Amortized Bayesian model comparison with evidential deep learning

by   Stefan T. Radev, et al.

Comparing competing mathematical models of complex natural processes is a shared goal among many branches of science. The Bayesian probabilistic framework offers a principled way to perform model comparison and extract useful metrics for guiding decisions. However, many interesting models are intractable with standard Bayesian methods, as they lack a closed-form likelihood function or the likelihood is computationally too expensive to evaluate. With this work, we propose a novel method for performing Bayesian model comparison using specialized deep learning architectures. Our method is purely simulation-based and circumvents the step of explicitly fitting all alternative models under consideration to each observed dataset. Moreover, it involves no hand-crafted summary statistics of the data and is designed to amortize the cost of simulation over multiple models and observable datasets. This makes the method applicable in scenarios where model fit needs to be assessed for a large number of datasets, so that per-dataset inference is practically infeasible. Finally, we propose a novel way to measure epistemic uncertainty in model comparison problems. We argue that this measure of epistemic uncertainty provides a unique proxy to quantify absolute evidence even in a framework which assumes that the true data-generating model is within a finite set of candidate models.


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