Riemannian Laplace approximations for Bayesian neural networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Federico Bergamin, Pablo Moreno-Muñoz, Søren Hauberg, Georgios Arvanitidis


Bayesian neural networks often approximate the weight-posterior with a Gaussian distribution. However, practical posteriors are often, even locally, highly non-Gaussian, and empirical performance deteriorates. We propose a simple parametric approximate posterior that adapts to the shape of the true posterior through a Riemannian metric that is determined by the log-posterior gradient. We develop a Riemannian Laplace approximation where samples naturally fall into weight-regions with low negative log-posterior. We show that these samples can be drawn by solving a system of ordinary differential equations, which can be done efficiently by leveraging the structure of the Riemannian metric and automatic differentiation. Empirically, we demonstrate that our approach consistently improves over the conventional Laplace approximation across tasks. We further show that, unlike the conventional Laplace approximation, our method is not overly sensitive to the choice of prior, which alleviates a practical pitfall of current approaches.