Flexible Martingale Priors for Deep Hierarchies

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Jacob Steinhardt, Zoubin Ghahramani ;
Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 22:1108-1116, 2012.

Abstract

When building priors over trees for Bayesian hierarchical models, there is a tension between maintaining desirable theoretical properties such as infinite exchangeability and important practical properties such as the ability to increase the depth of the tree to accommodate new data. We resolve this tension by presenting a family of infinitely exchangeable priors over discrete tree structures that allows the depth of the tree to grow with the data, and then showing that our family contains all hierarchical models with certain mild symmetry properties. We also show that deep hierarchical models are in general intimately tied to a process called a martingale, and use Doob’s martingale convergence theorem to demonstrate some unexpected properties of deep hierarchies.

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