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Cumulative Distribution Functions As The Foundation For Probabilistic Models

Chilinski, Pawel; (2022) Cumulative Distribution Functions As The Foundation For Probabilistic Models. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis discusses applications of probabilistic and connectionist models for constructing and training cumulative distribution functions (CDFs). First, it is shown how existing tools from the copula literature can be combined to build probabilistic models. It is found that this simple construction leads to numerical and scalability issues that make training and inference challenging. Next, several innovative ideas, combining neural networks, automatic differentiation and copula functions, introduce how to assemble black-box probabilistic models. The basic building block is a cumulative distribution function that is straightforward to construct, composed of arithmetic operations and nonlinear functions. There is no need to assume any specific parametric probability density function (PDF), making the model flexible and normalisation unnecessary. The only requirement is to design a computational graph that parameterises monotonically non-decreasing functions with a constrained range. Training can be then performed using standard tools from any neural network software library. Finally, factorial hidden Markov models (FHMMs) for sequential data are presented. It is shown how to leverage cumulative distribution functions in the form of the Gaussian copula and amortised stochastic variational method to encode hidden Markov chains coherently. This approach enables efficient learning and inference to model long sequences of high-dimensional data with long-range dependencies. Tackling such complex problems was impossible with the established FHMM approximate inference algorithm. It is empirically verified on several problems that some of the estimators introduced in this work can perform comparably or better than the currently popular models. Especially for tasks requiring tail-area or marginal probabilities that can be read directly from a cumulative distribution function.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Cumulative Distribution Functions As The Foundation For Probabilistic Models
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Statistical Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10157758
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