NIPS: Oral Session 9 – Adrian Weller

Date

December 11, 2014

Speaker

Adrian Weller

Affiliation

University of Cambridge

Overview

It was recently proved using graph covers (Ruozzi, 2012) that the Bethe partition function is upper bounded by the true partition function for a binary pairwise model that is attractive. Here we provide a new, arguably simpler proof from first principles. We make use of the idea of clamping a variable to a particular value. For an attractive model, we show that summing over the Bethe partition functions for each sub-model obtained after clamping any variable can only raise (and hence improve) the approximation. In fact, we derive a stronger result that may have other useful implications. Repeatedly clamping until we obtain a model with no cycles, where the Bethe approximation is exact, yields the result. We also provide a related lower bound on a broad class of approximate partition functions of general pairwise multi-label models that depends only on the topology. We demonstrate that clamping a few wisely chosen variables can be of practical value by dramatically reducing approximation error.