Combinatorial Clustering and the Beta Negative Binomial Process

We develop a Bayesian nonparametric approach to a general family of latent class problems in which individuals can belong simultaneously to multiple classes and where each class can be exhibited multiple times by an individual. We introduce a combinatorial stochastic process known as the negative binomial process (NBP) as an infinite-dimensional prior appropriate for such problems. We show that the NBP is conjugate to the beta process and we characterize the posterior distribution under the beta negative binomial process (BNBP) and hierarchical models based on the BNBP (the HBNBP). We study the asymptotic properties of the BNBP and develop a three-parameter extension of the BNBP that exhibits power-law behavior. We derive MCMC algorithms for posterior inference under the HBNBP and we present experiments using these algorithms in the domain of document analysis.

Preprint on arXiv