A Sufficient Statistics Construction of Bayesian Nonparametric Exponential Family Conjugate Models

10 Jan 2016  ·  Robert Finn, Brian Kulis ·

Conjugate pairs of distributions over infinite dimensional spaces are prominent in statistical learning theory, particularly due to the widespread adoption of Bayesian nonparametric methodologies for a host of models and applications. Much of the existing literature in the learning community focuses on processes possessing some form of computationally tractable conjugacy as is the case for the beta and gamma processes (and, via normalization, the Dirichlet process). For these processes, proofs of conjugacy and requisite derivation of explicit computational formulae for posterior density parameters are idiosyncratic to the stochastic process in question. As such, Bayesian Nonparametric models are currently available for a limited number of conjugate pairs, e.g. the Dirichlet-multinomial and beta-Bernoulli process pairs. In each of these above cases the likelihood process belongs to the class of discrete exponential family distributions. The exclusion of continuous likelihood distributions from the known cases of Bayesian Nonparametric Conjugate models stands as a disparity in the researcher's toolbox. In this paper we first address the problem of obtaining a general construction of prior distributions over infinite dimensional spaces possessing distributional properties amenable to conjugacy. Second, we bridge the divide between the discrete and continuous likelihoods by illustrating a canonical construction for stochastic processes whose Levy measure densities are from positive exponential families, and then demonstrate that these processes in fact form the prior, likelihood, and posterior in a conjugate family. Our canonical construction subsumes known computational formulae for posterior density parameters in the cases where the likelihood is from a discrete distribution belonging to an exponential family.

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