Beyond Backpropagation: Uncertainty Propagation


at ICLR 2016, San Jaun, Puerto Rico on May 3, 2016 [pdf]
Neil D. Lawrence, University of Sheffield



Deep learning is founded on composable functions that are structured to capture regularities in data and can have their parameters optimized by backpropagation (differentiation via the chain rule). Their recent success is founded on the increased availability of data and computational power. However, they are not very data efficient. In low data regimes parameters are not well determined and severe overfitting can occur. The solution is to explicitly handle the indeterminacy by converting it to parameter uncertainty and propagating it through the model. Uncertainty propagation is more involved than backpropagation because it involves convolving the composite functions with probability distributions and integration is more challenging than differentiation. We will present one approach to fitting such models using Gaussian processes. The resulting models perform very well in both supervised and unsupervised learning on small data sets. The remaining challenge is to scale the algorithms to much larger data.