Variational Bayesian Multinomial Probit Regression with Gaussian Process Priors
Mark Girolami and Simon Rogers
It is well known in the statistics literature that augmenting binary and polychotomous response models with Gaussian latent variables enables exact Bayesian analysis via Gibbs sampling from the parameter posterior. By adopting such a data augmentation strategy, dispensing with priors over regression coefficients in favour of Gaussian Process (GP) priors over functions, and employing variational approximations to the full posterior we obtain efficient
computational methods for Gaussian Process classification in the multi-class setting.
The model augmentation with additional latent variables ensures full a posteriori class coupling whilst retaining the simple a priori independent GP covariance structure from which sparse approximations, such as multi-class Informative Vector Machines (IVM), emerge in a very natural and straightforward manner. This is the first time that a fully Variational Bayesian treatment for multi-class GP classification has been developed without having to
resort to additional explicit approximations to the non-Gaussian likelihood term. Empirical comparisons with exact analysis via MCMC and Laplace approximations illustrate the utility of the variational approximation as a computationally economic alternative to full MCMC and it is shown to be more accurate than the Laplace approximation.