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Posterior Network: Uncertainty Estimation without OOD Samples via Density-Based Pseudo-Counts

by Bertrand Charpentier, Daniel Zügner and Stephan Günnemann
Published at the International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR), 2022 (Spolight talk)


Accurate estimation of aleatoric and epistemic uncertainty is crucial to build safe and reliable systems. Traditional approaches, such as dropout and ensemble methods, estimate uncertainty by sampling probability predictions from different submodels, which leads to slow uncertainty estimation at inference time. Recent works address this drawback by directly predicting parameters of prior distributions over the probability predictions with a neural network. While this approach has demonstrated accurate uncertainty estimation, it requires defining arbitrary target parameters for in-distribution data and makes the unrealistic assumption that out-of-distribution (OOD) data is known at training time. In this work we propose the Posterior Network (PostNet), which uses Normalizing Flows to predict an individual closed-form posterior distribution over predicted probabilites for any input sample. The posterior distributions learned by PostNet accurately reflect uncertainty for in- and out-of-distribution data – without requiring access to OOD data at training time. PostNet achieves state-of-the art results in OOD detection and in uncertainty calibration under dataset shifts.


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