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3rd NIPS Workshop on Probabilistic Programming
Daniel Roy · Josh Tenenbaum · Thomas Dietterich · Stuart J Russell · YI WU · Ulrik R Beierholm · Alp Kucukelbir · Zenna Tavares · Yura Perov · Daniel Lee · Brian Ruttenberg · Sameer Singh · Michael Hughes · Marco Gaboardi · Alexey Radul · Vikash Mansinghka · Frank Wood · Sebastian Riedel · Prakash Panangaden

Sat Dec 13 05:30 AM -- 03:30 PM (PST) @ Level 5; room 512 d,h
Event URL: http://probabilistic-programming.org/wiki/NIPS*2014_Workshop »

Probabilistic models and approximate inference algorithms are powerful, widely-used tools, central to fields ranging from machine learning to robotics to genetics. However, even simple variations on models and algorithms from the standard machine learning toolkit can be difficult and time-consuming to design, specify, analyze, implement, optimize and debug. The emerging field of probabilistic programming aims to address these challenges by developing formal languages and software systems that integrate key ideas from probabilistic modeling and inference with programming languages and Turing-universal computation.

Over the past two years, the field has rapidly grown and begun to mature. Systems have developed enough that they are seeing significant adoption in real-world applications while also highlighting the need for research in profiling, testing, verification and debugging. New academic and industrial languages have been developed, yielding new applications as well as new technical problems. General-purpose probabilistic programming languages have emerged, complementing previous work focused on specific domains; some offer programmable inference so that experts can take over where automatic techniques fail. The field is has also begun to explore new AI architectures that perform probabilistic reasoning or hierarchical Bayesian approaches for inductive learning over rich data structures and software simulators.

This workshop will survey recent progress, emphasizing results from the ongoing DARPA PPAML program on probabilistic programming. A key theme will be articulating formal connections between probabilistic programming and other fields central to the NIPS community.

Author Information

Daniel Roy (Univ of Toronto & Vector)
Josh Tenenbaum (MIT)

Josh Tenenbaum is an Associate Professor of Computational Cognitive Science at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He received his PhD from MIT in 1999, and was an Assistant Professor at Stanford University from 1999 to 2002. He studies learning and inference in humans and machines, with the twin goals of understanding human intelligence in computational terms and bringing computers closer to human capacities. He focuses on problems of inductive generalization from limited data -- learning concepts and word meanings, inferring causal relations or goals -- and learning abstract knowledge that supports these inductive leaps in the form of probabilistic generative models or 'intuitive theories'. He has also developed several novel machine learning methods inspired by human learning and perception, most notably Isomap, an approach to unsupervised learning of nonlinear manifolds in high-dimensional data. He has been Associate Editor for the journal Cognitive Science, has been active on program committees for the CogSci and NIPS conferences, and has co-organized a number of workshops, tutorials and summer schools in human and machine learning. Several of his papers have received outstanding paper awards or best student paper awards at the IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), NIPS, and Cognitive Science conferences. He is the recipient of the New Investigator Award from the Society for Mathematical Psychology (2005), the Early Investigator Award from the Society of Experimental Psychologists (2007), and the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology (in the area of cognition and human learning) from the American Psychological Association (2008).

Thomas Dietterich (Oregon State University)

Tom Dietterich (AB Oberlin College 1977; MS University of Illinois 1979; PhD Stanford University 1984) is Professor and Director of Intelligent Systems Research at Oregon State University. Among his contributions to machine learning research are (a) the formalization of the multiple-instance problem, (b) the development of the error-correcting output coding method for multi-class prediction, (c) methods for ensemble learning, (d) the development of the MAXQ framework for hierarchical reinforcement learning, and (e) the application of gradient tree boosting to problems of structured prediction and latent variable models. Dietterich has pursued application-driven fundamental research in many areas including drug discovery, computer vision, computational sustainability, and intelligent user interfaces. Dietterich has served the machine learning community in a variety of roles including Executive Editor of the Machine Learning journal, co-founder of the Journal of Machine Learning Research, editor of the MIT Press Book Series on Adaptive Computation and Machine Learning, and editor of the Morgan-Claypool Synthesis series on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. He was Program Co-Chair of AAAI-1990, Program Chair of NIPS-2000, and General Chair of NIPS-2001. He was first President of the International Machine Learning Society (the parent organization of ICML) and served a term on the NIPS Board of Trustees and the Council of AAAI.

Stuart J Russell (UC Berkeley)
YI WU (UC Berkeley)
Ulrik R Beierholm (University of Birmingham)
Alp Kucukelbir (Fero Labs / Columbia University)
Zenna Tavares (Basis Research Institute & Columbia University)
Yura Perov (Babylon)
Daniel Lee (Columbia University)
Brian Ruttenberg (Charles River Analytics)
Sameer Singh (University of California, Irvine)
Michael Hughes (Tufts University)
Marco Gaboardi (Harvard University and University of Dundee)
Alexey Radul (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Vikash Mansinghka (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Vikash Mansinghka is a research scientist at MIT, where he leads the Probabilistic Computing Project. Vikash holds S.B. degrees in Mathematics and in Computer Science from MIT, as well as an M.Eng. in Computer Science and a PhD in Computation. He also held graduate fellowships from the National Science Foundation and MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. His PhD dissertation on natively probabilistic computation won the MIT George M. Sprowls dissertation award in computer science, and his research on the Picture probabilistic programming language won an award at CVPR. He served on DARPA’s Information Science and Technology advisory board from 2010-2012, and currently serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Machine Learning Research and the journal Statistics and Computation. He was an advisor to Google DeepMind and has co-founded two AI-related startups, one acquired and one currently operational.

Frank Wood (University of British Columbia)

Dr. Wood is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. Before that he was an assistant professor of Statistics at Columbia University and a research scientist at the Columbia Center for Computational Learning Systems. He formerly was a postdoctoral fellow of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit of the University College London. He holds a PhD from Brown University (’07) and BS from Cornell University (’96), both in computer science. Dr. Wood is the original architect of both the Anglican and Probabilistic-C probabilistic programming systems. He conducts AI-driven research at the boundary of probabilistic programming, Bayesian modeling, and Monte Carlo methods. Dr. Wood holds 6 patents, has authored over 50 papers, received the AISTATS best paper award in 2009, and has been awarded faculty research awards from Xerox, Google and Amazon. Prior to his academic career he was a successful entrepreneur having run and sold the content-based image retrieval company ToFish! to AOL/Time Warner and served as CEO of Interfolio.

Sebastian Riedel (DeepMind / UCL)
Prakash Panangaden (McGill University, Montreal)

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