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Convex Relaxations of EM
Yuhong Guo · Dale Schuurmans

Mon Dec 03 10:30 AM -- 10:40 AM (PST) @

We investigate a new, convex relaxation of expectation-maximization (EM) that approximates a standard objective while eliminating local minima. First, a cautionary result is presented, showing that any convex relaxation of EM over hidden variables must give trivial results if any dependence on the missing values is retained. Although this appears to be a strong negative outcome, we then demonstrate how the problem can be bypassed by using equivalence relations instead of value assignments over hidden variables. In particular, we develop new algorithms for estimating exponential conditional models that only require equivalence relation information over the variable values. This reformulation leads to an exact expression for EM in a wide range of problems. We then develop a semidefinite relaxation that yields effective global training by eliminating local minima.

Author Information

Yuhong Guo (Carleton University)
Dale Schuurmans (Google Brain & University of Alberta)

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