Probability Product Kernels

Tony Jebara, Risi Kondor, Andrew Howard; 5(Jul):819-844, 2004.


The advantages of discriminative learning algorithms and kernel machines are combined with generative modeling using a novel kernel between distributions. In the probability product kernel, data points in the input space are mapped to distributions over the sample space and a general inner product is then evaluated as the integral of the product of pairs of distributions. The kernel is straightforward to evaluate for all exponential family models such as multinomials and Gaussians and yields interesting nonlinear kernels. Furthermore, the kernel is computable in closed form for latent distributions such as mixture models, hidden Markov models and linear dynamical systems. For intractable models, such as switching linear dynamical systems, structured mean-field approximations can be brought to bear on the kernel evaluation. For general distributions, even if an analytic expression for the kernel is not feasible, we show a straightforward sampling method to evaluate it. Thus, the kernel permits discriminative learning methods, including support vector machines, to exploit the properties, metrics and invariances of the generative models we infer from each datum. Experiments are shown using multinomial models for text, hidden Markov models for biological data sets and linear dynamical systems for time series data.

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