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Title: Statistical Guarantees for Transformation Based Models with applications to Implicit Variational Inference
Transformation-based methods have been an attractive approach in non-parametric inference for problems such as unconditional and conditional density estimation due to their unique hierarchical structure that models the data as flexible transformation of a set of common latent variables. More recently, transformation-based models have been used in variational inference (VI) to construct flexible implicit families of variational distributions. However, their use in both nonparametric inference and variational inference lacks theoretical justification. We provide theoretical justification for the use of non-linear latent variable models (NL-LVMs) in non-parametric inference by showing that the support of the transformation induced prior in the space of densities is sufficiently large in the L1 sense. We also show that, when a Gaussian process (GP) prior is placed on the transformation function, the posterior concentrates at the optimal rate up to a logarithmic factor. Adopting the flexibility demonstrated in the non-parametric setting, we use the NL-LVM to construct an implicit family of variational distributions, deemed GP-IVI. We delineate sufficient conditions under which GP-IVI achieves optimal risk bounds and approximates the true posterior in the sense of the Kullback–Leibler divergence. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work on providing theoretical guarantees for implicit variational inference.  more » « less
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Proceedings of Machine Learning Research
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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