**Variational Neural Network**

The choice of activation function can significantly influence the performance of neural networks. The lack of guiding principles for the selection of activation function is lamentable. We try to address this issue by introducing our variational neural networks, where the activation function is represented as a linear combination of possible candidate functions, and an optimal activation is obtained via minimization of a loss function using gradient descent method. The gradient formulae for the loss function with respect to these expansion coefficients are central for the implementation of gradient descent algorithm, and here we derive these gradient formulae. … **NSGA-Net**

This paper introduces NSGA-Net, an evolutionary approach for neural architecture search (NAS). NSGA-Net is designed with three goals in mind: (1) a NAS procedure for multiple, possibly conflicting, objectives, (2) efficient exploration and exploitation of the space of potential neural network architectures, and (3) output of a diverse set of network architectures spanning a trade-off frontier of the objectives in a single run. NSGA-Net is a population-based search algorithm that explores a space of potential neural network architectures in three steps, namely, a population initialization step that is based on prior-knowledge from hand-crafted architectures, an exploration step comprising crossover and mutation of architectures and finally an exploitation step that applies the entire history of evaluated neural architectures in the form of a Bayesian Network prior. Experimental results suggest that combining the objectives of minimizing both an error metric and computational complexity, as measured by FLOPS, allows NSGA-Net to find competitive neural architectures near the Pareto front of both objectives on two different tasks, object classification and object alignment. NSGA-Net obtains networks that achieve 3.72% (at 4.5 million FLOP) error on CIFAR-10 classification and 8.64% (at 26.6 million FLOP) error on the CMU-Car alignment task. Code available at: https://…/nsga-net … **Variational Noise-Contrastive Estimation**

Unnormalised latent variable models are a broad and flexible class of statistical models. However, learning their parameters from data is intractable, and few estimation techniques are currently available for such models. To increase the number of techniques in our arsenal, we propose variational noise-contrastive estimation (VNCE), building on NCE which is a method that only applies to unnormalised models. The core idea is to use a variational lower bound to the NCE objective function, which can be optimised in the same fashion as the evidence lower bound (ELBO) in standard variational inference (VI). We prove that VNCE can be used for both parameter estimation of unnormalised models and posterior inference of latent variables. The developed theory shows that VNCE has the same level of generality as standard VI, meaning that advances made there can be directly imported to the unnormalised setting. We validate VNCE on toy models and apply it to a realistic problem of estimating an undirected graphical model from incomplete data. …

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