Radford M. Neal, Dept. of Statistical Sciences and Dept. of Computer Science, University of Toronto

Gaussian Process (GP) regression models typically assume that residuals are Gaussian and have the same variance for all observations. However, applications with input-dependent noise (heteroscedastic residuals) frequently arise in practice, as do applications in which the residuals do not have a Gaussian distribution. In this paper, we propose a GP Regression model with a latent variable that serves as an additional unobserved covariate for the regression. This model (which we call GPLC) allows for heteroscedasticity since it allows the function to have a changing partial derivative with respect to this unobserved covariate. With a suitable covariance function, our GPLC model can handle (a) Gaussian residuals with input-dependent variance, or (b) non-Gaussian residuals with input-dependent variance, or (c) Gaussian residuals with constant variance. We compare our model, using synthetic datasets, with a model proposed by Goldberg, Williams and Bishop (1998), which we refer to as GPLV, which only deals with case (a), as well as a standard GP model which can handle only case (c). Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods are developed for both modelsl. Experiments show that when the data is heteroscedastic, both GPLC and GPLV give better results (smaller mean squared error and negative log-probability density) than standard GP regression. In addition, when the residual are Gaussian, our GPLC model is generally nearly as good as GPLV, while when the residuals are non-Gaussian, our GPLC model is better than GPLV.

26 December 2012, 19 pages: pdf.

Also available at arxiv.org.