Nested Chinese Restaurant Process (nCRP) topic models are powerful nonparametric Bayesian methods to extract a topic hierarchy from a given text corpus, where the hierarchical structure is automatically determined by the data. Hierarchical Latent Dirichlet Allocation (hLDA) is a popular instance of nCRP topic models. However, hLDA has only been evaluated at small scale, because the existing collapsed Gibbs sampling and instantiated weight variational inference algorithms either are not scalable or sacrifice inference quality with mean-field assumptions. Moreover, an efficient distributed implementation of the data structures, such as dynamically growing count matrices and trees, is challenging. In this paper, we propose a novel partially collapsed Gibbs sampling (PCGS) algorithm, which combines the advantages of collapsed and instantiated weight algorithms to achieve good scalability as well as high model quality. An initialization strategy is presented to further improve the model quality. Finally, we propose an efficient distributed implementation of PCGS through vectorization, pre-processing, and a careful design of the concurrent data structures and communication strategy. Empirical studies show that our algorithm is 111 times more efficient than the previous open-source implementation for hLDA, with comparable or even better model quality. Our distributed implementation can extract 1,722 topics from a 131-million-document corpus with 28 billion tokens, which is 4-5 orders of magnitude larger than the previous largest corpus, with 50 machines in 7 hours.
We consider the problem of estimating the parameters of a Gaussian or binary distribution in such a way that the resulting undirected graphical model is sparse. Our approach is to solve a maximum likelihood problem with an added l_1-norm penalty term. The problem as formulated is convex but the memory requirements and complexity of existing interior point methods are prohibitive for problems with more than tens of nodes. We present two new algorithms for solving problems with at least a thousand nodes in the Gaussian case. Our first algorithm uses block coordinate descent, and can be interpreted as recursive l_1-norm penalized regression. Our second algorithm, based on Nesterov's first order method, yields a complexity estimate with a better dependence on problem size than existing interior point methods. Using a log determinant relaxation of the log partition function (Wainwright & Jordan (2006)), we show that these same algorithms can be used to solve an approximate sparse maximum likelihood problem for the binary case. We test our algorithms on synthetic data, as well as on gene expression and senate voting records data.
The personality of a leader can be used to predict that leader's actions as well as those of the group that he or she leads. However, except for a small number of well-known leaders, the personality of leaders must be inferred from actions and other evidence. We have developed a Bayesian network to infer leader personality variables related to violence from evidence of leader and group actions and the situational demands and context in which the actions occur. The network was applied to a historical situation, and its ability to distinguish extreme personalities was established.
Bayesian inference has great promise for the privacy-preserving analysis of sensitive data, as posterior sampling automatically preserves differential privacy, an algorithmic notion of data privacy, under certain conditions (Dimitrakakis et al., 2014; Wang et al., 2015). While this one posterior sample (OPS) approach elegantly provides privacy "for free," it is data inefficient in the sense of asymptotic relative efficiency (ARE). We show that a simple alternative based on the Laplace mechanism, the workhorse of differential privacy, is as asymptotically efficient as non-private posterior inference, under general assumptions. This technique also has practical advantages including efficient use of the privacy budget for MCMC. We demonstrate the practicality of our approach on a time-series analysis of sensitive military records from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars disclosed by the Wikileaks organization.
The classical mixture of Gaussians model is related to K-means via small-variance asymptotics: as the covariances of the Gaussians tend to zero, the negative log-likelihood of the mixture of Gaussians model approaches the K-means objective, and the EM algorithm approaches the K-means algorithm. Kulis & Jordan (2012) used this observation to obtain a novel K-means-like algorithm from a Gibbs sampler for the Dirichlet process (DP) mixture. We instead consider applying small-variance asymptotics directly to the posterior in Bayesian nonparametric models. This framework is independent of any specific Bayesian inference algorithm, and it has the major advantage that it generalizes immediately to a range of models beyond the DP mixture. To illustrate, we apply our framework to the feature learning setting, where the beta process and Indian buffet process provide an appropriate Bayesian nonparametric prior. We obtain a novel objective function that goes beyond clustering to learn (and penalize new) groupings for which we relax the mutual exclusivity and exhaustivity assumptions of clustering. We demonstrate several other algorithms, all of which are scalable and simple to implement. Empirical results demonstrate the benefits of the new framework.