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  1. Aleatoric uncertainty captures the inherent randomness of the data, such as measurement noise. In Bayesian regression, we often use a Gaussian observation model, where we control the level of aleatoric uncertainty with a noise variance parameter. By contrast, for Bayesian classification we use a categorical distribution with no mechanism to represent our beliefs about aleatoric uncertainty. Our work shows that explicitly accounting for aleatoric uncertainty significantly improves the performance of Bayesian neural networks. We note that many standard benchmarks, such as CIFAR-10, have essentially no aleatoric uncertainty. Moreover, we show that data augmentation in approximate inference softens the likelihood, leading to underconfidence and misrepresenting our beliefs about aleatoric uncertainty. Accordingly, we find that a cold posterior, tempered by a power greater than one, often more honestly reflects our beliefs about aleatoric uncertainty than no tempering --- providing an explicit link between data augmentation and cold posteriors. We further show that we can match or exceed the performance of posterior tempering by using a Dirichlet observation model, where we explicitly control the level of aleatoric uncertainty, without any need for tempering. 
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  2. A broad class of stochastic volatility models are defined by systems of stochastic differential equations, and while these models have seen widespread success in domains such as finance and statistical climatology, they typically lack an ability to condition on historical data to produce a true posterior distribution. To address this fundamental limitation, we show how to re-cast a class of stochastic volatility models as a hierarchical Gaussian process (GP) model with specialized covariance functions. This GP model retains the inductive biases of the stochastic volatility model while providing the posterior predictive distribution given by GP inference. Within this framework, we take inspiration from well studied domains to introduce a new class of models, Volt and Magpie, that significantly outperform baselines in stock and wind speed forecasting, and naturally extend to the multitask setting. 
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  3. Low-precision arithmetic has had a transformative effect on the training of neural networks, reducing computation, memory and energy requirements. However, despite its promise, low-precision arithmetic has received little attention for Gaussian processes (GPs), largely because GPs require sophisticated linear algebra routines that are unstable in low-precision. We study the different failure modes that can occur when training GPs in half precision. To circumvent these failure modes, we propose a multi-faceted approach involving conjugate gradients with re-orthogonalization, mixed precision, and preconditioning. Our approach significantly improves the numerical stability and practical performance of conjugate gradients in low- precision over a wide range of settings, enabling GPs to train on 1.8 million data points in 10 hours on a single GPU, without any sparse approximations. 
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  4. Bayesian optimization (BayesOpt) is a gold standard for query-efficient continuous optimization. However, its adoption for drug design has been hindered by the discrete, high-dimensional nature of the decision variables. We develop a new approach (LaMBO) which jointly trains a denoising autoencoder with a discriminative multi-task Gaussian process head, allowing gradient-based optimization of multi-objective acquisition functions in the latent space of the autoencoder. These acquisition functions allow LaMBO to balance the explore-exploit tradeoff over multiple design rounds, and to balance objective tradeoffs by optimizing sequences at many different points on the Pareto frontier. We evaluate LaMBO on two small-molecule design tasks, and introduce new tasks optimizing \emph{in silico} and \emph{in vitro} properties of large-molecule fluorescent proteins. In our experiments LaMBO outperforms genetic optimizers and does not require a large pretraining corpus, demonstrating that BayesOpt is practical and effective for biological sequence design. 
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