Ensembles of randomized decision trees, usually referred to as random forests, are widely used for classification and regression tasks in machine learning and statistics. Random forests achieve competitive predictive performance and are computationally efficient to train and test, making them excellent candidates for real-world prediction tasks. The most popular random forest variants (such as Breiman's random forest and extremely randomized trees) operate on batches of training data. Online methods are now in greater demand. Existing online random forests, however, require more training data than their batch counterpart to achieve comparable predictive performance. In this work, we use Mondrian processes (Roy and Teh, 2009) to construct ensembles of random decision trees we call Mondrian forests. Mondrian forests can be grown in an incremental/online fashion and remarkably, the distribution of online Mondrian forests is the same as that of batch Mondrian forests. Mondrian forests achieve competitive predictive performance comparable with existing online random forests and periodically re-trained batch random forests, while being more than an order of magnitude faster, thus representing a better computation vs accuracy tradeoff.

* Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27 (NIPS), pages 3140-3148, 2014
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We develop a method for user-controllable semantic image inpainting: Given an arbitrary set of observed pixels, the unobserved pixels can be imputed in a user-controllable range of possibilities, each of which is semantically coherent and locally consistent with the observed pixels. We achieve this using a deep generative model bringing together: an encoder which can encode an arbitrary set of observed pixels, latent variables which are trained to represent disentangled factors of variations, and a bidirectional PixelCNN model. We experimentally demonstrate that our method can generate plausible inpainting results matching the user-specified semantics, but is still coherent with observed pixels. We justify our choices of architecture and training regime through more experiments.

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Automating statistical modelling is a challenging problem in artificial intelligence. The Automatic Statistician takes a first step in this direction, by employing a kernel search algorithm with Gaussian Processes (GP) to provide interpretable statistical models for regression problems. However this does not scale due to its $O(N^3)$ running time for the model selection. We propose Scalable Kernel Composition (SKC), a scalable kernel search algorithm that extends the Automatic Statistician to bigger data sets. In doing so, we derive a cheap upper bound on the GP marginal likelihood that sandwiches the marginal likelihood with the variational lower bound . We show that the upper bound is significantly tighter than the lower bound and thus useful for model selection.

* AISTATS 2018 (oral)
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This report is concerned with the Mondrian process and its applications in machine learning. The Mondrian process is a guillotine-partition-valued stochastic process that possesses an elegant self-consistency property. The first part of the report uses simple concepts from applied probability to define the Mondrian process and explore its properties. The Mondrian process has been used as the main building block of a clever online random forest classification algorithm that turns out to be equivalent to its batch counterpart. We outline a slight adaptation of this algorithm to regression, as the remainder of the report uses regression as a case study of how Mondrian processes can be utilized in machine learning. In particular, the Mondrian process will be used to construct a fast approximation to the computationally expensive kernel ridge regression problem with a Laplace kernel. The complexity of random guillotine partitions generated by a Mondrian process and hence the complexity of the resulting regression models is controlled by a lifetime hyperparameter. It turns out that these models can be efficiently trained and evaluated for all lifetimes in a given range at once, without needing to retrain them from scratch for each lifetime value. This leads to an efficient procedure for determining the right model complexity for a dataset at hand. The limitation of having a single lifetime hyperparameter will motivate the final Mondrian grid model, in which each input dimension is endowed with its own lifetime parameter. In this model we preserve the property that its hyperparameters can be tweaked without needing to retrain the modified model from scratch.

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A popular approach for large scale data annotation tasks is crowdsourcing, wherein each data point is labeled by multiple noisy annotators. We consider the problem of inferring ground truth from noisy ordinal labels obtained from multiple annotators of varying and unknown expertise levels. Annotation models for ordinal data have been proposed mostly as extensions of their binary/categorical counterparts and have received little attention in the crowdsourcing literature. We propose a new model for crowdsourced ordinal data that accounts for instance difficulty as well as annotator expertise, and derive a variational Bayesian inference algorithm for parameter estimation. We analyze the ordinal extensions of several state-of-the-art annotator models for binary/categorical labels and evaluate the performance of all the models on two real world datasets containing ordinal query-URL relevance scores, collected through Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Our results indicate that the proposed model performs better or as well as existing state-of-the-art methods and is more resistant to `spammy' annotators (i.e., annotators who assign labels randomly without actually looking at the instance) than popular baselines such as mean, median, and majority vote which do not account for annotator expertise.

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We present a novel inference algorithm for arbitrary, binary, undirected graphs. Unlike loopy belief propagation, which iterates fixed point equations, we directly descend on the Bethe free energy. The algorithm consists of two phases, first we update the pairwise probabilities, given the marginal probabilities at each unit,using an analytic expression. Next, we update the marginal probabilities, given the pairwise probabilities by following the negative gradient of the Bethe free energy. Both steps are guaranteed to decrease the Bethe free energy, and since it is lower bounded, the algorithm is guaranteed to converge to a local minimum. We also show that the Bethe free energy is equal to the TAP free energy up to second order in the weights. In experiments we confirm that when belief propagation converges it usually finds identical solutions as our belief optimization method. However, in cases where belief propagation fails to converge, belief optimization continues to converge to reasonable beliefs. The stable nature of belief optimization makes it ideally suited for learning graphical models from data.

