Murray, Paula M., McNicholas, Paul D., Browne, Ryan P.

A mixture of common skew-t factor analyzers model is introduced for model-based clustering of high-dimensional data. By assuming common component factor loadings, this model allows clustering to be performed in the presence of a large number of mixture components or when the number of dimensions is too large to be well-modelled by the mixtures of factor analyzers model or a variant thereof. Furthermore, assuming that the component densities follow a skew-t distribution allows robust clustering of skewed data. The alternating expectation-conditional maximization algorithm is employed for parameter estimation. We demonstrate excellent clustering performance when our model is applied to real and simulated data.This paper marks the first time that skewed common factors have been used.

Fard, Mahdi MIlani, Pineau, Joelle, Szepesvari, Csaba

Bayesian priors offer a compact yet general means of incorporating domain knowledge into many learning tasks. The correctness of the Bayesian analysis and inference, however, largely depends on accuracy and correctness of these priors. PAC-Bayesian methods overcome this problem by providing bounds that hold regardless of the correctness of the prior distribution. This paper introduces the first PAC-Bayesian bound for the batch reinforcement learning problem with function approximation. We show how this bound can be used to perform model-selection in a transfer learning scenario. Our empirical results confirm that PAC-Bayesian policy evaluation is able to leverage prior distributions when they are informative and, unlike standard Bayesian RL approaches, ignore them when they are misleading.

Franczak, Brian C., McNicholas, Paul D., Browne, Ryan P., Murray, Paula M.

A family of parsimonious shifted asymmetric Laplace mixture models is introduced. We extend the mixture of factor analyzers model to the shifted asymmetric Laplace distribution. Imposing constraints on the constitute parts of the resulting decomposed component scale matrices leads to a family of parsimonious models. An explicit two-stage parameter estimation procedure is described, and the Bayesian information criterion and the integrated completed likelihood are compared for model selection. This novel family of models is applied to real data, where it is compared to its Gaussian analogue within clustering and classification paradigms.

Bayesian networks are a popular representation of asymmetric (for example causal) relationships between random variables. Markov random fields (MRFs) are a complementary model of symmetric relationships used in computer vision, spatial modeling, and social and gene expression networks. A chain graph model under the Lauritzen-Wermuth-Frydenberg interpretation (hereafter a chain graph model) generalizes both Bayesian networks and MRFs, and can represent asymmetric and symmetric relationships together.As in other graphical models, the set of marginals from distributions in a chain graph model induced by the presence of hidden variables forms a complex model. One recent approach to the study of marginal graphical models is to consider a well-behaved supermodel. Such a supermodel of marginals of Bayesian networks, defined only by conditional independences, and termed the ordinary Markov model, was studied at length in (Evans and Richardson, 2014).In this paper, we show that special mixed graphs which we call segregated graphs can be associated, via a Markov property, with supermodels of a marginal of chain graphs defined only by conditional independences. Special features of segregated graphs imply the existence of a very natural factorization for these supermodels, and imply many existing results on the chain graph model, and ordinary Markov model carry over. Our results suggest that segregated graphs define an analogue of the ordinary Markov model for marginals of chain graph models.

Saeedi, Ardavan, Bouchard-côté, Alexandre

We introduce the Gamma-Exponential Process (GEP), a prior over a large family ofcontinuous time stochastic processes. A hierarchical version of this prior (HGEP; the Hierarchical GEP) yields a useful model for analyzing complex time series. Models based on HGEPs display many attractive properties: conjugacy, exchangeability and closed-form predictive distribution for the waiting times, and exact Gibbs updates for the time scale parameters. After establishing these properties, weshow how posterior inference can be carried efficiently using Particle MCMC methods [1]. This yields a MCMC algorithm that can resample entire sequences atomicallywhile avoiding the complications of introducing slice and stick auxiliary variables of the beam sampler [2]. We applied our model to the problem of estimating the disease progression in multiple sclerosis [3], and to RNA evolutionary modeling[4]. In both domains, we found that our model outperformed the standard rate matrix estimation approach.