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A birth-death process for feature allocation



We propose a Bayesian nonparametric prior over feature allocations for sequential data, the birthdeath feature allocation process (BDFP). The BDFP models the evolution of the feature allocation of a set of N objects across a covariate (e.g. time) by creating and deleting features. A BDFP is exchangeable, projective, stationary and reversible, and its equilibrium distribution is given by the Indian buffet process (IBP). We show that the Beta process on an extended space is the de Finetti mixing distribution underlying the BDFP. Finally, we present the finite approximation of the BDFP, the Beta Event Process (BEP), that permits simplified inference. The utility of the BDFP as a prior is demonstrated on real world dynamic genomics and social network data.


Konstantina Palla, David Knowles, Zoubin Ghahramani


ICML 2017

Full Paper

‘A birth-death process for feature allocation’ (PDF)

Uber AI

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Zoubin Ghahramani is Chief Scientist of Uber and a world leader in the field of machine learning, significantly advancing the state-of-the-art in algorithms that can learn from data. He is known in particular for fundamental contributions to probabilistic modeling and Bayesian approaches to machine learning systems and AI. Zoubin also maintains his roles as Professor of Information Engineering at the University of Cambridge and Deputy Director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. He was one of the founding directors of the Alan Turing Institute (the UK's national institute for Data Science and AI), and is a Fellow of St John's College Cambridge and of the Royal Society.