Variational Learning for Rectified Factor Analysis

M Harva, Ata Kaban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


Linear factor models with non-negativity constraints have received a great deal of interest in a number of problem domains. In existing approaches, positivity has often been associated with sparsity. in this paper we argue that sparsity of the factors is not always a desirable option, but certainly a technical limitation of the currently existing solutions. We then reformulate the problem in order to relax the sparsity constraint while retaining positivity. This is achieved by employing a rectification nonlinearity rather than a positively supported prior directly on the latent space. A variational learning procedure is derived for the proposed model and this is contrasted to existing related approaches. Both i.i.d. and first-order AR variants of the proposed model are provided and they are experimentally demonstrated with artificial data. Application to the analysis of galaxy spectra show the benefits of the method in a real-world astrophysical problem, where the existing approach is not a viable alternative. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-527
Number of pages19
JournalSignal Processing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007


  • positive factor analysis
  • variational Bayes
  • source separation


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