In machine learning, you may often wish to build predictors that allows to classify things into categories based on some set of associated values. For example, it is possible to provide a diagnosis to a patient based on data from previous patients. Many algorithms have been developed for automated classification, and common ones include random forests, support vector machines, Naïve Bayes classifiers, and many types of neural networks. To get a feel for how classification works, we take a simple example of a classification algorithm – k-Nearest Neighbours (kNN) – and build it from scratch in Python 2. You can use a mostly imperative style of coding, rather than a declarative/functional one with lambda functions and list comprehensions to keep things simple if you are starting with Python. Here, we will provide an introduction to the latter approach.

Probabilistic reasoning systems combine different probabilistic rules and probabilistic facts to arrive at the desired probability values of consequences. In this paper we describe the MESA-algorithm (Maximum Entropy by Simulated Annealing) that derives a joint distribution of variables or propositions. It takes into account the reliability of probability values and can resolve conflicts between contradictory statements. The joint distribution is represented in terms of marginal distributions and therefore allows to process large inference networks and to determine desired probability values with high precision. The procedure derives a maximum entropy distribution subject to the given constraints. It can be applied to inference networks of arbitrary topology and may be extended into a number of directions.

Herbrich, Ralf, Graepel, Thore

We present a bound on the generalisation error of linear classifiers in terms of a refined margin quantity on the training set. The result is obtained in a PAC-Bayesian framework and is based on geometrical arguments in the space of linear classifiers. The new bound constitutes an exponential improvement of the so far tightest margin bound by Shawe-Taylor et al. [8] and scales logarithmically in the inverse margin. Even in the case of less training examples than input dimensions sufficiently large margins lead to nontrivial bound values and - for maximum margins - to a vanishing complexity term.Furthermore, the classical margin is too coarse a measure for the essential quantity that controls the generalisation error: the volume ratio between the whole hypothesis space and the subset of consistent hypotheses. The practical relevance of the result lies in the fact that the well-known support vector machine is optimal w.r.t. the new bound only if the feature vectors are all of the same length. As a consequence we recommend to use SVMs on normalised feature vectors only - a recommendation that is well supported by our numerical experiments on two benchmark data sets. 1 Introduction Linear classifiers are exceedingly popular in the machine learning community due to their straightforward applicability and high flexibility which has recently been boosted by the so-called kernel methods [13]. A natural and popular framework for the theoretical analysis of classifiers is the PAC (probably approximately correct) framework[11] which is closely related to Vapnik's work on the generalisation error [12]. For binary classifiers it turned out that the growth function is an appropriate measureof "complexity" and can tightly be upper bounded by the VC (Vapnik-Chervonenkis) dimension [14].

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Ambrogioni, Luca, Guclu, Umut, Gucluturk, Yagmur, van Gerven, Marcel

Particle-based variational inference offers a flexible way of approximating complex posterior distributions with a set of particles. In this paper we introduce a new particle-based variational inference method based on the theory of semi-discrete optimal transport. Instead of minimizing the KL divergence between the posterior and the variational approximation, we minimize a semi-discrete optimal transport divergence. The solution of the resulting optimal transport problem provides both a particle approximation and a set of optimal transportation densities that map each particle to a segment of the posterior distribution. We approximate these transportation densities by minimizing the KL divergence between a truncated distribution and the optimal transport solution. The resulting algorithm can be interpreted as a form of ensemble variational inference where each particle is associated with a local variational approximation.