Reliable Simulation-Based Inference with Balanced Neural Ratio Estimation

by Gilles Louppe


Modern approaches for simulation-based inference rely upon deep learning surrogates to enable approximate inference with computer simulators. In practice, the estimated posteriors' computational faithfulness is, however, rarely guaranteed. For example, Hermans et al. (2021) show that current simulation-based inference algorithms can produce posteriors that are overconfident, hence risking false inferences. In this work, we introduce Balanced Neural Ratio Estimation (BNRE), a variation of the NRE algorithm designed to produce posterior approximations that tend to be more conservative, hence improving their reliability, while sharing the same Bayes optimal solution. We achieve this by enforcing a balancing condition that increases the quantified uncertainty in small simulation budget regimes while still converging to the exact posterior as the budget increases. We provide theoretical arguments showing that BNRE tends to produce posterior surrogates that are more conservative than NRE's. We evaluate BNRE on a wide variety of tasks and show that it produces conservative posterior surrogates on all tested benchmarks and simulation budgets. Finally, we emphasize that BNRE is straightforward to implement over NRE and does not introduce any computational overhead.


Gilles Louppe is Professor of AI and Deep Learning at Liege University. He has developed a new generation of simulation-based inference, with applications to Particle Physics, Astrophysics and Gravitational Waves. Some of his recent publications have been with experimental Particle Physicists. His lectures on  “Machine Learning” on the web are very popular.



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O. Behnke, L. Lyons, L. Moneta, N. Wardle

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