Activation-level uncertainty in deep neural networks

Pablo Morales-Alvarez · Daniel Hernández-Lobato · Rafael Molina · José Miguel Hernández Lobato

Keywords: [ bayesian neural networks ] [ gaussian processes ] [ uncertainty estimation ] [ Deep Gaussian Processes ]


Current approaches for uncertainty estimation in deep learning often produce too confident results. Bayesian Neural Networks (BNNs) model uncertainty in the space of weights, which is usually high-dimensional and limits the quality of variational approximations. The more recent functional BNNs (fBNNs) address this only partially because, although the prior is specified in the space of functions, the posterior approximation is still defined in terms of stochastic weights. In this work we propose to move uncertainty from the weights (which are deterministic) to the activation function. Specifically, the activations are modelled with simple 1D Gaussian Processes (GP), for which a triangular kernel inspired by the ReLu non-linearity is explored. Our experiments show that activation-level stochasticity provides more reliable uncertainty estimates than BNN and fBNN, whereas it performs competitively in standard prediction tasks. We also study the connection with deep GPs, both theoretically and empirically. More precisely, we show that activation-level uncertainty requires fewer inducing points and is better suited for deep architectures.

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