Robust Probabilistic Modeling with Bayesian Data Reweighting


Yixin Wang, Alp Kucukelbir, David M. Blei ;
Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 70:3646-3655, 2017.


Probabilistic models analyze data by relying on a set of assumptions. Data that exhibit deviations from these assumptions can undermine inference and prediction quality. Robust models offer protection against mismatch between a model’s assumptions and reality. We propose a way to systematically detect and mitigate mismatch of a large class of probabilistic models. The idea is to raise the likelihood of each observation to a weight and then to infer both the latent variables and the weights from data. Inferring the weights allows a model to identify observations that match its assumptions and down-weight others. This enables robust inference and improves predictive accuracy. We study four different forms of mismatch with reality, ranging from missing latent groups to structure misspecification. A Poisson factorization analysis of the Movielens 1M dataset shows the benefits of this approach in a practical scenario.

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