We propose Bayesian Conditional Random Fields (BCRFs) for classifying interdependent and structured data, such as sequences, images or webs. BCRFs are a Bayesian approach to training and inference with conditional random fields, which were previously trained by maximizing likelihood (ML) (Lafferty et al., 2001). Our framework eliminates the problem of overfitting, and offers the full advantages of a Bayesian treatment. Unlike the ML approach, we estimate the posterior distribution of the model parameters during training, and average over this posterior during inference. We apply an extension of EP method, the power EP method, to incorporate the partition function. For algorithmic stability and accuracy, we flatten the approximation structures to avoid two-level approximations. We demonstrate the superior prediction accuracy of BCRFs over conditional random fields trained with ML or MAP on synthetic and real datasets.
paper . talk . slides
Hand-drawn diagrams present a complex recognition problem. Elements of the diagram are often individually ambiguous, and require context to be interpreted. We present a recognition method based on Bayesian conditional random fields (BCRFs) that jointly analyzes all drawing elements in order to incorporate contextual cues. The classification of each object affects the classification of its neighbors. BCRFs allow flexible and correlated features, and take both spatial and temporal information into account. BCRFs estimate the posterior distribution of parameters during training, and average predictions over the posterior for testing. As a result of model averaging, BCRFs avoid the overfitting problems associated with maximum likelihood training. We also incorporate Automatic Relevance Determination (ARD), a Bayesian feature selection technique, into BCRFs. The result is significantly lower error rates compared to ML- and MAP-trained CRFs.