Variational learning for Gaussian mixtures
Nicholaos Nasios and Adrian Bors
IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics - Part B: Cybernetics
This paper proposes a joint maximum likelihood and Bayesian methodology for estimating Gaussian mixture models. In Bayesian inference, the distributions of parameters are modeled, characterized by hyperparameters. In the case of Gaussian mixtures, the distributions of parameters are considered as Gaussian for the mean, Wishart for the covariance, and Dirichlet for the mixing probability. The learning task consists of estimating the hyperparameters characterizing these distributions. The integration in the parameter space is decoupled using an unsupervised variational methodology entitled variational expectation-maximization (VEM). This paper introduces a hyperparameter initialization procedure for the training algorithm. In the first stage, distributions of parameters resulting from successive runs of the expectation-maximization algorithm are formed. Afterward, maximum-likelihood estimators are applied to find appropriate initial values for the hyperparameters. The proposed initialization provides faster convergence, more accurate hyperparameter estimates, and better generalization for the VEM training algorithm. The proposed methodology is applied in blind signal detection and in color image segmentation.