Learning Graphical Models with Mercer Kernels

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 15 (NIPS 2002)

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Francis Bach, Michael Jordan


We present a class of algorithms for learning the structure of graphical models from data. The algorithms are based on a measure known as the kernel generalized variance (KGV), which essentially allows us to treat all variables on an equal footing as Gaussians in a feature space obtained from Mercer kernels. Thus we are able to learn hybrid graphs involving discrete and continuous variables of arbitrary type. We explore the computational properties of our approach, showing how to use the kernel trick to compute the relevant statistics in linear time. We illustrate our framework with experiments involving discrete and continuous data.