Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27 (NIPS 2014)

*Deepak Venugopal, Vibhav G. Gogate*

Markov Logic Networks (MLNs) are weighted first-order logic templates for generating large (ground) Markov networks. Lifted inference algorithms for them bring the power of logical inference to probabilistic inference. These algorithms operate as much as possible at the compact first-order level, grounding or propositionalizing the MLN only as necessary. As a result, lifted inference algorithms can be much more scalable than propositional algorithms that operate directly on the much larger ground network. Unfortunately, existing lifted inference algorithms suffer from two interrelated problems, which severely affects their scalability in practice. First, for most real-world MLNs having complex structure, they are unable to exploit symmetries and end up grounding most atoms (the grounding problem). Second, they suffer from the evidence problem, which arises because evidence breaks symmetries, severely diminishing the power of lifted inference. In this paper, we address both problems by presenting a scalable, lifted importance sampling-based approach that never grounds the full MLN. Specifically, we show how to scale up the two main steps in importance sampling: sampling from the proposal distribution and weight computation. Scalable sampling is achieved by using an informed, easy-to-sample proposal distribution derived from a compressed MLN-representation. Fast weight computation is achieved by only visiting a small subset of the sampled groundings of each formula instead of all of its possible groundings. We show that our new algorithm yields an asymptotically unbiased estimate. Our experiments on several MLNs clearly demonstrate the promise of our approach.

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