Mixture density networks

We explore mixture density networks (MDN) (Bishop, 1994). We demonstrate their implementation in Edward, leveraging Keras to construct neural networks.

If you are not familiar with MDNs have a look at the following blog post or at the original paper by Bishop (1994). The script is available here.


We use the same toy data from the David Ha’s blog post, where he explains MDNs. It is an inverse problem where for every input \(x_n\) there are multiple outputs \(y_n\).

def build_toy_dataset(N):
  y_data = np.random.uniform(-10.5, 10.5, (N, 1)).astype(np.float32)
  r_data = np.random.normal(size=(N, 1)).astype(np.float32)  # random noise
  x_data = np.sin(0.75 * y_data) * 7.0 + y_data * 0.5 + r_data * 1.0
  return train_test_split(x_data, y_data, random_state=42)

N = 40000  # number of data points
D = 1  # number of features

X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = build_toy_dataset(N)
print("Size of features in training data: {:s}".format(X_train.shape))
print("Size of output in training data: {:s}".format(y_train.shape))
print("Size of features in test data: {:s}".format(X_test.shape))
print("Size of output in test data: {:s}".format(y_test.shape))

sns.regplot(X_train, y_train, fit_reg=False)
## Size of features in training data: (4000, 1)
## Size of output in training data: (4000, 1)
## Size of features in test data: (36000, 1)
## Size of output in test data: (36000, 1)


We define TensorFlow placeholders will be used to manually feed batches of data during inference. This is one of many ways to train models with data in Edward.

X = tf.placeholder(tf.float32, [None, D])
y = tf.placeholder(tf.float32, [None, D])
data = {'X': X, 'y': y}


Note: Model wrappers are deprecated since Edward v1.1.5. Reimplementing this under Edward’s native language is currently in progress.

We define a class that can be used to construct MDNs. Here we use a mixture of normal distributions parameterized by a feedforward network. In other words, the membership probabilities and per-component mean and standard deviation are given by the output of a feedforward network.

class MixtureDensityNetwork:
  Mixture density network for outputs y on inputs x.

  p((x,y), (z,theta))
  = sum_{k=1}^K pi_k(x; theta) Normal(y; mu_k(x; theta), sigma_k(x; theta))

  where pi, mu, sigma are the output of a neural network taking x
  as input and with parameters theta. There are no latent variables
  z, which are hidden variables we aim to be Bayesian about.
  def __init__(self, K):
    self.K = K

  def neural_network(self, X):
    """pi, mu, sigma = NN(x; theta)"""
    # fully-connected layer with 25 hidden units
    hidden1 = Dense(25, activation=K.relu)(X)
    hidden2 = Dense(25, activation=K.relu)(hidden1)
    self.mus = Dense(self.K)(hidden2)
    self.sigmas = Dense(self.K, activation=K.exp)(hidden2)
    self.pi = Dense(self.K, activation=K.softmax)(hidden2)

  def log_prob(self, xs, zs):
    """Return scalar, the log joint density log p(xs, zs)."""
    # Note there are no parameters we're being Bayesian about. The
    # parameters are baked into how we specify the neural networks.
    X, y = xs['X'], xs['y']
    result = self.pi * norm.prob(y, self.mus, self.sigmas)
    result = tf.log(tf.reduce_sum(result, 1))
    return tf.reduce_sum(result)

We instantiate the mixture density network with 20 mixtures.

model = MixtureDensityNetwork(20)


We use MAP estimation, passing in the model and data set. See this extended tutorial about MAP estimation in Edward.

inference = ed.MAP([], data, model)

Here, we will manually control the inference and how data is passed into it at each step. First, start a TensorFlow session and pass it into Keras so that it shares the same TensorFlow session as Edward. Then initialize the algorithm and the TensorFlow variables.

sess = ed.get_session()

init = tf.initialize_all_variables()

Now we train the MDN by calling inference.update(), passing in the data. The quantity inference.loss is the loss function (negative log-likelihood) at that step of inference. We also report the loss function on test data by calling inference.loss and where we feed test data to the TensorFlow placeholders instead of training data. We keep track of the losses under train_loss and test_loss.

n_epoch = 1000
train_loss = np.zeros(n_epoch)
test_loss = np.zeros(n_epoch)
for i in range(n_epoch):
    info_dict = inference.update(feed_dict={X: X_train, y: y_train})
    train_loss[i] = info_dict['loss']
    test_loss[i] = sess.run(inference.loss, feed_dict={X: X_test, y: y_test})

After training for a number of iterations, we can get out the predictions we are interested in from the model. In this case, it is

  • model.pi, the mixture components;
  • model.mus, the means;
  • model.sigmas, the standard deviations.

To do this, we call

pred_weights, pred_means, pred_std = \
    sess.run([model.pi, model.mus, model.sigmas], feed_dict={X: X_test})

Let’s plot the log-likelihood of the training and test data as functions of the training epoch. The quantity inference.loss is the total log-likelihood, not the loss per data point. In the plotting routine we get the latter by dividing by the size of the train and test data respectively.

fig, axes = plt.subplots(nrows=1, ncols=1, figsize=(16, 3.5))
plt.plot(np.arange(n_epoch), -test_loss / len(X_test), label='Test')
plt.plot(np.arange(n_epoch), -train_loss / len(X_train), label='Train')
plt.xlabel('Epoch', fontsize=15)
plt.ylabel('Log-likelihood', fontsize=15)


We see that it converges after 400 iterations.


Let’s look at how a few individual examples perform. Note that as this is an inverse problem we can’t get the answer correct, but we can hope that the truth lies in area where the model has high probability. This code relies on helper functions available in the full script above.

In this plot the truth is the vertical grey line while the blue line is the prediction of the mixture density network. As you can see, we didn’t do too bad.

obj = [0, 4, 6]
fig, axes = plt.subplots(nrows=3, ncols=1, figsize=(16, 6))

plot_normal_mix(pred_weights[obj][0], pred_means[obj][0], pred_std[obj][0], axes[0], comp=False)
axes[0].axvline(x=y_test[obj][0], color='black', alpha=0.5)

plot_normal_mix(pred_weights[obj][2], pred_means[obj][2], pred_std[obj][2], axes[1], comp=False)
axes[1].axvline(x=y_test[obj][2], color='black', alpha=0.5)

plot_normal_mix(pred_weights[obj][1], pred_means[obj][1], pred_std[obj][1], axes[2], comp=False)
axes[2].axvline(x=y_test[obj][1], color='black', alpha=0.5)


We can check the ensemble by drawing samples of the prediction and plotting the density of those. The MDN has learned what we’d like it to learn.

a = sample_from_mixture(X_test, pred_weights, pred_means, pred_std, amount=len(X_test))
sns.jointplot(a[:,0], a[:,1], kind="hex", color="#4CB391", ylim=(-10,10), xlim=(-14,14))



We are grateful to Christopher Bonnett for writing this tutorial, and more generally for pushing forward momentum to have Edward tutorials be accessible and easy-to-learn.


Bishop, C. M. (1994). Mixture density networks.