Kernel Embeddings of Latent Tree Graphical Models

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

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Le Song, Eric Xing, Ankur Parikh


Latent tree graphical models are natural tools for expressing long range and hierarchical dependencies among many variables which are common in computer vision, bioinformatics and natural language processing problems. However, existing models are largely restricted to discrete and Gaussian variables due to computational constraints; furthermore, algorithms for estimating the latent tree structure and learning the model parameters are largely restricted to heuristic local search. We present a method based on kernel embeddings of distributions for latent tree graphical models with continuous and non-Gaussian variables. Our method can recover the latent tree structures with provable guarantees and perform local-minimum free parameter learning and efficient inference. Experiments on simulated and real data show the advantage of our proposed approach.