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Bayesian Learning via Q-Exponential Process

Shuyi Li · Michael O'Connor · Shiwei Lan

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1515

Abstract: Regularization is one of the most fundamental topics in optimization, statistics and machine learning. To get sparsity in estimating a parameter $u\in\mathbb{R}^d$, an $\ell_q$ penalty term, $\Vert u\Vert_q$, is usually added to the objective function. What is the probabilistic distribution corresponding to such $\ell_q$ penalty? What is the \emph{correct} stochastic process corresponding to $\Vert u\Vert_q$ when we model functions $u\in L^q$? This is important for statistically modeling high-dimensional objects such as images, with penalty to preserve certainty properties, e.g. edges in the image.In this work, we generalize the $q$-exponential distribution (with density proportional to) $\exp{(- \frac{1}{2}|u|^q)}$ to a stochastic process named \emph{$Q$-exponential (Q-EP) process} that corresponds to the $L_q$ regularization of functions. The key step is to specify consistent multivariate $q$-exponential distributions by choosing from a large family of elliptic contour distributions. The work is closely related to Besov process which is usually defined in terms of series. Q-EP can be regarded as a definition of Besov process with explicit probabilistic formulation, direct control on the correlation strength, and tractable prediction formula. From the Bayesian perspective, Q-EP provides a flexible prior on functions with sharper penalty ($q<2$) than the commonly used Gaussian process (GP, $q=2$).We compare GP, Besov and Q-EP in modeling functional data, reconstructing images and solving inverse problems and demonstrate the advantage of our proposed methodology.

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