IBM has teamed up with Local Motors, a Phoenix-based automotive manufacturer that made the first 3D-printed car, to create a self-driving electric bus. Named "Olli," the bus has room for 12 people and uses IBM Watson's cloud-based cognitive computing system to provide information to passengers. In addition to automatically driving you where you want to go using Phoenix Wings autonomous driving technology, Olli can respond to questions and provide information, similar to Amazon's Echo home assistant. The bus debuts today in the Washington D.C. area for the public to use during select times over the next several months, and the IBM-Local Motors team hopes to introduce Olli to the Miami and Las Vegas areas by the end of the year. By using Watson's speech to text, natural language classifier, entity extraction, and text to speech APIs, the bus can provide several services beyond taking you to your destination.

Franczak, Brian C., McNicholas, Paul D., Browne, Ryan P., Murray, Paula M.

A family of parsimonious shifted asymmetric Laplace mixture models is introduced. We extend the mixture of factor analyzers model to the shifted asymmetric Laplace distribution. Imposing constraints on the constitute parts of the resulting decomposed component scale matrices leads to a family of parsimonious models. An explicit two-stage parameter estimation procedure is described, and the Bayesian information criterion and the integrated completed likelihood are compared for model selection. This novel family of models is applied to real data, where it is compared to its Gaussian analogue within clustering and classification paradigms.

Wei, Yuhong, McNicholas, Paul D.

In mixture model-based clustering applications, it is common to fit several models from a family and report clustering results from only the `best' one. In such circumstances, selection of this best model is achieved using a model selection criterion, most often the Bayesian information criterion. Rather than throw away all but the best model, we average multiple models that are in some sense close to the best one, thereby producing a weighted average of clustering results. Two (weighted) averaging approaches are considered: averaging the component membership probabilities and averaging models. In both cases, Occam's window is used to determine closeness to the best model and weights are computed within a Bayesian model averaging paradigm. In some cases, we need to merge components before averaging; we introduce a method for merging mixture components based on the adjusted Rand index. The effectiveness of our model-based clustering averaging approaches is illustrated using a family of Gaussian mixture models on real and simulated data.

Subedi, Sanjeena, McNicholas, Paul D.

Parameter estimation for model-based clustering using a finite mixture of normal inverse Gaussian (NIG) distributions is achieved through variational Bayes approximations. Univariate NIG mixtures and multivariate NIG mixtures are considered. The use of variational Bayes approximations here is a substantial departure from the traditional EM approach and alleviates some of the associated computational complexities and uncertainties. Our variational algorithm is applied to simulated and real data. The paper concludes with discussion and suggestions for future work.

Kabashima, Yoshiyuki, Krzakala, Florent, Mézard, Marc, Sakata, Ayaka, Zdeborová, Lenka

We analyse the matrix factorization problem. Given a noisy measurement of a product of two matrices, the problem is to estimate back the original matrices. It arises in many applications such as dictionary learning, blind matrix calibration, sparse principal component analysis, blind source separation, low rank matrix completion, robust principal component analysis or factor analysis. It is also important in machine learning: unsupervised representation learning can often be studied through matrix factorization. We use the tools of statistical mechanics - the cavity and replica methods - to analyze the achievability and computational tractability of the inference problems in the setting of Bayes-optimal inference, which amounts to assuming that the two matrices have random independent elements generated from some known distribution, and this information is available to the inference algorithm. In this setting, we compute the minimal mean-squared-error achievable in principle in any computational time, and the error that can be achieved by an efficient approximate message passing algorithm. The computation is based on the asymptotic state-evolution analysis of the algorithm. The performance that our analysis predicts, both in terms of the achieved mean-squared-error, and in terms of sample complexity, is extremely promising and motivating for a further development of the algorithm.