Robust Bayesian models are appealing alternatives to standard models, providing protection from data that contains outliers or other departures from the model assumptions. Historically, robust models were mostly developed on a case-by-case basis; examples include robust linear regression, robust mixture models, and bursty topic models. In this paper we develop a general approach to robust Bayesian modeling. We show how to turn an existing Bayesian model into a robust model, and then develop a generic strategy for computing with it. We use our method to study robust variants of several models, including linear regression, Poisson regression, logistic regression, and probabilistic topic models. We discuss the connections between our methods and existing approaches, especially empirical Bayes and James-Stein estimation.
We present a competitive analysis of Bayesian learning algorithms in the online learning setting and show that many simple Bayesian algorithms (such as Gaussian linear regression and Bayesian logistic regression) perform favorablywhen compared, in retrospect, to the single best model in the model class. The analysis does not assume that the Bayesian algorithms' modelingassumptions are "correct," and our bounds hold even if the data is adversarially chosen. For Gaussian linear regression (using logloss),our error bounds are comparable to the best bounds in the online learning literature, and we also provide a lower bound showing that Gaussian linear regression is optimal in a certain worst case sense. We also give bounds for some widely used maximum a posteriori (MAP) estimation algorithms, including regularized logistic regression.
Who has not heard that Bayesian statistics are difficult, computationally slow, cannot scale-up to big data, the results are subjective; and we don't need it at all? Do we really need to learn a lot of math and a lot of classical statistics first before approaching Bayesian techniques. Why do the most popular books about Bayesian statistics have over 500 pages? Bayesian nightmare is real or myth? Someone once compared Bayesian approach to the kitchen of a Michelin star chef with high-quality chef knife, a stockpot and an expensive sautee pan; while Frequentism is like your ordinary kitchen, with banana slicers and pasta pots. People talk about Bayesianism and Frequentism as if they were two different religions. Does Bayes really put more burden on the data scientist to use her brain at the outset because Bayesianism is a religion for the brightest of the brightest?
The use of Bayesian methods in large-scale data settings is attractive because of the rich hierarchical models, uncertainty quantification, and prior specification they provide. Standard Bayesian inference algorithms are computationally expensive, however, making their direct application to large datasets difficult or infeasible. Recent work on scaling Bayesian inference has focused on modifying the underlying algorithms to, for example, use only a random data subsample at each iteration. We leverage the insight that data is often redundant to instead obtain a weighted subset of the data (called a coreset) that is much smaller than the original dataset. We can then use this small coreset in any number of existing posterior inference algorithms without modification.
Online Passive-Aggressive (PA) learning is a class of online margin-based algorithms suitable for a wide range of real-time prediction tasks, including classification and regression. PA algorithms are formulated in terms of deterministic point-estimation problems governed by a set of user-defined hyperparameters: the approach fails to capture model/prediction uncertainty and makes their performance highly sensitive to hyperparameter configurations. In this paper, we introduce a novel PA learning framework for regression that overcomes the above limitations. We contribute a Bayesian state-space interpretation of PA regression, along with a novel online variational inference scheme, that not only produces probabilistic predictions, but also offers the benefit of automatic hyperparameter tuning. Experiments with various real-world data sets show that our approach performs significantly better than a more standard, linear Gaussian state-space model.