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SpikeAnts, a spiking neuron network modelling the emergence of organization in a complex system

Neural Information Processing Systems

Many complex systems, ranging from neural cell assemblies to insect societies, involve and rely on some division of labor. How to enforce such a division in a decentralized and distributed way, is tackled in this paper, using a spiking neuron network architecture. Specifically, a spatio-temporal model called SpikeAnts is shown to enforce the emergence of synchronized activities in an ant colony. Each ant is modelled from two spiking neurons; the ant colony is a sparsely connected spiking neuron network. Each ant makes its decision (among foraging, sleeping and self-grooming) from the competition between its two neurons, after the signals received from its neighbor ants. Interestingly, three types of temporal patterns emerge in the ant colony: asynchronous, synchronous, and synchronous periodic foraging activities - similar to the actual behavior of some living ant colonies. A phase diagram of the emergent activity patterns with respect to two control parameters, respectively accounting for ant sociability and receptivity, is presented and discussed.


Rescaling, thinning or complementing? On goodness-of-fit procedures for point process models and Generalized Linear Models

Neural Information Processing Systems

Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) are an increasingly popular framework for modeling neural spike trains. They have been linked to the theory of stochastic point processes and researchers have used this relation to assess goodness-of-fit using methods from point-process theory, e.g. the time-rescaling theorem. However, high neural firing rates or coarse discretization lead to a breakdown of the assumptions necessary for this connection. Here, we show how goodness-of-fit tests from point-process theory can still be applied to GLMs by constructing equivalent surrogate point processes out of time-series observations. Furthermore, two additional tests based on thinning and complementing point processes are introduced. They augment the instruments available for checking model adequacy of point processes as well as discretized models.


Random Projections for $k$-means Clustering

Neural Information Processing Systems

This paper discusses the topic of dimensionality reduction for $k$-means clustering. We prove that any set of $n$ points in $d$ dimensions (rows in a matrix $A \in \RR^{n \times d}$) can be projected into $t = \Omega(k / \eps^2)$ dimensions, for any $\eps \in (0,1/3)$, in $O(n d \lceil \eps^{-2} k/ \log(d) \rceil )$ time, such that with constant probability the optimal $k$-partition of the point set is preserved within a factor of $2+\eps$. The projection is done by post-multiplying $A$ with a $d \times t$ random matrix $R$ having entries $+1/\sqrt{t}$ or $-1/\sqrt{t}$ with equal probability. A numerical implementation of our technique and experiments on a large face images dataset verify the speed and the accuracy of our theoretical results.


Graph-Valued Regression

Neural Information Processing Systems

Undirected graphical models encode in a graph $G$ the dependency structure of a random vector $Y$. In many applications, it is of interest to model $Y$ given another random vector $X$ as input. We refer to the problem of estimating the graph $G(x)$ of $Y$ conditioned on $X=x$ as ``graph-valued regression''. In this paper, we propose a semiparametric method for estimating $G(x)$ that builds a tree on the $X$ space just as in CART (classification and regression trees), but at each leaf of the tree estimates a graph. We call the method ``Graph-optimized CART'', or Go-CART. We study the theoretical properties of Go-CART using dyadic partitioning trees, establishing oracle inequalities on risk minimization and tree partition consistency. We also demonstrate the application of Go-CART to a meteorological dataset, showing how graph-valued regression can provide a useful tool for analyzing complex data.


PAC-Bayesian Model Selection for Reinforcement Learning

Neural Information Processing Systems

This paper introduces the first set of PAC-Bayesian bounds for the batch reinforcement learning problem in finite state spaces. These bounds hold regardless of the correctness of the prior distribution. We demonstrate how such bounds can be used for model-selection in control problems where prior information is available either on the dynamics of the environment, or on the value of actions. Our empirical results confirm that PAC-Bayesian model-selection is able to leverage prior distributions when they are informative and, unlike standard Bayesian RL approaches, ignores them when they are misleading.


