when $n$ is small. To this end, we present Stein Points. The idea is to exploit either a greedy or a conditional gradient method to iteratively minimise a kernel Stein discrepancy between the empirical measure and $p(x)$. Our empirical results demonstrate that Stein Points enable accurate approximation of the posterior at modest computational cost. In addition, theoretical results are provided to establish convergence of the method.

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