Below is some steps for differentiating a function wrt a set of parameters $\phi$ using the "reparameterisation trick" (Kingma & Welling 2013).

However after applying the derivative as follows I cannot follow how the underlined portion of the derivative came about. Could someone simplify or explain the origin of this term?


  • $\begingroup$ Do you understand where the second term on that line comes from? $\endgroup$ – jbowman Mar 11 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. That is chain rule. To be honest I only would have ended up with the second term and not included the first term $\endgroup$ – pche8701 Mar 11 at 22:21

While you are right on the second term and the use of the chain rule, your distribution $q$ also directly depends on $\phi$ as made explicit by the subscript $q_\mathbf{\phi}$. That's why I prefer the notation $q(\cdot \, ;\phi)$, everything is more clear.

Denoting from the beginning: $\theta = f(\epsilon \, ; \phi)$ and $g = \log q(\theta \, ; \phi)$, we have using Leibniz's notation:

\begin{align*} \frac{\partial g(\phi, \theta)}{\partial \phi} = \left. \frac{\partial g(\phi, \theta)}{\partial \phi} \right|_{\theta = f(\epsilon \, ; \phi)} + \frac{\partial g(\phi, \theta)}{\partial \theta} \frac{\partial f(\epsilon \, ; \phi)}{\partial \phi} \; \textrm{,} \end{align*}

where the derivative of the first term on the right-hand side is computed with $\theta$ fixed


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