Exact marginal prior distributions of finite Bayesian neural networksDownload PDF

21 May 2021, 20:42 (edited 18 Oct 2021)NeurIPS 2021 SpotlightReaders: Everyone
  • Keywords: Bayesian neural networks, inductive bias, infinite-width limits
  • TL;DR: We compute the exact marginal function-space priors of a class of finite Bayesian neural networks.
  • Abstract: Bayesian neural networks are theoretically well-understood only in the infinite-width limit, where Gaussian priors over network weights yield Gaussian priors over network outputs. Recent work has suggested that finite Bayesian networks may outperform their infinite counterparts, but their non-Gaussian output priors have been characterized only though perturbative approaches. Here, we derive exact solutions for the function space priors for individual input examples of a class of finite fully-connected feedforward Bayesian neural networks. For deep linear networks, the prior has a simple expression in terms of the Meijer $G$-function. The prior of a finite ReLU network is a mixture of the priors of linear networks of smaller widths, corresponding to different numbers of active units in each layer. Our results unify previous descriptions of finite network priors in terms of their tail decay and large-width behavior.
  • Supplementary Material: pdf
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  • Code: https://github.com/Pehlevan-Group/ExactBayesianNetworkPriors
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