Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) & Master of Science (M.Sc.):

Available Thesis Topics

Both Bachelor and Master theses are extensive pieces of work that take full-time committment over several months. They are thus also deeply personal decisions by each student. This page lists a few topics we are currently seeking to address in the research group. If you find one of them appealing, please contact the person listed here for each project. If you have an idea of your own — one that you are passionate about, and which fits into the remit of the Chair for the Methods of Machine Learning — please feel invited to pitch your idea. To do so, first contact Philipp Hennig to make an appointment for a first meeting.

Laplace Approximations for Exponential Families (M.Sc. Thesis)

Supervisor: Philipp Hennig & N.N.

Laplace approximations are a basic (and historical) approximate inference method, and among the only currently available tools for assigning uncertainty to deep learning models. They are usually employed to approximate a non-Gaussian distribution with a Gaussian one. The goal of this Master project is to generalize this notion (also beyond Laplace's original intent) to a broader family of probability distributions. This project is primarily of a theoretical nature, but also has a connection to applications. Done well, it can lead to a publication in a high-impact venue. Prior experience with approximate inference (in particular, participation in the Lecture Course on Probabilistic Machine Learning) is a pre-requisite. 

Flexible and scalable variational Bayesian neural networks (M.Sc. Thesis)

Spervisor: Agustinus Kristiadi 

Variational inference is one of the most well-known methods for inferring the posterior distribution of a neural network. Due to computational and mathematical convenience, strong assumption of the variational posterior is usually employed, e.g. diagonal Gaussian [1]. This makes the variational posterior fails to approximate the true posterior well and subsequently makes non-desirable behavior emerges [2]. The goal of this project is to construct a more flexible but still scalable variational posterior which can then approximating the true posterior better. This topic is a mix of theory and application. Moreover, it is open-ended and the student will be guided to grow his/her ideas.

[1] Blundell, C., Cornebise, J., Kavukcuoglu, K. & Wierstra, D.. (2015). Weight Uncertainty in Neural Network. Proceedings of the 32nd International Conference on Machine Learning, in PMLR 37:1613-1622.
[2] Foong, Andrew YK, et al. "'In-Between'Uncertainty in Bayesian Neural Networks." arXiv preprint arXiv:1906.11537 (2019).

Scalable Laplace approximation for neural networks (M.Sc. Thesis)

Supervisor: Agustinus Kristiadi

Laplace approximation works by fitting a Gaussian at one of the modes of the true posterior. Due to the space complexity of this Gaussian's covariance matrix, which scales like O(n^2) where n is the number of network's parameters, exact Laplace approximation for large networks is intractable. In this project, we are interested in making Laplace approximation more scalable, while also be more fine-grained (in term of its covariance matrix) than the recently proposed methods [1]. This topic is a mix between theory and application, and it is an intersection between Bayesian inference, deep learning, and second-order optimization, with a particular emphasis on linear algebra. This topic is open-ended and the student will be guided to grow his/her own ideas.

[1] Ritter, Hippolyt, Aleksandar Botev, and David Barber. "A scalable laplace approximation for neural networks." (2018).