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.

Kakade, Sham M., Ng, Andrew Y.

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.

Samé, Allou, Chamroukhi, Faicel, Govaert, Gérard, Aknin, Patrice

Mixture model-based clustering, usually applied to multidimensional data, has become a popular approach in many data analysis problems, both for its good statistical properties and for the simplicity of implementation of the Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm. Within the context of a railway application, this paper introduces a novel mixture model for dealing with time series that are subject to changes in regime. The proposed approach consists in modeling each cluster by a regression model in which the polynomial coefficients vary according to a discrete hidden process. In particular, this approach makes use of logistic functions to model the (smooth or abrupt) transitions between regimes. The model parameters are estimated by the maximum likelihood method solved by an Expectation-Maximization algorithm. The proposed approach can also be regarded as a clustering approach which operates by finding groups of time series having common changes in regime. In addition to providing a time series partition, it therefore provides a time series segmentation. The problem of selecting the optimal numbers of clusters and segments is solved by means of the Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC). The proposed approach is shown to be efficient using a variety of simulated time series and real-world time series of electrical power consumption from rail switching operations.

Heckerman, David, Meek, Christopher

When performing regression or classification, we are interested in the conditional probability distribution for an outcome or class variable Y given a set of explanatoryor input variables X. We consider Bayesian models for this task. In particular, we examine a special class of models, which we call Bayesian regression/classification (BRC) models, that can be factored into independent conditional (y|x) and input (x) models. These models are convenient, because the conditional model (the portion of the full model that we care about) can be analyzed by itself. We examine the practice of transforming arbitrary Bayesian models to BRC models, and argue that this practice is often inappropriate because it ignores prior knowledge that may be important for learning. In addition, we examine Bayesian methods for learning models from data. We discuss two criteria for Bayesian model selection that are appropriate for repression/classification: one described by Spiegelhalter et al. (1993), and another by Buntine (1993). We contrast these two criteria using the prequential framework of Dawid (1984), and give sufficient conditions under which the criteria agree.

Tree ensembles, such as random forests and boosted trees, are renowned for their high prediction performance. However, their interpretability is critically limited due to the enormous complexity. In this study, we present a method to make a complex tree ensemble interpretable by simplifying the model. Specifically, we formalize the simplification of tree ensembles as a model selection problem. Given a complex tree ensemble, we aim at obtaining the simplest representation that is essentially equivalent to the original one. To this end, we derive a Bayesian model selection algorithm that optimizes the simplified model while maintaining the prediction performance. Our numerical experiments on several datasets showed that complicated tree ensembles were reasonably approximated as interpretable.