Vector-Space Markov Random Fields via Exponential Families

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Wesley Tansey, Oscar Hernan Madrid Padilla, Arun Sai Suggala, Pradeep Ravikumar ;
Proceedings of the 32nd International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 37:684-692, 2015.

Abstract

We present Vector-Space Markov Random Fields (VS-MRFs), a novel class of undirected graphical models where each variable can belong to an arbitrary vector space. VS-MRFs generalize a recent line of work on scalar-valued, uni-parameter exponential family and mixed graphical models, thereby greatly broadening the class of exponential families available (e.g., allowing multinomial and Dirichlet distributions). Specifically, VS-MRFs are the joint graphical model distributions where the node-conditional distributions belong to generic exponential families with general vector space domains. We also present a sparsistent M-estimator for learning our class of MRFs that recovers the correct set of edges with high probability. We validate our approach via a set of synthetic data experiments as well as a real-world case study of over four million foods from the popular diet tracking app MyFitnessPal. Our results demonstrate that our algorithm performs well empirically and that VS-MRFs are capable of capturing and highlighting interesting structure in complex, real-world data. All code for our algorithm is open source and publicly available.

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