Taylor, Graham W, Hinton, Geoffrey E.

Products of Hidden Markov Models(PoHMMs) are an interesting class of generative models which have received little attention since their introduction. This maybe in part due to their more computationally expensive gradient-based learning algorithm,and the intractability of computing the log likelihood of sequences under the model. In this paper, we demonstrate how the partition function can be estimated reliably via Annealed Importance Sampling. We perform experiments using contrastive divergence learning on rainfall data and data captured from pairs of people dancing. Our results suggest that advances in learning and evaluation for undirected graphical models and recent increases in available computing power make PoHMMs worth considering for complex time-series modeling tasks.

Gaussian Graphical Models (GGMs) or Gauss Markov random fields are widely used in many applications, and the trade-off between the modeling capacity and the efficiency of learning and inference has been an important research problem. In this paper, we study the family of GGMs with small feedback vertex sets (FVSs), where an FVS is a set of nodes whose removal breaks all the cycles. Exact inference such as computing the marginal distributions and the partition function has complexity $O(k^{2}n)$ using message-passing algorithms, where k is the size of the FVS, and n is the total number of nodes. We propose efficient structure learning algorithms for two cases: 1) All nodes are observed, which is useful in modeling social or flight networks where the FVS nodes often correspond to a small number of high-degree nodes, or hubs, while the rest of the networks is modeled by a tree. Regardless of the maximum degree, without knowing the full graph structure, we can exactly compute the maximum likelihood estimate in $O(kn^2+n^2\log n)$ if the FVS is known or in polynomial time if the FVS is unknown but has bounded size. 2) The FVS nodes are latent variables, where structure learning is equivalent to decomposing a inverse covariance matrix (exactly or approximately) into the sum of a tree-structured matrix and a low-rank matrix. By incorporating efficient inference into the learning steps, we can obtain a learning algorithm using alternating low-rank correction with complexity $O(kn^{2}+n^{2}\log n)$ per iteration. We also perform experiments using both synthetic data as well as real data of flight delays to demonstrate the modeling capacity with FVSs of various sizes. We show that empirically the family of GGMs of size $O(\log n)$ strikes a good balance between the modeling capacity and the efficiency.

Choi, Myung Jin, Tan, Vincent Y. F., Anandkumar, Animashree, Willsky, Alan S.

We study the problem of learning a latent tree graphical model where samples are available only from a subset of variables. We propose two consistent and computationally efficient algorithms for learning minimal latent trees, that is, trees without any redundant hidden nodes. Unlike many existing methods, the observed nodes (or variables) are not constrained to be leaf nodes. Our first algorithm, recursive grouping, builds the latent tree recursively by identifying sibling groups using so-called information distances. One of the main contributions of this work is our second algorithm, which we refer to as CLGrouping. CLGrouping starts with a pre-processing procedure in which a tree over the observed variables is constructed. This global step groups the observed nodes that are likely to be close to each other in the true latent tree, thereby guiding subsequent recursive grouping (or equivalent procedures) on much smaller subsets of variables. This results in more accurate and efficient learning of latent trees. We also present regularized versions of our algorithms that learn latent tree approximations of arbitrary distributions. We compare the proposed algorithms to other methods by performing extensive numerical experiments on various latent tree graphical models such as hidden Markov models and star graphs. In addition, we demonstrate the applicability of our methods on real-world datasets by modeling the dependency structure of monthly stock returns in the S&P index and of the words in the 20 newsgroups dataset.

Chechetka, Anton, Guestrin, Carlos

We present a simple and effective approach to learning tractable conditional random fieldswith structure that depends on the evidence. Our approach retains the advantages of tractable discriminative models, namely efficient exact inference and arbitrarily accurate parameter learning in polynomial time. At the same time, our algorithm does not suffer a large expressive power penalty inherent to fixed tractable structures. On real-life relational datasets, our approach matches or exceeds stateof the art accuracy of the dense models, and at the same time provides an order of magnitude speedup.