NIPS*2014 Workshop/Call for Contributions

From Probabilistic Programming

Jump to: navigation, search
CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS --- 3rd NIPS Workshop on Probabilistic Programming


Vikash Mansinghka, Dan Roy, Stuart Russell, Tom Dietterich, Josh Tenenbaum


----- OCT 24 : Accepting submissions (for early decisions see ^^ below)
----- NOV 07 : Extended abstracts due (and NIPS early registration deadline!)
----- NOV 10 : Notification of acceptance
----- DEC 13 : Workshop

^^ On request, decisions for submissions received between October 24 and November 3 will be made within 72 hours, to facilitate travel planning and early registration.



Probabilistic models and approximate inference algorithms have become widely-used tools, central to fields ranging from cosmology to robotics to genetics. However, even simple variations on models and algorithms from the standard machine learning and statistics toolkits can be difficult and time-consuming to design, specify, analyze, implement, optimize and debug. Due to these challenges, integrated, fully probabilistic approaches to fundamental AI problems can be impractical. Probabilistic programming aims to address these challenges by developing formal languages and software systems that integrate key ideas from probabilistic modeling and inference with programming languages and Turing-universal computation.

The field of probabilistic programming has seen rapid growth and progress over the last two years. Several languages and open-source implementations are now mature enough to support real-world applications, especially in data analysis. Many new probabilistic programming languages have been developed; most of these are domain-specific, but some aim to be general-purpose. Formal connections to computable analysis, measure theory, and computational complexity are emerging, along with new AI architectures that make use of the representational flexibility that probabilistic programs and probabilistic programming systems provide. New problems have also emerged. There is a widespread need for software tools that implement mathematically rigorous approaches to profiling, testing, verifying and debugging probabilistic programs, and for high-quality libraries of models and inference techniques.

The 3rd NIPS Workshop on Probabilistic Programming will survey recent progress, including results from the ongoing DARPA PPAML program. A key theme will be articulating formal connections between probabilistic programming and other fields central to the NIPS community.


We are seeking three types of extended abstract submissions:

1. RESEARCH ABSTRACTS --- Original research in probabilistic programming methodology and/or its applications. All aspects of probabilistic programming are appropriate, including theory, language design, inference, systems considerations, and applications.

2. LANGUAGE/SYSTEM DESCRIPTIONS --- Descriptions of languages and systems under active research and development. Abstracts should explain the intended coverage in terms of the models, datasets, queries, inference strategies and representative applications that are supported by the language. Distinctive features of the language design and system architecture are also of interest. All abstracts must include code and example outputs for at least two probabilistic programs.

3. CHALLENGE PROBLEMS --- Suggestions for challenge problems that the probabilistic programming community should consider. Application suggestions should introduce the problem, link to publicly available domain knowledge and/or data, suggest relevant modeling idioms and inference strategies, describe the current state-of-the-art, and characterize the potential impact if the problem is solved (ideally given multiple quantitatively specified levels of computational and inferential performance). Descriptions of fundamental research challenges that have arisen or are likely to arise are also of interest, especially if the challenge and/or the likely solutions involve connections to other fields.

Submissions should sent by email to

In order to aid processing, the email subject line should contain the word "submission", as well as the following keywords:

-- "research", "description", or "challenge" based on the type of submission;
-- "talk", if and only if the authors would like the abstract 
    considered for a contributed talk in addition to a poster; and
-- “early decision”, if and only if the authors need to hear back 
    within 72 hours concerning acceptance for registration/planning purposes.

The body of the email should include

-- a title,
-- a list of authors and emails, and
-- a PDF attachment in the NIPS LaTeX style.

Submissions should be ~3 pages + references, and they will be reviewed for correctness, clarity, relevance, and, in the case of research submissions, novelty. An optional questionnaire URL will be released in November for Language/System and Challenge Problem submissions. Accepted contributions will be made available shortly before the workshop, and will be linked online with the authors’ permission.
Personal tools