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Conditional Neural Processes

Marta Garnelo, Dan Rosenbaum, Chris J. Maddison, Tiago Ramalho, David Saxton, Murray Shanahan, Yee Whye Teh, Danilo J. Rezende, S. M. Ali Eslami

Deep neural networks excel at function approximation, yet they are typically trained from scratch for each new function. On the other hand, Bayesian methods, such as Gaussian Processes (GPs), exploit prior knowledge to quickly infer the shape of a new function at test time. Yet GPs are computationally expensive, and it can be hard to design appropriate priors. In this paper we propose a family of neural models, Conditional Neural Processes (CNPs), that combine the benefits of both. CNPs are inspired by the flexibility of stochastic processes such as GPs, but are structured as neural networks and trained via gradient descent. CNPs make accurate predictions after observing only a handful of training data points, yet scale to complex functions and large datasets. We demonstrate the performance and versatility of the approach on a range of canonical machine learning tasks, including regression, classification and image completion.

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