Sparse Probabilistic Circuits via Pruning and Growing

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Meihua Dang, Anji Liu, Guy Van den Broeck


Probabilistic circuits (PCs) are a tractable representation of probability distributions allowing for exact and efficient computation of likelihoods and marginals. There has been significant recent progress on improving the scale and expressiveness of PCs. However, PC training performance plateaus as model size increases. We discover that most capacity in existing large PC structures is wasted: fully-connected parameter layers are only sparsely used. We propose two operations: pruning and growing, that exploit the sparsity of PC structures. Specifically, the pruning operation removes unimportant sub-networks of the PC for model compression and comes with theoretical guarantees. The growing operation increases model capacity by increasing the dimensions of latent states. By alternatingly applying pruning and growing, we increase the capacity that is meaningfully used, allowing us to significantly scale up PC learning. Empirically, our learner achieves state-of-the-art likelihoods on MNIST-family image datasets and an Penn Tree Bank language data compared to other PC learners and less tractable deep generative models such as flow-based models and variational autoencoders (VAEs).