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This paper aims to introduce an adaptive preference elicitation method for interactive decision support in sequential decision problems. The Decision Maker's preferences are assumed to be representable by an additive utility, initially unknown or imperfectly known. We first study the determination of possibly optimal policies when admissible utilities are imprecisely defined by some linear constraints derived from observed preferences. Then, we introduce a new approach interleaving elicitation of utilities and backward induction to incrementally determine an optimal or near-optimal policy. We propose an interactive algorithm with performance guarantees and describe numerical experiments demonstrating the practical efficiency of our approach.

The decentralized partially observable Markov decision process (Dec-POMDP) is a powerful model for representing multi-agent problems with decentralized behavior. Unfortunately, current Dec-POMDP solution methods cannot solve problems with continuous observations, which are common in many real-world domains. To that end, we present a framework for representing and generating Dec-POMDP policies that explicitly include continuous observations. We apply our algorithm to a novel tagging problem and an extended version of a common benchmark, where it generates policies that meet or exceed the values of equivalent discretized domains without the need for finding an adequate discretization.

We study a dynamic social choice problem in which an alternative is chosen at each round according to the reported valuations of a set of agents. In the interests of obtaining a solution that is both efficient and fair, we aim to maximize the long-term Nash social welfare, which is the product of all agents' utilities. We present and analyze two greedy algorithms for this problem, including the classic Proportional Fair (PF) algorithm. We analyze several versions of the algorithms and how they relate, and provide an axiomatization of PF. Finally, we evaluate the algorithms on data gathered from a computer systems application.

This paper deals with decision making under risk with the Weighted Expected Utility (WEU) model, which is a model generalizing expected utility and providing stronger descriptive possibilities. We address the problem of identifying, within a given set of lotteries, a (near-)optimal solution for a given decision maker consistent with the WEU theory. The WEU model is parameterized by two real-valued functions. We propose here a new incremental elicitation procedure to progressively reduce the imprecision about these functions until a robust decision can be made. We also give experimental results showing the practical efficiency of our method.

There is a vast body of theoretical research on lifted inference in probabilistic graphical models (PGMs). However, few demonstrations exist where lifting is applied in conjunction with top of the line applied algorithms. We pursue the applicability of lifted inference for computer vision (CV), with the insight that a globally optimal (MAP) labeling will likely have the same label for two symmetric pixels. The success of our approach lies in efficiently handling a distinct unary potential on every node (pixel), typical of CV applications. This allows us to lift the large class of algorithms that model a CV problem via PGM inference. We propose a generic template for coarse-to-fine (C2F) inference in CV, which progressively refines an initial coarsely lifted PGM for varying quality-time trade-offs. We demonstrate the performance of C2F inference by developing lifted versions of two near state-of-the-art CV algorithms for stereo vision and interactive image segmentation. We find that, against flat algorithms, the lifted versions have a much superior anytime performance, without any loss in final solution quality.

Gaussian Processes (GPs) are powerful tools for machine learning which have been applied to both classification and regression. The mixture models of GPs were later proposed to further improve GPs for data modeling. However, these models are formulated for regression problems. In this work, we propose a new Mixture of Gaussian Processes for Classification (MGPC). Instead of the Gaussian likelihood for regression, MGPC employs the logistic function as likelihood to obtain the class probabilities, which is suitable for classification problems. The posterior distribution of latent variables is approximated through variational inference. The hyperparameters are optimized through the variational EM method and a greedy algorithm. Experiments are performed on multiple real-world datasets which show improvements over five widely used methods on predictive performance. The results also indicate that for classification MGPC is significantly better than the regression model with mixtures of GPs, different from the existing consensus that their single model counterparts are comparable.

Weighted model counting and integration (WMC/WMI) are natural problems to which we can reduce many probabilistic inference tasks, e.g., in Bayesian networks, Markov networks, and probabilistic programs. Typically, we are given a first-order formula, where each satisfying assignment is associated with a weight---e.g., a probability of occurrence---and our goal is to compute the total weight of the formula. In this paper, we target exact inference techniques for WMI that leverage the power of satisfiability modulo theories (SMT) solvers to decompose a first-order formula in linear real arithmetic into a set of hyperrectangular regions whose weight is easy to compute. We demonstrate the challenges of hyperrectangular decomposition and present a novel technique that utilizes orthogonal transformations to transform formulas in order to enable efficient inference. Our evaluation demonstrates our technique's ability to improve the time required to achieve exact probability bounds.

We address the problem of scaling up local-search or sampling-based inference in Markov logic networks (MLNs) that have large shared sub-structures but no (or few) tied weights. Such untied MLNs are ubiquitous in practical applications. However, they have very few symmetries, and as a result lifted inference algorithms--the dominant approach for scaling up inference--perform poorly on them. The key idea in our approach is to reduce the hard, time-consuming sub-task in sampling algorithms, computing the sum of weights of features that satisfy a full assignment, to the problem of computing a set of partition functions of graphical models, each defined over the logical variables in a first-order formula. The importance of this reduction is that when the treewidth of all the graphical models is small, it yields an order of magnitude speedup. When the treewidth is large, we propose an over-symmetric approximation and experimentally demonstrate that it is both fast and accurate.

We consider the problem of computing r-th order statistics, namely finding an assignment having rank r in a probabilistic graphical model. We show that the problem is NP-hard even when the graphical model has no edges (zero-treewidth models) via a reduction from the partition problem. We use this reduction, specifically a pseudo-polynomial time algorithm for number partitioning to yield a pseudo-polynomial time approximation algorithm for solving the r-th order statistics problem in zero- treewidth models. We then extend this algorithm to arbitrary graphical models by generalizing it to tree decompositions, and demonstrate via experimental evaluation on various datasets that our proposed algorithm is more accurate than sampling algorithms.

