C. M. Bishop and J. M. Winn
In recent years variational methods have become a popular tool for approximate inference and learning in a wide variety of probabilistic models. For each new application, however, it is currently necessary first to derive the variational update equations, and then to implement them in application-specific code. Each of these steps is both time consuming and error prone. In this paper we describe a general purpose inference engine called VIBES (`Variational Inference for Bayesian Networks') which allows a wide variety of probabilistic models to be implemented and solved variationally without recourse to coding. New models are specified either through a simple script or via a graphical interface analogous to a drawing package. VIBES then automatically generates and solves the variational equations. We illustrate the power and flexibility of VIBES using examples from Bayesian mixture modelling.
In Proceedings Sixth European Conference on Computer Vision