[P] Gen: a general-purpose probabilistic programming system with programmable inference
Abstract Although probabilistic programming is widely used for some restricted classes of statistical models, existing systems lack the flexibility and efficiency needed for practical use with more challenging models arising in fields like computer vision and robotics. This paper introduces Gen, a general-purpose probabilistic programming system that achieves modeling flexibility and inference efficiency via several novel language constructs: (i) the generative function interface for encapsulating probabilistic models; (ii) interoperable modeling languages that strike different flexibility/efficiency trade-offs; (iii) combinators that exploit common patterns of conditional independence; and (iv) an inference library that empowers users to implement efficient inference algorithms at a high level of abstraction. We show that Gen outperforms state-of-the-art probabilistic programming systems, sometimes by multiple orders of magnitude, on diverse problems including object tracking, estimating 3D body pose from a depth image, and inferring the structure of a time series.
Project Page https://probcomp.github.io/Gen/
Article on MIT news about this work. The article is a bit too hyped, but just including here for completeness, as the work looks solid on its own without this article.