The variational Laplace approach to approximate Bayesian inference

03/02/2017 ∙ by Jean Daunizeau, et al. ∙ 0

Variational approaches to approximate Bayesian inference provide very efficient means of performing parameter estimation and model selection. Among these, so-called variational-Laplace or VL schemes rely on Gaussian approximations to posterior densities on model parameters. In this note, we review the main variants of VL approaches, that follow from considering nonlinear models of continuous and/or categorical data. En passant, we also derive a few novel theoretical results that complete the portfolio of existing analyses of variational Bayesian approaches, including investigations of their asymptotic convergence. We also suggest practical ways of extending existing VL approaches to hierarchical generative models that include (e.g., precision) hyperparameters.

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