Beyond Trees: Analysis and Convergence of Belief Propagation in Graphs with Multiple Cycles
Belief propagation, an algorithm for solving problems represented by graphical models, has long been known to converge to the optimal solution when the graph is a tree. When the graph representing the problem includes a single cycle, the algorithm either converges to the optimal solution or performs periodic oscillations. While the conditions that trigger these two behaviors have been established, the question regarding the convergence and divergence of the algorithm on graphs that include more than one cycle is still open.
Focusing on Max-sum, the version of belief propagation for solving distributed constraint optimization problems (DCOPs), we extend the theory on the behavior of belief propagation in general – and Max-sum specifically – when solving problems represented by graphs with multiple cycles. This includes: 1) Generalizing the results obtained for graphs with a single cycle to graphs with multiple cycles, by using backtrack cost trees (BCT). 2) Proving that when the algorithm is applied to adjacent symmetric cycles, the use of a large enough damping factor guarantees convergence to the optimal solution.