Collaborating Authors

Sparse additive Gaussian process with soft interactions Machine Learning

Additive nonparametric regression models provide an attractive tool for variable selection in high dimensions when the relationship between the response and predictors is complex. They offer greater flexibility compared to parametric non-linear regression models and better interpretability and scalability than the non-parametric regression models. However, achieving sparsity simultaneously in the number of nonparametric components as well as in the variables within each nonparametric component poses a stiff computational challenge. In this article, we develop a novel Bayesian additive regression model using a combination of hard and soft shrinkages to separately control the number of additive components and the variables within each component. An efficient algorithm is developed to select the importance variables and estimate the interaction network. Excellent performance is obtained in simulated and real data examples.

Bayesian and L1 Approaches to Sparse Unsupervised Learning Artificial Intelligence

The use of L1 regularisation for sparse learning has generated immense research interest, with successful application in such diverse areas as signal acquisition, image coding, genomics and collaborative filtering. While existing work highlights the many advantages of L1 methods, in this paper we find that L1 regularisation often dramatically underperforms in terms of predictive performance when compared with other methods for inferring sparsity. We focus on unsupervised latent variable models, and develop L1 minimising factor models, Bayesian variants of "L1", and Bayesian models with a stronger L0-like sparsity induced through spike-and-slab distributions. These spike-and-slab Bayesian factor models encourage sparsity while accounting for uncertainty in a principled manner and avoiding unnecessary shrinkage of non-zero values. We demonstrate on a number of data sets that in practice spike-and-slab Bayesian methods outperform L1 minimisation, even on a computational budget. We thus highlight the need to re-assess the wide use of L1 methods in sparsity-reliant applications, particularly when we care about generalising to previously unseen data, and provide an alternative that, over many varying conditions, provides improved generalisation performance.

The Bayesian Bridge Machine Learning

We propose the Bayesian bridge estimator for regularized regression and classification. Two key mixture representations for the Bayesian bridge model are developed: (1) a scale mixture of normals with respect to an alpha-stable random variable; and (2) a mixture of Bartlett--Fejer kernels (or triangle densities) with respect to a two-component mixture of gamma random variables. Both lead to MCMC methods for posterior simulation, and these methods turn out to have complementary domains of maximum efficiency. The first representation is a well known result due to West (1987), and is the better choice for collinear design matrices. The second representation is new, and is more efficient for orthogonal problems, largely because it avoids the need to deal with exponentially tilted stable random variables. It also provides insight into the multimodality of the joint posterior distribution, a feature of the bridge model that is notably absent under ridge or lasso-type priors. We prove a theorem that extends this representation to a wider class of densities representable as scale mixtures of betas, and provide an explicit inversion formula for the mixing distribution. The connections with slice sampling and scale mixtures of normals are explored. On the practical side, we find that the Bayesian bridge model outperforms its classical cousin in estimation and prediction across a variety of data sets, both simulated and real. We also show that the MCMC for fitting the bridge model exhibits excellent mixing properties, particularly for the global scale parameter. This makes for a favorable contrast with analogous MCMC algorithms for other sparse Bayesian models. All methods described in this paper are implemented in the R package BayesBridge. An extensive set of simulation results are provided in two supplemental files.

Learning in Brains and Machines (2): The Dogma of Sparsity


The functioning of our brains, much like the intrigue of a political drama, is a neuronal house-of-cards. The halls of cognitive power are run by recurring alliances of neurons that deliberately conspire to control information processing and decision making. 'Suspicious coincidences' in neural activation--as the celebrated neuroscientist Horace Barlow observed--are abound; transparency in neural decision-making is needed. Barlow sought a deeper understanding of these processes, and to provoke debate, tabled five dogma of neural information processing [1]. Of these dogma, Barlow's second proclaimed that the neuronal system is'organised to achieve as complete a representation as possible with the minimum number of active neurons'.

Bayesian inference for spatio-temporal spike-and-slab priors Machine Learning

In this work, we address the problem of solving a series of underdetermined linear inverse problems subject to a sparsity constraint. We generalize the spike-and-slab prior distribution to encode a priori correlation of the support of the solution in both space and time by imposing a transformed Gaussian process on the spike-and-slab probabilities. An expectation propagation (EP) algorithm for posterior inference under the proposed model is derived. For large scale problems, the standard EP algorithm can be prohibitively slow. We therefore introduce three different approximation schemes to reduce the computational complexity. Finally, we demonstrate the proposed model using numerical experiments based on both synthetic and real data sets.