TAP free energy, spin glasses, and variational inference.

Seminar | September 19 | 3-4 p.m. | 1011 Evans Hall

 Song Mei, Stanford University

 Department of Statistics

We consider the Sherrington-Kirkpatrick model of spin glasses with ferromagnetically biased couplings. For a specific choice of the couplings mean, the resulting Gibbs measure is equivalent to the Bayesian posterior for a high-dimensional estimation problem known as ‘Z2 synchronization’. Statistical physics suggests to compute the expectation with respect to this Gibbs measure (the posterior mean in the synchronization problem), by minimizing the so-called Thouless-Anderson-Palmer (TAP) free energy, instead of the mean field (MF) free energy. We prove that this identification is correct, provided the ferromagnetic bias is larger than a constant (i.e. the noise level is small enough in synchronization). Namely, we prove that the scaled l2 distance between any low energy local minimizers of the TAP free energy and the mean of the Gibbs measure vanishes in the large size limit. Our proof technique is based on upper bounding the expected number of critical points of the TAP free energy using the Kac-Rice formula.