Crawford, Lorin, Wood, Kris C., Zhou, Xiang, Mukherjee, Sayan

Nonlinear kernel regression models are often used in statistics and machine learning because they are more accurate than linear models. Variable selection for kernel regression models is a challenge partly because, unlike the linear regression setting, there is no clear concept of an effect size for regression coefficients. In this paper, we propose a novel framework that provides an effect size analog of each explanatory variable for Bayesian kernel regression models when the kernel is shift-invariant --- for example, the Gaussian kernel. We use function analytic properties of shift-invariant reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces (RKHS) to define a linear vector space that: (i) captures nonlinear structure, and (ii) can be projected onto the original explanatory variables. The projection onto the original explanatory variables serves as an analog of effect sizes. The specific function analytic property we use is that shift-invariant kernel functions can be approximated via random Fourier bases. Based on the random Fourier expansion we propose a computationally efficient class of Bayesian approximate kernel regression (BAKR) models for both nonlinear regression and binary classification for which one can compute an analog of effect sizes. We illustrate the utility of BAKR by examining two important problems in statistical genetics: genomic selection (i.e. phenotypic prediction) and association mapping (i.e. inference of significant variants or loci). State-of-the-art methods for genomic selection and association mapping are based on kernel regression and linear models, respectively. BAKR is the first method that is competitive in both settings.

Crawford, Lorin, Flaxman, Seth R., Runcie, Daniel E., West, Mike

The central aim in this paper is to address variable selection questions in nonlinear and nonparametric regression. Motivated by statistical genetics, where nonlinear interactions are of particular interest, we introduce a novel, interpretable, and computationally efficient way to summarize the relative importance of predictor variables. Methodologically, we develop the "RelATive cEntrality" (RATE) measure to prioritize candidate genetic variants that are not just marginally important, but whose associations also stem from significant covarying relationships with other variants in the data. We illustrate RATE through Bayesian Gaussian process regression, but the methodological innovations apply to other nonlinear methods. It is known that nonlinear models often exhibit greater predictive accuracy than linear models, particularly for phenotypes generated by complex genetic architectures. With detailed simulations and an Arabidopsis thaliana QTL mapping study, we show that applying RATE enables an explanation for this improved performance.

Chipman, Hugh A., George, Edward I., Mcculloch, Robert E.

We develop a Bayesian "sum-of-trees" model, named BART, where each tree is constrained by a prior to be a weak learner. Fitting and inference are accomplished via an iterative backfitting MCMC algorithm. This model is motivated by ensemble methodsin general, and boosting algorithms in particular. Like boosting, each weak learner (i.e., each weak tree) contributes a small amount to the overall model. However, our procedure is defined by a statistical model: a prior and a likelihood, while boosting is defined by an algorithm. This model-based approach enables a full and accurate assessment of uncertainty in model predictions, while remaining highly competitive in terms of predictive accuracy.

Bhadra, Anindya, Datta, Jyotishka, Li, Yunfan, Polson, Nicholas G.

Since the advent of the horseshoe priors for regularization, global-local shrinkage methods have proved to be a fertile ground for the development of Bayesian methodology in machine learning, specifically for high-dimensional regression and classification problems. They have achieved remarkable success in computation, and enjoy strong theoretical support. Most of the existing literature has focused on the linear Gaussian case; see Bhadra et al. (2019) for a systematic survey. The purpose of the current article is to demonstrate that the horseshoe regularization is useful far more broadly, by reviewing both methodological and computational developments in complex models that are more relevant to machine learning applications. Specifically, we focus on methodological challenges in horseshoe regularization in nonlinear and non-Gaussian models; multivariate models; and deep neural networks. We also outline the recent computational developments in horseshoe shrinkage for complex models along with a list of available software implementations that allows one to venture out beyond the comfort zone of the canonical linear regression problems.

Tay, J. Kenneth, Tibshirani, Robert

Sparse generalized additive models (GAMs) are an extension of sparse generalized linear models which allow a model's prediction to vary non-linearly with an input variable. This enables the data analyst build more accurate models, especially when the linearity assumption is known to be a poor approximation of reality. Motivated by reluctant interaction modeling (Yu et al. 2019), we propose a multi-stage algorithm, called $\textit{reluctant additive modeling (RAM)}$, that can fit sparse generalized additive models at scale. It is guided by the principle that, if all else is equal, one should prefer a linear feature over a non-linear feature. Unlike existing methods for sparse GAMs, RAM can be extended easily to binary, count and survival data. We demonstrate the method's effectiveness on real and simulated examples.