Asymptotic Model Selection for Directed Networks with Hidden Variables Machine Learning

We extend the Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC), an asymptotic approximation for the marginal likelihood, to Bayesian networks with hidden variables. This approximation can be used to select models given large samples of data. The standard BIC as well as our extension punishes the complexity of a model according to the dimension of its parameters. We argue that the dimension of a Bayesian network with hidden variables is the rank of the Jacobian matrix of the transformation between the parameters of the network and the parameters of the observable variables. We compute the dimensions of several networks including the naive Bayes model with a hidden root node.

A New Perspective on Boosting in Linear Regression via Subgradient Optimization and Relatives Machine Learning

In this paper we analyze boosting algorithms in linear regression from a new perspective: that of modern first-order methods in convex optimization. We show that classic boosting algorithms in linear regression, namely the incremental forward stagewise algorithm (FS$_\varepsilon$) and least squares boosting (LS-Boost($\varepsilon$)), can be viewed as subgradient descent to minimize the loss function defined as the maximum absolute correlation between the features and residuals. We also propose a modification of FS$_\varepsilon$ that yields an algorithm for the Lasso, and that may be easily extended to an algorithm that computes the Lasso path for different values of the regularization parameter. Furthermore, we show that these new algorithms for the Lasso may also be interpreted as the same master algorithm (subgradient descent), applied to a regularized version of the maximum absolute correlation loss function. We derive novel, comprehensive computational guarantees for several boosting algorithms in linear regression (including LS-Boost($\varepsilon$) and FS$_\varepsilon$) by using techniques of modern first-order methods in convex optimization. Our computational guarantees inform us about the statistical properties of boosting algorithms. In particular they provide, for the first time, a precise theoretical description of the amount of data-fidelity and regularization imparted by running a boosting algorithm with a prespecified learning rate for a fixed but arbitrary number of iterations, for any dataset.

Learning Mixtures of DAG Models Machine Learning

We describe computationally efficient methods for learning mixtures in which each component is a directed acyclic graphical model (mixtures of DAGs or MDAGs). We argue that simple search-and-score algorithms are infeasible for a variety of problems, and introduce a feasible approach in which parameter and structure search is interleaved and expected data is treated as real data. Our approach can be viewed as a combination of (1) the Cheeseman--Stutz asymptotic approximation for model posterior probability and (2) the Expectation--Maximization algorithm. We evaluate our procedure for selecting among MDAGs on synthetic and real examples.

Learning Exponential Families in High-Dimensions: Strong Convexity and Sparsity Machine Learning

The versatility of exponential families, along with their attendant convexity properties, make them a popular and effective statistical model. A central issue is learning these models in high-dimensions, such as when there is some sparsity pattern of the optimal parameter. This work characterizes a certain strong convexity property of general exponential families, which allow their generalization ability to be quantified. In particular, we show how this property can be used to analyze generic exponential families under L_1 regularization.

An Experimental Comparison of Several Clustering and Initialization Methods Machine Learning

We examine methods for clustering in high dimensions. In the first part of the paper, we perform an experimental comparison between three batch clustering algorithms: the Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm, a winner take all version of the EM algorithm reminiscent of the K-means algorithm, and model-based hierarchical agglomerative clustering. We learn naive-Bayes models with a hidden root node, using high-dimensional discrete-variable data sets (both real and synthetic). We find that the EM algorithm significantly outperforms the other methods, and proceed to investigate the effect of various initialization schemes on the final solution produced by the EM algorithm. The initializations that we consider are (1) parameters sampled from an uninformative prior, (2) random perturbations of the marginal distribution of the data, and (3) the output of hierarchical agglomerative clustering. Although the methods are substantially different, they lead to learned models that are strikingly similar in quality.

Fast Learning from Sparse Data Machine Learning

We describe two techniques that significantly improve the running time of several standard machine-learning algorithms when data is sparse. The first technique is an algorithm that effeciently extracts one-way and two-way counts--either real or expected-- from discrete data. Extracting such counts is a fundamental step in learning algorithms for constructing a variety of models including decision trees, decision graphs, Bayesian networks, and naive-Bayes clustering models. The second technique is an algorithm that efficiently performs the E-step of the EM algorithm (i.e. inference) when applied to a naive-Bayes clustering model. Using real-world data sets, we demonstrate a dramatic decrease in running time for algorithms that incorporate these techniques.

Continuous Time Dynamic Topic Models Machine Learning

In this paper, we develop the continuous time dynamic topic model (cDTM). The cDTM is a dynamic topic model that uses Brownian motion to model the latent topics through a sequential collection of documents, where a "topic" is a pattern of word use that we expect to evolve over the course of the collection. We derive an efficient variational approximate inference algorithm that takes advantage of the sparsity of observations in text, a property that lets us easily handle many time points. In contrast to the cDTM, the original discrete-time dynamic topic model (dDTM) requires that time be discretized. Moreover, the complexity of variational inference for the dDTM grows quickly as time granularity increases, a drawback which limits fine-grained discretization. We demonstrate the cDTM on two news corpora, reporting both predictive perplexity and the novel task of time stamp prediction.

Parameter Priors for Directed Acyclic Graphical Models and the Characterization of Several Probability Distributions Machine Learning

We show that the only parameter prior for complete Gaussian DAG models that satisfies global parameter independence, complete model equivalence, and some weak regularity assumptions, is the normal-Wishart distribution. Our analysis is based on the following new characterization of the Wishart distribution: let W be an n x n, n >= 3, positive-definite symmetric matrix of random variables and f(W) be a pdf of W. Then, f(W) is a Wishart distribution if and only if W_{11}-W_{12}W_{22}^{-1}W_{12}' is independent of {W_{12}, W_{22}} for every block partitioning W_{11}, W_{12}, W_{12}', W_{22} of W. Similar characterizations of the normal and normal-Wishart distributions are provided as well. We also show how to construct a prior for every DAG model over X from the prior of a single regression model.

A Bayesian Approach to Learning Bayesian Networks with Local Structure Machine Learning

Recently several researchers have investigated techniques for using data to learn Bayesian networks containing compact representations for the conditional probability distributions (CPDs) stored at each node. The majority of this work has concentrated on using decision-tree representations for the CPDs. In addition, researchers typically apply non-Bayesian (or asymptotically Bayesian) scoring functions such as MDL to evaluate the goodness-of-fit of networks to the data. In this paper we investigate a Bayesian approach to learning Bayesian networks that contain the more general decision-graph representations of the CPDs. First, we describe how to evaluate the posterior probability that is, the Bayesian score of such a network, given a database of observed cases. Second, we describe various search spaces that can be used, in conjunction with a scoring function and a search procedure, to identify one or more high-scoring networks. Finally, we present an experimental evaluation of the search spaces, using a greedy algorithm and a Bayesian scoring function.

Efficient Approximations for the Marginal Likelihood of Incomplete Data Given a Bayesian Network Machine Learning

We discuss Bayesian methods for learning Bayesian networks when data sets are incomplete. In particular, we examine asymptotic approximations for the marginal likelihood of incomplete data given a Bayesian network. We consider the Laplace approximation and the less accurate but more efficient BIC/MDL approximation. We also consider approximations proposed by Draper (1993) and Cheeseman and Stutz (1995). These approximations are as efficient as BIC/MDL, but their accuracy has not been studied in any depth. We compare the accuracy of these approximations under the assumption that the Laplace approximation is the most accurate. In experiments using synthetic data generated from discrete naive-Bayes models having a hidden root node, we find that the CS measure is the most accurate.