* Appears in Proceedings of the Seventeenth Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI2001)
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We develop a Bayesian nonparametric extension of the popular Plackett-Luce choice model that can handle an infinite number of choice items. Our framework is based on the theory of random atomic measures, with the prior specified by a gamma process. We derive a posterior characterization and a simple and effective Gibbs sampler for posterior simulation. We develop a time-varying extension of our model, and apply it to the New York Times lists of weekly bestselling books.

* NIPS - Neural Information Processing Systems (2012)
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In spite of their superior performance, neural probabilistic language models (NPLMs) remain far less widely used than n-gram models due to their notoriously long training times, which are measured in weeks even for moderately-sized datasets. Training NPLMs is computationally expensive because they are explicitly normalized, which leads to having to consider all words in the vocabulary when computing the log-likelihood gradients. We propose a fast and simple algorithm for training NPLMs based on noise-contrastive estimation, a newly introduced procedure for estimating unnormalized continuous distributions. We investigate the behaviour of the algorithm on the Penn Treebank corpus and show that it reduces the training times by more than an order of magnitude without affecting the quality of the resulting models. The algorithm is also more efficient and much more stable than importance sampling because it requires far fewer noise samples to perform well. We demonstrate the scalability of the proposed approach by training several neural language models on a 47M-word corpus with a 80K-word vocabulary, obtaining state-of-the-art results on the Microsoft Research Sentence Completion Challenge dataset.

* In Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Machine Learning, pages 1751-1758, 2012
* Appears in Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML 2012)
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Markov jump processes and continuous time Bayesian networks are important classes of continuous time dynamical systems. In this paper, we tackle the problem of inferring unobserved paths in these models by introducing a fast auxiliary variable Gibbs sampler. Our approach is based on the idea of uniformization, and sets up a Markov chain over paths by sampling a finite set of virtual jump times and then running a standard hidden Markov model forward filtering-backward sampling algorithm over states at the set of extant and virtual jump times. We demonstrate significant computational benefits over a state-of-the-art Gibbs sampler on a number of continuous time Bayesian networks.

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User preferences for items can be inferred from either explicit feedback, such as item ratings, or implicit feedback, such as rental histories. Research in collaborative filtering has concentrated on explicit feedback, resulting in the development of accurate and scalable models. However, since explicit feedback is often difficult to collect it is important to develop effective models that take advantage of the more widely available implicit feedback. We introduce a probabilistic approach to collaborative filtering with implicit feedback based on modelling the user's item selection process. In the interests of scalability, we restrict our attention to tree-structured distributions over items and develop a principled and efficient algorithm for learning item trees from data. We also identify a problem with a widely used protocol for evaluating implicit feedback models and propose a way of addressing it using a small quantity of explicit feedback data.

* 8 pages
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We introduce the Mondrian kernel, a fast random feature approximation to the Laplace kernel. It is suitable for both batch and online learning, and admits a fast kernel-width-selection procedure as the random features can be re-used efficiently for all kernel widths. The features are constructed by sampling trees via a Mondrian process [Roy and Teh, 2009], and we highlight the connection to Mondrian forests [Lakshminarayanan et al., 2014], where trees are also sampled via a Mondrian process, but fit independently. This link provides a new insight into the relationship between kernel methods and random forests.

* Accepted for presentation at the 32nd Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI 2016)
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In an effort to improve the performance of deep neural networks in data-scarce, non-i.i.d., or unsupervised settings, much recent research has been devoted to encoding invariance under symmetry transformations into neural network architectures. We treat the neural network input and output as random variables, and consider group invariance from the perspective of probabilistic symmetry. Drawing on tools from probability and statistics, we establish a link between functional and probabilistic symmetry, and obtain generative functional representations of joint and conditional probability distributions that are invariant or equivariant under the action of a compact group. Those representations completely characterize the structure of neural networks that can be used to model such distributions and yield a general program for constructing invariant stochastic or deterministic neural networks. We develop the details of the general program for exchangeable sequences and arrays, recovering a number of recent examples as special cases.

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Genetic sequence data are well described by hidden Markov models (HMMs) in which latent states correspond to clusters of similar mutation patterns. Theory from statistical genetics suggests that these HMMs are nonhomogeneous (their transition probabilities vary along the chromosome) and have large support for self transitions. We develop a new nonparametric model of genetic sequence data, based on the hierarchical Dirichlet process, which supports these self transitions and nonhomogeneity. Our model provides a parameterization of the genetic process that is more parsimonious than other more general nonparametric models which have previously been applied to population genetics. We provide truncation-free MCMC inference for our model using a new auxiliary sampling scheme for Bayesian nonparametric HMMs. In a series of experiments on male X chromosome data from the Thousand Genomes Project and also on data simulated from a population bottleneck we show the benefits of our model over the popular finite model fastPHASE, which can itself be seen as a parametric truncation of our model. We find that the number of HMM states found by our model is correlated with the time to the most recent common ancestor in population bottlenecks. This work demonstrates the flexibility of Bayesian nonparametrics applied to large and complex genetic data.

