Perturbative corrections for approximate inference in gaussian latent variable models

Manfred Opper, Ulrich Paquet, Ole Winther

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Expectation Propagation (EP) provides a framework for approximate inference. When the model under consideration is over a latent Gaussian field, with the approximation being Gaussian, we show how these approximations can systematically be corrected. A perturbative expansion is made of the exact but intractable correction, and can be applied to the model's partition function and other moments of interest. The correction is expressed over the higher-order cumulants which are neglected by EP's local matching of moments. Through the expansion, we see that EP is correct to first order. By considering higher orders, corrections of increasing polynomial complexity can be applied to the approximation. The second order provides a correction in quadratic time, which we apply to an array of Gaussian process and Ising models. The corrections generalize to arbitrarily complex approximating families, which we illustrate on tree-structured Ising model approximations. Furthermore, they provide a polynomial-time assessment of the approximation error. We also provide both theoretical and practical insights on the exactness of the EP solution. © 2013 Manfred Opper, Ulrich Paquet and Ole Winther.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Machine Learning Research
Pages (from-to)2857-2898
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Expansion
  • Gaussian distribution
  • Gaussian noise (electronic)
  • Ising model
  • Polynomial approximation

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