Stein Variational Gradient Descent as Gradient Flow

04/25/2017 ∙ by Qiang Liu, et al. ∙ 0

Stein variational gradient descent (SVGD) is a deterministic sampling algorithm that iteratively transports a set of particles to approximate given distributions, based on an efficient gradient-based update that guarantees to optimally decrease the KL divergence within a function space. This paper develops the first theoretical analysis on SVGD, discussing its weak convergence properties and showing that its asymptotic behavior is captured by a gradient flow of the KL divergence functional under a new metric structure induced by Stein operator. We also provide a number of results on Stein operator and Stein's identity using the notion of weak derivative, including a new proof of the distinguishability of Stein discrepancy under weak conditions.

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