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Some high-dimensional data.sets can be modelled by assuming that there are many different linear constraints, each of which is Frequently Approximately Satisfied (FAS) by the data. The probability of a data vector under the model is then proportional to the product of the probabilities of its constraint violations. We describe three methods of learning products of constraints using a heavy-tailed probability distribution for the violations.

* Appears in Proceedings of the Seventeenth Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI2001)
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We propose a novel class of network models for temporal dyadic interaction data. Our goal is to capture a number of important features often observed in social interactions: sparsity, degree heterogeneity, community structure and reciprocity. We propose a family of models based on self-exciting Hawkes point processes in which events depend on the history of the process. The key component is the conditional intensity function of the Hawkes Process, which captures the fact that interactions may arise as a response to past interactions (reciprocity), or due to shared interests between individuals (community structure). In order to capture the sparsity and degree heterogeneity, the base (non time dependent) part of the intensity function builds on compound random measures following Todeschini et al. (2016). We conduct experiments on a variety of real-world temporal interaction data and show that the proposed model outperforms many competing approaches for link prediction, and leads to interpretable parameters.

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Discovering the causal structure among a set of variables is a fundamental problem in many areas of science. In this paper, we propose Kernel Conditional Deviance for Causal Inference (KCDC) a fully nonparametric causal discovery method based on purely observational data. From a novel interpretation of the notion of asymmetry between cause and effect, we derive a corresponding asymmetry measure using the framework of reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces. Based on this, we propose three decision rules for causal discovery. We demonstrate the wide applicability of our method across a range of diverse synthetic datasets. Furthermore, we test our method on real-world time series data and the real-world benchmark dataset Tubingen Cause-Effect Pairs where we outperform existing state-of-the-art methods.

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Despite the fundamental nature of the inhomogeneous Poisson process in the theory and application of stochastic processes, and its attractive generalizations (e.g. Cox process), few tractable nonparametric modeling approaches of intensity functions exist, especially when observed points lie in a high-dimensional space. In this paper we develop a new, computationally tractable Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Space (RKHS) formulation for the inhomogeneous Poisson process. We model the square root of the intensity as an RKHS function. Whereas RKHS models used in supervised learning rely on the so-called representer theorem, the form of the inhomogeneous Poisson process likelihood means that the representer theorem does not apply. However, we prove that the representer theorem does hold in an appropriately transformed RKHS, guaranteeing that the optimization of the penalized likelihood can be cast as a tractable finite-dimensional problem. The resulting approach is simple to implement, and readily scales to high dimensions and large-scale datasets.

* AISTATS 2017
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We introduce a semi-parametric Bayesian model for survival analysis. The model is centred on a parametric baseline hazard, and uses a Gaussian process to model variations away from it nonparametrically, as well as dependence on covariates. As opposed to many other methods in survival analysis, our framework does not impose unnecessary constraints in the hazard rate or in the survival function. Furthermore, our model handles left, right and interval censoring mechanisms common in survival analysis. We propose a MCMC algorithm to perform inference and an approximation scheme based on random Fourier features to make computations faster. We report experimental results on synthetic and real data, showing that our model performs better than competing models such as Cox proportional hazards, ANOVA-DDP and random survival forests.

* To appear in NIPS 2016
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We propose a Bayesian nonparametric prior for time-varying networks. To each node of the network is associated a positive parameter, modeling the sociability of that node. Sociabilities are assumed to evolve over time, and are modeled via a dynamic point process model. The model is able to (a) capture smooth evolution of the interaction between nodes, allowing edges to appear/disappear over time (b) capture long term evolution of the sociabilities of the nodes (c) and yield sparse graphs, where the number of edges grows subquadratically with the number of nodes. The evolution of the sociabilities is described by a tractable time-varying gamma process. We provide some theoretical insights into the model and apply it to three real world datasets.

* 10 pages, 8 figures
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Performing exact posterior inference in complex generative models is often difficult or impossible due to an expensive to evaluate or intractable likelihood function. Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) is an inference framework that constructs an approximation to the true likelihood based on the similarity between the observed and simulated data as measured by a predefined set of summary statistics. Although the choice of appropriate problem-specific summary statistics crucially influences the quality of the likelihood approximation and hence also the quality of the posterior sample in ABC, there are only few principled general-purpose approaches to the selection or construction of such summary statistics. In this paper, we develop a novel framework for this task using kernel-based distribution regression. We model the functional relationship between data distributions and the optimal choice (with respect to a loss function) of summary statistics using kernel-based distribution regression. We show that our approach can be implemented in a computationally and statistically efficient way using the random Fourier features framework for large-scale kernel learning. In addition to that, our framework shows superior performance when compared to related methods on toy and real-world problems.

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