Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)
Andrew Stirn, Tony Jebara, David Knowles
We construct a new distribution for the simplex using the Kumaraswamy distribution and an ordered stick-breaking process. We explore and develop the theoretical properties of this new distribution and prove that it exhibits symmetry (exchangeability) under the same conditions as the well-known Dirichlet. Like the Dirichlet, the new distribution is adept at capturing sparsity but, unlike the Dirichlet, has an exact and closed form reparameterization--making it well suited for deep variational Bayesian modeling. We demonstrate the distribution's utility in a variety of semi-supervised auto-encoding tasks. In all cases, the resulting models achieve competitive performance commensurate with their simplicity, use of explicit probability models, and abstinence from adversarial training.