Theses Doctoral

Deep Probabilistic Graphical Modeling

Dieng, Adji Bousso

Probabilistic graphical modeling (PGM) provides a framework for formulating an interpretable generative process of data and expressing uncertainty about unknowns. This makes PGM very useful for understanding phenomena underlying data and for decision making. PGM has seen great success in domains where interpretable inferences are key, e.g. marketing, medicine, neuroscience, and social science. However, PGM tends to lack flexibility, which has hindered its use when it comes to modeling large scale high-dimensional complex data and performing tasks that require flexibility (e.g. in vision and language applications.)

Deep learning (DL) is another framework for modeling and learning from data that has seen great empirical success in recent years. DL is very powerful and offers great flexibility, but it lacks the interpretability and calibration of PGM.

This thesis develops deep probabilistic graphical modeling (DPGM). DPGM consists in leveraging DL to make PGM more flexible. DPGM brings about new methods for learning from data that exhibit the advantages of both PGM and DL.

We use DL within PGM to build flexible models endowed with an interpretable latent structure. One family of models we develop extends exponential family principal component analysis (EF-PCA) using neural networks to improve predictive performance while enforcing the interpretability of the latent factors. Another model class we introduce enables accounting for long-term dependencies when modeling sequential data, which is a challenge when using purely DL or PGM approaches. This model class for sequential data was successfully applied to language modeling, unsupervised document representation learning for sentiment analysis, conversation modeling, and patient representation learning for hospital readmission prediction. Finally, DPGM successfully solves several outstanding problems of probabilistic topic models.

Leveraging DL within PGM also brings about new algorithms for learning with complex data. For example, we develop entropy-regularized adversarial learning, a learning paradigm that deviates from the traditional maximum likelihood approach used in PGM. From the DL perspective, entropy-regularized adversarial learning provides a solution to the long-standing mode collapse problem of generative adversarial networks.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Blei, David Meir
Paisley, John W.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 1, 2020