Identifying Dendritic Processing

Neural Information Processing Systems

In system identification both the input and the output of a system are available to an observer and an algorithm is sought to identify parameters of a hypothesized model of that system. Here we present a novel formal methodology for identifying dendritic processing in a neural circuit consisting of a linear dendritic processing filter in cascade with a spiking neuron model. The input to the circuit is an analog signal that belongs to the space of bandlimited functions. The output is a time sequence associated with the spike train. We derive an algorithm for identification of the dendritic processing filter and reconstruct its kernel with arbitrary precision.


Large-Scale Matrix Factorization with Missing Data under Additional Constraints

Neural Information Processing Systems

Matrix factorization in the presence of missing data is at the core of many computer vision problems such as structure from motion (SfM), non-rigid SfM and photometric stereo. We formulate the problem of matrix factorization with missing data as a low-rank semidefinite program (LRSDP) with the advantage that: $1)$ an efficient quasi-Newton implementation of the LRSDP enables us to solve large-scale factorization problems, and $2)$ additional constraints such as ortho-normality, required in orthographic SfM, can be directly incorporated in the new formulation. Our empirical evaluations suggest that, under the conditions of matrix completion theory, the proposed algorithm finds the optimal solution, and also requires fewer observations compared to the current state-of-the-art algorithms. We further demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm in solving the affine SfM problem, non-rigid SfM and photometric stereo problems.


Rates of convergence for the cluster tree

Neural Information Processing Systems

For a density f on R^d, a high-density cluster is any connected component of {x: f(x) >= c}, for some c > 0. The set of all high-density clusters form a hierarchy called the cluster tree of f. We present a procedure for estimating the cluster tree given samples from f. We give finite-sample convergence rates for our algorithm, as well as lower bounds on the sample complexity of this estimation problem.


Identifying Patients at Risk of Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events Using Symbolic Mismatch

Neural Information Processing Systems

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, resulting in 17 million deaths each year. Despite the availability of various treatment options, existing techniques based upon conventional medical knowledge often fail to identify patients who might have benefited from more aggressive therapy. In this paper, we describe and evaluate a novel unsupervised machine learning approach for cardiac risk stratification. The key idea of our approach is to avoid specialized medical knowledge, and assess patient risk using symbolic mismatch, a new metric to assess similarity in long-term time-series activity. We hypothesize that high risk patients can be identified using symbolic mismatch, as individuals in a population with unusual long-term physiological activity. We describe related approaches that build on these ideas to provide improved medical decision making for patients who have recently suffered coronary attacks. We first describe how to compute the symbolic mismatch between pairs of long term electrocardiographic (ECG) signals. This algorithm maps the original signals into a symbolic domain, and provides a quantitative assessment of the difference between these symbolic representations of the original signals. We then show how this measure can be used with each of a one-class SVM, a nearest neighbor classifier, and hierarchical clustering to improve risk stratification. We evaluated our methods on a population of 686 cardiac patients with available long-term electrocardiographic data. In a univariate analysis, all of the methods provided a statistically significant association with the occurrence of a major adverse cardiac event in the next 90 days. In a multivariate analysis that incorporated the most widely used clinical risk variables, the nearest neighbor and hierarchical clustering approaches were able to statistically significantly distinguish patients with a roughly two-fold risk of suffering a major adverse cardiac event in the next 90 days.


Stability Approach to Regularization Selection (StARS) for High Dimensional Graphical Models

Neural Information Processing Systems

A challenging problem in estimating high-dimensional graphical models is to choose the regularization parameter in a data-dependent way. The standard techniques include $K$-fold cross-validation ($K$-CV), Akaike information criterion (AIC), and Bayesian information criterion (BIC). Though these methods work well for low-dimensional problems, they are not suitable in high dimensional settings. In this paper, we present StARS: a new stability-based method for choosing the regularization parameter in high dimensional inference for undirected graphs. The method has a clear interpretation: we use the least amount of regularization that simultaneously makes a graph sparse and replicable under random sampling. This interpretation requires essentially no conditions. Under mild conditions, we show that StARS is partially sparsistent in terms of graph estimation: i.e. with high probability, all the true edges will be included in the selected model even when the graph size asymptotically increases with the sample size. Empirically, the performance of StARS is compared with the state-of-the-art model selection procedures, including $K$-CV, AIC, and BIC, on both synthetic data and a real microarray dataset. StARS outperforms all competing procedures.