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Learning Hierarchical Generative Models

Date and Time
Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
CS Department Colloquium Series
David Blei
Building intelligent systems that are capable of extracting meaningful representations from high-dimensional data lies at the core of solving many Artificial Intelligence tasks, including visual object recognition, information retrieval, speech perception, and language understanding. My research aims to discover such representations by learning rich generative models which contain deep hierarchical structure and which support inferences at multiple levels.

In this talk, I will introduce a broad class of probabilistic generative models called Deep Boltzmann Machines (DBMs), and a new algorithm for learning these models that uses variational methods and Markov chain Monte Carlo. I will show that DBMs can learn useful hierarchical representations from large volumes of high-dimensional data, and that they can be successfully applied in many domains, including information retrieval, object recognition, and nonlinear dimensionality reduction. I will then describe a new class of more complex probabilistic graphical models that combine Deep Boltzmann Machines with structured hierarchical Bayesian models. I will show how these models can learn a deep hierarchical structure for sharing knowledge across hundreds of visual categories, which allows accurate learning of novel visual concepts from few examples.

Ruslan Salakhutdinov received his PhD in computer science from the University of Toronto in 2009, and he is now a postdoctoral associate at CSAIL and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. His research interests lie in machine learning, computational statistics, and large-scale optimization. He is the recipient of the NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship and Canada Graduate Scholarship.

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