Sparse Bayesian Multi-Task Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24 (NIPS 2011)

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Shengbo Guo, Onno Zoeter, Cédric Archambeau


We propose a new sparse Bayesian model for multi-task regression and classification. The model is able to capture correlations between tasks, or more specifically a low-rank approximation of the covariance matrix, while being sparse in the features. We introduce a general family of group sparsity inducing priors based on matrix-variate Gaussian scale mixtures. We show the amount of sparsity can be learnt from the data by combining an approximate inference approach with type II maximum likelihood estimation of the hyperparameters. Empirical evaluations on data sets from biology and vision demonstrate the applicability of the model, where on both regression and classification tasks it achieves competitive predictive performance compared to previously proposed methods.