Online Variational Approximations to non-Exponential Family Change Point Models: With Application to Radar Tracking

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 26 (NIPS 2013)

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Ryan D. Turner, Steven Bottone, Clay J. Stanek


The Bayesian online change point detection (BOCPD) algorithm provides an efficient way to do exact inference when the parameters of an underlying model may suddenly change over time. BOCPD requires computation of the underlying model's posterior predictives, which can only be computed online in $O(1)$ time and memory for exponential family models. We develop variational approximations to the posterior on change point times (formulated as run lengths) for efficient inference when the underlying model is not in the exponential family, and does not have tractable posterior predictive distributions. In doing so, we develop improvements to online variational inference. We apply our methodology to a tracking problem using radar data with a signal-to-noise feature that is Rice distributed. We also develop a variational method for inferring the parameters of the (non-exponential family) Rice distribution.