The Time-Marginalized Coalescent Prior for Hierarchical Clustering

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 25 (NIPS 2012)

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Levi Boyles, Max Welling


We introduce a new prior for use in Nonparametric Bayesian Hierarchical Clustering. The prior is constructed by marginalizing out the time information of Kingman’s coalescent, providing a prior over tree structures which we call the Time-Marginalized Coalescent (TMC). This allows for models which factorize the tree structure and times, providing two benefits: more flexible priors may be constructed and more efficient Gibbs type inference can be used. We demonstrate this on an example model for density estimation and show the TMC achieves competitive experimental results.