Streaming, Distributed Variational Inference for Bayesian Nonparametrics

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28 (NIPS 2015)

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Trevor Campbell, Julian Straub, John W. Fisher III, Jonathan P. How


This paper presents a methodology for creating streaming, distributed inference algorithms for Bayesian nonparametric (BNP) models. In the proposed framework, processing nodes receive a sequence of data minibatches, compute a variational posterior for each, and make asynchronous streaming updates to a central model. In contrast to previous algorithms, the proposed framework is truly streaming, distributed, asynchronous, learning-rate-free, and truncation-free. The key challenge in developing the framework, arising from fact that BNP models do not impose an inherent ordering on their components, is finding the correspondence between minibatch and central BNP posterior components before performing each update. To address this, the paper develops a combinatorial optimization problem over component correspondences, and provides an efficient solution technique. The paper concludes with an application of the methodology to the DP mixture model, with experimental results demonstrating its practical scalability and performance.