We consider the estimation of Dirichlet Process Mixture Models (DPMMs) in distributed environments, where data are distributed across multiple computing nodes. A key advantage of Bayesian nonparametric models such as DPMMs is that they allow new components to be introduced on the fly as needed. This, however, posts an important challenge to distributed estimation -- how to handle new components efficiently and consistently. To tackle this problem, we propose a new estimation method, which allows new components to be created locally in individual computing nodes. Components corresponding to the same cluster will be identified and merged via a probabilistic consolidation scheme. In this way, we can maintain the consistency of estimation with very low communication cost. Experiments on large real-world data sets show that the proposed method can achieve high scalability in distributed and asynchronous environments without compromising the mixing performance.

Many network optimization problems can be formulated as stochastic network design problems in which edges are present or absent stochastically. Furthermore, protective actions can guarantee that edges will remain present. We consider the problem of finding the optimal protection strategy under a budget limit in order to maximize some connectivity measurements of the network. Previous approaches rely on the assumption that edges are independent. In this paper, we consider a more realistic setting where multiple edges are not independent due to natural disasters or regional events that make the states of multiple edges stochastically correlated. We use Markov Random Fields to model the correlation and define a new stochastic network design framework. We provide a novel algorithm based on Sample Average Approximation (SAA) coupled with a Gibbs or XOR sampler. The experimental results on real road network data show that the policies produced by SAA with the XOR sampler have higher quality and lower variance compared to SAA with Gibbs sampler.

The goal of price optimization is to maximize total revenue by adjusting the prices of products, on the basis of predicted sales numbers that are functions of pricing strategies. Recent advances in demand modeling using machine learning raise a new challenge in price optimization, i.e., how to manage statistical errors in estimation. In this paper, we show that uncertainty in recently-proposed prescriptive price optimization frameworks can be represented by a matrix normal distribution. For this particular uncertainty, we propose novel robust quadratic programming algorithms for conservative lower-bound maximization. We offer an asymptotic probabilistic guarantee of conservativeness of our formulation. Our experiments on both artificial and actual price data show that our robust price optimization allows users to determine best risk-return trade-offs and to explore safe, profitable price strategies.

This paper presents a unified grammatical framework capable of reconstructing a variety of scene types (e.g., urban, campus, county etc.) from a single input image. The key idea of our approach is to study a novel commonsense reasoning framework that mainly exploits two types of prior knowledges: (i) prior distributions over a single dimension of objects, e.g., that the length of a sedan is about 4.5 meters; (ii) pair-wise relationships between the dimensions of scene entities, e.g., that the length of a sedan is shorter than a bus. These unary or relative geometric knowledge, once extracted, are fairly stable across different types of natural scenes, and are informative for enhancing the understanding of various scenes in both 2D images and 3D world. Methodologically, we propose to construct a hierarchical graph representation as a unified representation of the input image and related geometric knowledge. We formulate these objectives with a unified probabilistic formula and develop a data-driven Monte Carlo method to infer the optimal solution with both bottom-to-up and top-down computations. Results with comparisons on public datasets showed that our method clearly outperforms the alternative methods.

Hyper graph matching problems have drawn attention recently due to their ability to embed higher order relations between nodes. In this paper, we formulate hyper graph matching problems as constrained MAP inference problems in graphical models. Whereas previous discrete approaches introduce several global correspondence vectors, we introduce only one global correspondence vector, but several local correspondence vectors. This allows us to decompose the problem into a (linear) bipartite matching problem and several belief propagation sub-problems. Bipartite matching can be solved by traditional approaches, while the belief propagation sub-problem is further decomposed as two sub-problems with optimal substructure. Then a newly proposed dynamic programming procedure is used to solve the belief propagation sub-problem. Experiments show that the proposed methods outperform state-of-the-art techniques for hyper graph matching.

Existing works on image emotion recognition mainly assigned the dominant emotion category or average dimension values to an image based on the assumption that viewers can reach a consensus on the emotion of images. However, the image emotions perceived by viewers are subjective by nature and highly related to the personal and situational factors. On the other hand, image emotions can be conveyed by different features, such as semantics and aesthetics. In this paper, we propose a novel machine learning approach that formulates the categorical image emotions as a discrete probability distribution (DPD). To associate emotions with the extracted visual features, we present a weighted multi-modal shared sparse leaning to learn the combination coefficients, with which the DPD of an unseen image can be predicted by linearly integrating the DPDs of the training images. The representation abilities of different modalities are jointly explored and the optimal weight of each modality is automatically learned. Extensive experiments on three datasets verify the superiority of the proposed method, as compared to the state-of-the-art.

In reasoning under uncertainty in AI, there are (at least) two useful and different ways of understanding beliefs: the first is as absolute belief or degree of belief in propositions and the second is as belief update or measure of change in belief. Pignistic and plausibility transformations are two well-known probability transformations that map belief functions to probability functions in the Dempster-Shafer theory of evidence. In this paper, we establish the link between pignistic and plausibility transformations by devising a belief-update framework for belief functions where plausibility transformation works on belief update while pignistic transformation operates on absolute belief. In this framework, we define a new belief-update operator connecting the two transformations, and interpret the framework in a belief-function model of parametric statistical inference. As a metaphor, these two transformations projecting the belief-update framework for belief functions to that for probabilities are likened to the fire projecting reality into shadows on the wall in Plato's cave.