Dirichlet-Multinomial compound distribution.

Inherits From: Distribution

The Dirichlet-Multinomial distribution is parameterized by a (batch of) length-K concentration vectors (K > 1) and a total_count number of trials, i.e., the number of trials per draw from the DirichletMultinomial. It is defined over a (batch of) length-K vector counts such that tf.reduce_sum(counts, -1) = total_count. The Dirichlet-Multinomial is identically the Beta-Binomial distribution when K = 2.

Mathematical Details

The Dirichlet-Multinomial is a distribution over K-class counts, i.e., a length-K vector of non-negative integer counts = n = [n_0, ..., n_{K-1}].

The probability mass function (pmf) is,

pmf(n; alpha, N) = Beta(alpha + n) / (prod_j n_j!) / Z
Z = Beta(alpha) / N!


  • concentration = alpha = [alpha_0, ..., alpha_{K-1}], alpha_j > 0,
  • total_count = N, N a positive integer,
  • N! is N factorial, and,
  • Beta(x) = prod_j Gamma(x_j) / Gamma(sum_j x_j) is the multivariate beta function, and,
  • Gamma is the gamma function.

Dirichlet-Multinomial is a compound distribution, i.e., its samples are generated as follows.

  1. Choose class probabilities: probs = [p_0,...,p_{K-1}] ~ Dir(concentration)
  2. Draw integers: counts = [n_0,...,n_{K-1}] ~ Multinomial(total_count, probs)

The last concentration dimension parametrizes a single Dirichlet-Multinomial distribution. When calling distribution functions (e.g., dist.prob(counts)), concentration, total_count and counts are broadcast to the same shape. The last dimension of counts corresponds single Dirichlet-Multinomial distributions.

Distribution parameters are automatically broadcast in all functions; see examples for details.


The number of classes, K, must not exceed:

  • the largest integer representable by self.dtype, i.e., 2**(mantissa_bits+1) (IEE754),
  • the maximum Tensor index, i.e., 2**31-1.

In other words,

K <= min(2**31-1, {
  tf.float16: 2**11,
  tf.float32: 2**24,
  tf.float64: 2**53 }[param.dtype])


alpha = [1., 2., 3.]
n = 2.
dist = DirichletMultinomial(n, alpha)

Creates a 3-class distribution, with the 3rd class is most likely to be drawn. The distribution functions can be evaluated on counts.

# counts same shape as alpha.
counts = [0., 0., 2.]
dist.prob(counts)  # Shape []

# alpha will be broadcast to [[1., 2., 3.], [1., 2., 3.]] to match counts.
counts = [[1., 1., 0.], [1., 0., 1.]]
dist.prob(counts)  # Shape [2]

# alpha will be broadcast to shape [5, 7, 3] to match counts.
counts = [[...]]  # Shape [5, 7, 3]
dist.prob(counts)  # Shape [5, 7]

Creates a 2-batch of 3-class distributions.

alpha = [[1., 2., 3.], [4., 5., 6.]]  # Shape [2, 3]
n = [3., 3.]
dist = DirichletMultinomial(n, alpha)

# counts will be broadcast to [[2., 1., 0.], [2., 1., 0.]] to match alpha.
counts = [2., 1., 0.]
dist.prob(counts)  # Shape [2]

total_count Non-negative floating point tensor, whose dtype is the same as concentration. The shape is broadcastable to [N1,..., Nm] with m >= 0. Defines this as a batch of N1 x ... x Nm different Dirichlet multinomial distributions. Its components should be equal to integer values.
concentration Positive floating point tensor, whose dtype is the same as n with shape broadcastable to [N1,..., Nm, K] m >= 0. Defines this as a batch of N1 x ... x Nm different K class Dirichlet multinomial distributions.
validate_args Python bool, default False. When True distribution parameters are checked for validity despite possibly degrading runtime performance. When False invalid inputs may silently render incorrect outputs.
allow_nan_stats Python bool, default True. When True, statistics (e.g., mean, mode, variance) use the value "NaN" to indicate the result is undefined. When False, an exception is raised if one or more of the statistic's batch members are undefined.
name Python str name prefixed to Ops created by this class.

allow_nan_stats Python bool describing behavior when a stat is undefined.

Stats return +/- infinity when it makes sense. E.g., the variance of a Cauchy distribution is infinity. However, sometimes the statistic is undefined, e.g., if a distribution's pdf