Structured Stochastic Variational Inference

Matthew D. Hoffman, David M. Blei

Stochastic variational inference makes it possible to approximate posterior distributions induced by large datasets quickly using stochastic optimization. The algorithm relies on the use of fully factorized variational distributions. However, this "mean-field" independence approximation limits the fidelity of the posterior approximation, and introduces local optima. We show how to relax the mean-field approximation to allow arbitrary dependencies between global parameters and local hidden variables, producing better parameter estimates by reducing bias, sensitivity to local optima, and sensitivity to hyperparameters.

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