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sbi: simulation-based inference

Getting Started | Documentation

sbi is a PyTorch package for simulation-based inference. Simulation-based inference is
the process of finding parameters of a simulator from observations.

sbi takes a Bayesian approach and returns a full posterior distribution over the parameters, conditional on the observations. This posterior can be amortized (i.e. useful for any observation) or focused (i.e. tailored to a particular observation), with different computational trade-offs.

sbi offers a simple interface for one-line posterior inference.

from sbi.inference import infer
# import your simulator, define your prior over the parameters
parameter_posterior = infer(simulator, prior, method='SNPE', num_simulations=100)

See below for the available methods of inference, SNPE, SNRE and SNLE.


sbi requires Python 3.6 or higher. We recommend to use a conda virtual environment (Miniconda installation instructions). If conda is installed on the system, an environment for installing sbi can be created as follows:

# Create an environment for sbi (indicate Python 3.6 or higher); activate it
$ conda create -n sbi_env python=3.7 && conda activate sbi_env

Independent of whether you are using conda or not, sbi can be installed using pip:

pip install sbi

To test the installation, drop into a python prompt and run

from sbi.examples.minimal import simple
posterior = simple()

Inference Algorithms

The following algorithms are currently available:

Sequential Neural Posterior Estimation (SNPE)

Sequential Neural Likelihood Estimation (SNLE)

Sequential Neural Ratio Estimation (SNRE)

Sequential Neural Variational Inference (SNVI)

Mixed Neural Likelihood Estimation (MNLE)

Feedback and Contributions

We would like to hear how sbi is working for your inference problems as well as receive bug reports, pull requests and other feedback (see contribute).


sbi is the successor (using PyTorch) of the delfi package. It was started as a fork of Conor M. Durkan's lfi. sbi runs as a community project; development is coordinated at the mackelab. See also credits.


sbi has been supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through the project ADIMEM, FKZ 01IS18052 A-D). ADIMEM is a collaborative project between the groups of Jakob Macke (Uni Tübingen), Philipp Berens (Uni Tübingen), Philipp Hennig (Uni Tübingen) and Marcel Oberlaender (caesar Bonn) which aims to develop inference methods for mechanistic models.


Affero General Public License v3 (AGPLv3)


If you use sbi consider citing the sbi software paper, in addition to the original research articles describing the specifc sbi-algorithm(s) you are using:

  doi = {10.21105/joss.02505},
  url = {},
  year = {2020},
  publisher = {The Open Journal},
  volume = {5},
  number = {52},
  pages = {2505},
  author = {Alvaro Tejero-Cantero and Jan Boelts and Michael Deistler and Jan-Matthis Lueckmann and Conor Durkan and Pedro J. Gonçalves and David S. Greenberg and Jakob H. Macke},
  title = {sbi: A toolkit for simulation-based inference},
  journal = {Journal of Open Source Software}