Learning Hidden Markov Models from Non-sequence Data via Tensor Decomposition

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

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Tzu-Kuo Huang, Jeff Schneider


Learning dynamic models from observed data has been a central issue in many scientific studies or engineering tasks. The usual setting is that data are collected sequentially from trajectories of some dynamical system operation. In quite a few modern scientific modeling tasks, however, it turns out that reliable sequential data are rather difficult to gather, whereas out-of-order snapshots are much easier to obtain. Examples include the modeling of galaxies, chronic diseases such Alzheimer's, or certain biological processes. Existing methods for learning dynamic model from non-sequence data are mostly based on Expectation-Maximization, which involves non-convex optimization and is thus hard to analyze. Inspired by recent advances in spectral learning methods, we propose to study this problem from a different perspective: moment matching and spectral decomposition. Under that framework, we identify reasonable assumptions on the generative process of non-sequence data, and propose learning algorithms based on the tensor decomposition method \cite{anandkumar2012tensor} to \textit{provably} recover first-order Markov models and hidden Markov models. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first formal guarantee on learning from non-sequence data. Preliminary simulation results confirm our theoretical findings.