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A review of machine learning applications in wildfire science and management

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence has been applied in wildfire science and management since the 1990s, with early applications including neural networks and expert systems. Since then the field has rapidly progressed congruently with the wide adoption of machine learning (ML) in the environmental sciences. Here, we present a scoping review of ML in wildfire science and management. Our objective is to improve awareness of ML among wildfire scientists and managers, as well as illustrate the challenging range of problems in wildfire science available to data scientists. We first present an overview of popular ML approaches used in wildfire science to date, and then review their use in wildfire science within six problem domains: 1) fuels characterization, fire detection, and mapping; 2) fire weather and climate change; 3) fire occurrence, susceptibility, and risk; 4) fire behavior prediction; 5) fire effects; and 6) fire management. We also discuss the advantages and limitations of various ML approaches and identify opportunities for future advances in wildfire science and management within a data science context. We identified 298 relevant publications, where the most frequently used ML methods included random forests, MaxEnt, artificial neural networks, decision trees, support vector machines, and genetic algorithms. There exists opportunities to apply more current ML methods (e.g., deep learning and agent based learning) in wildfire science. However, despite the ability of ML models to learn on their own, expertise in wildfire science is necessary to ensure realistic modelling of fire processes across multiple scales, while the complexity of some ML methods requires sophisticated knowledge for their application. Finally, we stress that the wildfire research and management community plays an active role in providing relevant, high quality data for use by practitioners of ML methods.



Clustering Methods for Collaborative Filtering

AAAI Conferences

We believe that collaborative filtering is well described by a probabilistic model in which people and the items they view or buy are each divided into (unknown) clusters and there are link probabilities between these clusters. EM is an obvious method for estimating these models, but does not work because it cannot be efficiently constructed to recognize the constraint that a movie liked by two different people must be in the same movie class each time. K-means clustering is fast but ad hoc. Repeated clustering using K-means clustering or a "soft clustering" version of K-means may be useful, but usually does not improve accuracy. Clustering movies or people on other relevant attributes can help - and does help for the case of CD purchase data. Gibbs sampling works well and has the virtue of being easily extended to much more complex models, but is computationally expensive. We are currently developing more efficient Gibbs sampling methods for collaborative filtering problems, extending our repeated clustering and Gibbs sampling code to incorporate multiple attributes, and applying them to more real data sets.


Bayesian Ensemble Learning

Neural Information Processing Systems

We develop a Bayesian "sum-of-trees" model, named BART, where each tree is constrained by a prior to be a weak learner. Fitting and inference are accomplished via an iterative backfitting MCMC algorithm. This model is motivated by ensemble methodsin general, and boosting algorithms in particular. Like boosting, each weak learner (i.e., each weak tree) contributes a small amount to the overall model. However, our procedure is defined by a statistical model: a prior and a likelihood, while boosting is defined by an algorithm. This model-based approach enables a full and accurate assessment of uncertainty in model predictions, while remaining highly competitive in terms of predictive accuracy.


Worst-Case Bounds for Gaussian Process Models

Neural Information Processing Systems

Dean P. Foster University of Pennsylvania We present a competitive analysis of some nonparametric Bayesian algorithms ina worst-case online learning setting, where no probabilistic assumptions about the generation of the data are made. We consider models which use a Gaussian process prior (over the space of all functions) andprovide bounds on the regret (under the log loss) for commonly usednon-parametric Bayesian algorithms -- including Gaussian regression and logistic regression -- which show how these algorithms can perform favorably under rather general conditions.