Properties and Bayesian fitting of restricted Boltzmann machines

Andee Kaplan, Iowa State University
Daniel J. Nordman, Iowa State University
Stephen B. Vardeman, Iowa State University

This is a manuscript of an article published as Kaplan, Andee, Daniel Nordman, and Stephen Vardeman. "Properties and Bayesian fitting of restricted Boltzmann machines." arXiv preprint arXiv:1612.01158v2 (2017).


A restricted Boltzmann machine (RBM) is an undirected graphical model constructed for discrete or continuous random variables, with two layers, one hidden and one visible, and no conditional dependency within a layer. In recent years, RBMs have risen to prominence due to their connection to deep learning. By treating a hidden layer of one RBM as the visible layer in a second RBM, a deep architecture can be created. RBMs are thought to thereby have the ability to encode very complex and rich structures in data, making them attractive for supervised learning. However, the generative behavior of RBMs is largely unexplored. In this paper, we discuss the relationship between RBM parameter specification in the binary case and model properties such as degeneracy, instability and uninterpretability. We also describe the difficulties that arise in likelihood-based and Bayes fitting of such (highly flexible) models, especially as Gibbs sampling (quasi-Bayes) methods are often advocated for the RBM model structure.