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A Note on the Accuracy of Variational Bayes in State Space Models: Inference and Prediction

by   David T. Frazier, et al.
Monash University

Using theoretical and numerical results, we document the accuracy of commonly applied variational Bayes methods across a range of state space models. The results demonstrate that, in terms of accuracy on fixed parameters, there is a clear hierarchy in terms of the methods, with approaches that do not approximate the states yielding superior accuracy over methods that do. We also document numerically that the inferential discrepancies between the various methods often yield only small discrepancies in predictive accuracy over small out-of-sample evaluation periods. Nevertheless, in certain settings, these predictive discrepancies can become marked over longer out-of-sample periods. This finding indicates that the invariance of predictive results to inferential inaccuracy, which has been an oft-touted point made by practitioners seeking to justify the use of variational inference, is not ubiquitous and must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.


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