Published on Tue Dec 10 2019

Frequentist Consistency of Generalized Variational Inference

Jeremias Knoblauch

This paper investigates Frequentist consistency properties of the posterior distribution of Generalized Variational Inference (GVI) A number of generic and novel strategies are given for proving consistency, relying on the theory of $\Gamma$-convergence.

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Abstract

This paper investigates Frequentist consistency properties of the posterior distributions constructed via Generalized Variational Inference (GVI). A number of generic and novel strategies are given for proving consistency, relying on the theory of $\Gamma$-convergence. Specifically, this paper shows that under minimal regularity conditions, the sequence of GVI posteriors is consistent and collapses to a point mass at the population-optimal parameter value as the number of observations goes to infinity. The results extend to the latent variable case without additional assumptions and hold under misspecification. Lastly, the paper explains how to apply the results to a selection of GVI posteriors with especially popular variational families. For example, consistency is established for GVI methods using the mean field normal variational family, normal mixtures, Gaussian process variational families as well as neural networks indexing a normal (mixture) distribution.