Evidence and Belief

AAAI Conferences

We discuss the representation of knowledge and of belief from the viewpoint of decision theory. While the Bayesian approach enjoys general-purpose applicability and axiomatic foundations, it suffers from several drawbacks. In particular, it does not model the belief formation process, and does not relate beliefs to evidence. We survey alternative approaches, and focus on formal model of casebased prediction and case-based decisions. A formal model of belief and knowledge representation needs to address several questions. The most basic ones are: (i) how do we represent knowledge?


Using More Reasoning to Improve #SAT Solving

AAAI Conferences

Many real-world problems, including inference in Bayes Nets, can be reduced to #SAT, the problem of counting the number of models of a propositional theory. This has motivated the need for efficient #SAT solvers. Currently, such solvers utilize a modified version of DPLL that employs decomposition and caching, techniques that significantly increase the time it takes to process each node in the search space. In addition, the search space is significantly larger than when solving SAT since we must continue searching even after the first solution has been found. It has previously been demonstrated that the size of a DPLL search tree can be significantly reduced by doing more reasoning at each node. However, for SAT the reductions gained are often not worth the extra time required. In this paper we verify the hypothesis that for #SAT this balance changes. In particular, we show that additional reasoning can reduce the size of a #SAT solver's search space, that this reduction cannot always be achieved by the already utilized technique of clause learning, and that this additional reasoning can be cost effective.


Characterizing neural dependencies with copula models

Neural Information Processing Systems

The coding of information by neural populations depends critically on the statistical dependencies between neuronal responses. However, there is no simple model that combines the observations that (1) marginal distributions over single-neuron spike counts are often approximately Poisson; and (2) joint distributions over the responses of multiple neurons are often strongly dependent. Here, we show that both marginal and joint properties of neural responses can be captured using Poisson copula models. Copulas are joint distributions that allow random variables with arbitrary marginals to be combined while incorporating arbitrary dependencies between them. Different copulas capture different kinds of dependencies, allowing for a richer and more detailed description of dependencies than traditional summary statistics, such as correlation coefficients. We explore a variety of Poisson copula models for joint neural response distributions, and derive an efficient maximum likelihood procedure for estimating them. We apply these models to neuronal data collected in and macaque motor cortex, and quantify the improvement in coding accuracy afforded by incorporating the dependency structure between pairs of neurons.


Bayesian Non-Homogeneous Markov Models via Polya-Gamma Data Augmentation with Applications to Rainfall Modeling

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Discrete-time hidden Markov models are a broadly useful class of latent-variable models with applications in areas such as speech recognition, bioinformatics, and climate data analysis. It is common in practice to introduce temporal non-homogeneity into such models by making the transition probabilities dependent on time-varying exogenous input variables via a multinomial logistic parametrization. We extend such models to introduce additional non-homogeneity into the emission distribution using a generalized linear model (GLM), with data augmentation for sampling-based inference. However, the presence of the logistic function in the state transition model significantly complicates parameter inference for the overall model, particularly in a Bayesian context. To address this we extend the recently-proposed Polya-Gamma data augmentation approach to handle non-homogeneous hidden Markov models (NHMMs), allowing the development of an efficient Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling scheme. We apply our model and inference scheme to 30 years of daily rainfall in India, leading to a number of insights into rainfall-related phenomena in the region. Our proposed approach allows for fully Bayesian analysis of relatively complex NHMMs on a scale that was not possible with previous methods. Software implementing the methods described in the paper is available via the R package NHMM.


Scan Order in Gibbs Sampling: Models in Which it Matters and Bounds on How Much

Neural Information Processing Systems

Gibbs sampling is a Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling technique that iteratively samples variables from their conditional distributions. There are two common scan orders for the variables: random scan and systematic scan. Due to the benefits of locality in hardware, systematic scan is commonly used, even though most statistical guarantees are only for random scan. While it has been conjectured that the mixing times of random scan and systematic scan do not differ by more than a logarithmic factor, we show by counterexample that this is not the case, and we prove that that the mixing times do not differ by more than a polynomial factor under mild conditions. To prove these relative bounds, we introduce a method of augmenting the state space to study systematic scan using conductance.