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A high-bias, low-variance introduction to Machine Learning for physicists

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Machine Learning (ML) is one of the most exciting and dynamic areas of modern research and application. The purpose of this review is to provide an introduction to the core concepts and tools of machine learning in a manner easily understood and intuitive to physicists. The review begins by covering fundamental concepts in ML and modern statistics such as the bias-variance tradeoff, overfitting, regularization, and generalization before moving on to more advanced topics in both supervised and unsupervised learning. Topics covered in the review include ensemble models, deep learning and neural networks, clustering and data visualization, energy-based models (including MaxEnt models and Restricted Boltzmann Machines), and variational methods. Throughout, we emphasize the many natural connections between ML and statistical physics. A notable aspect of the review is the use of Python notebooks to introduce modern ML/statistical packages to readers using physics-inspired datasets (the Ising Model and Monte-Carlo simulations of supersymmetric decays of proton-proton collisions). We conclude with an extended outlook discussing possible uses of machine learning for furthering our understanding of the physical world as well as open problems in ML where physicists maybe able to contribute. (Notebooks are available at https://physics.bu.edu/~pankajm/MLnotebooks.html )


New Polynomial Classes for Logic-Based Abduction

AAAI Conferences

We address the problem of propositional logic-based abduction, i.e., the problem of searching for a best explanation for a given propositional observation according to a given propositional knowledge base. We give a general algorithm, based on the notion of projection; then we study restrictions over the representations of the knowledge base and of the query, and find new polynomial classes of abduction problems.


Probabilistic Graphical Models for Credibility Analysis in Evolving Online Communities

arXiv.org Machine Learning

One of the major hurdles preventing the full exploitation of information from online communities is the widespread concern regarding the quality and credibility of user-contributed content. Prior works in this domain operate on a static snapshot of the community, making strong assumptions about the structure of the data (e.g., relational tables), or consider only shallow features for text classification. To address the above limitations, we propose probabilistic graphical models that can leverage the joint interplay between multiple factors in online communities --- like user interactions, community dynamics, and textual content --- to automatically assess the credibility of user-contributed online content, and the expertise of users and their evolution with user-interpretable explanation. To this end, we devise new models based on Conditional Random Fields for different settings like incorporating partial expert knowledge for semi-supervised learning, and handling discrete labels as well as numeric ratings for fine-grained analysis. This enables applications such as extracting reliable side-effects of drugs from user-contributed posts in healthforums, and identifying credible content in news communities. Online communities are dynamic, as users join and leave, adapt to evolving trends, and mature over time. To capture this dynamics, we propose generative models based on Hidden Markov Model, Latent Dirichlet Allocation, and Brownian Motion to trace the continuous evolution of user expertise and their language model over time. This allows us to identify expert users and credible content jointly over time, improving state-of-the-art recommender systems by explicitly considering the maturity of users. This also enables applications such as identifying helpful product reviews, and detecting fake and anomalous reviews with limited information.


Towards automated symptoms assessment in mental health

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Activity and motion analysis has the potential to be used as a diagnostic tool for mental disorders. However, to-date, little work has been performed in turning stratification measures of activity into useful symptom markers. The research presented in this thesis has focused on the identification of objective activity and behaviour metrics that could be useful for the analysis of mental health symptoms in the above mentioned dimensions. Particular attention is given to the analysis of objective differences between disorders, as well as identification of clinical episodes of mania and depression in bipolar patients, and deterioration in borderline personality disorder patients. A principled framework is proposed for mHealth monitoring of psychiatric patients, based on measurable changes in behaviour, represented in physical activity time series, collected via mobile and wearable devices. The framework defines methods for direct computational analysis of symptoms in disorganisation and psychomotor dimensions, as well as measures for indirect assessment of mood, using patterns of physical activity, sleep and circadian rhythms. The approach of computational behaviour analysis, proposed in this thesis, has the potential for early identification of clinical deterioration in ambulatory patients, and allows for the specification of distinct and measurable behavioural phenotypes, thus enabling better understanding and treatment of mental disorders.


Notes on a New Philosophy of Empirical Science

arXiv.org Machine Learning

This book presents a methodology and philosophy of empirical science based on large scale lossless data compression. In this view a theory is scientific if it can be used to build a data compression program, and it is valuable if it can compress a standard benchmark database to a small size, taking into account the length of the compressor itself. This methodology therefore includes an Occam principle as well as a solution to the problem of demarcation. Because of the fundamental difficulty of lossless compression, this type of research must be empirical in nature: compression can only be achieved by discovering and characterizing empirical regularities in the data. Because of this, the philosophy provides a way to reformulate fields such as computer vision and computational linguistics as empirical sciences: the former by attempting to compress databases of natural images, the latter by attempting to compress large text databases. The book argues that the rigor and objectivity of the compression principle should set the stage for systematic progress in these fields. The argument is especially strong in the context of computer vision, which is plagued by chronic problems of evaluation. The book also considers the field of machine learning. Here the traditional approach requires that the models proposed to solve learning problems be extremely simple, in order to avoid overfitting. However, the world may contain intrinsically complex phenomena, which would require complex models to understand. The compression philosophy can justify complex models because of the large quantity of data being modeled (if the target database is 100 Gb, it is easy to justify a 10 Mb model). The complex models and abstractions learned on the basis of the raw data (images, language, etc) can then be reused to solve any specific learning problem, such as face recognition or machine translation.