A variational approximate posterior for the deep Wishart process

Sebastian W. Ober, Laurence Aitchison

Recent work introduced deep kernel processes as an entirely kernel-based alternative to NNs (Aitchison et al. 2020). Deep kernel processes flexibly learn good top-layer representations by alternately sampling the kernel from a distribution over positive semi-definite matrices and performing nonlinear transformations. A particular deep kernel process, the deep Wishart process (DWP), is of particular interest because its prior is equivalent to deep Gaussian process (DGP) priors. However, inference in DWPs has not yet been possible due to the lack of sufficiently flexible distributions over positive semi-definite matrices. Here, we give a novel approach to obtaining flexible distributions over positive semi-definite matrices by generalising the Bartlett decomposition of the Wishart probability density. We use this new distribution to develop an approximate posterior for the DWP that includes dependency across layers. We develop a doubly-stochastic inducing-point inference scheme for the DWP and show experimentally that inference in the DWP gives improved performance over doing inference in a DGP with the equivalent prior.

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