Active learning seeks to reduce the amount of data required to fit the parameters of a model, thus forming an important class of techniques in modern machine learning. However, past work on active learning has largely overlooked latent variable models, which play a vital role in neuroscience, psychology, and a variety of other engineering and scientific disciplines. Here we address this gap by proposing a novel framework for maximum-mutual-information input selection for discrete latent variable regression models. We first apply our method to a class of models known as mixtures of linear regressions (MLR). While it is well known that active learning confers no advantage for linear-gaussian regression models, we use Fisher information to show analytically that active learning can nevertheless achieve large gains for mixtures of such models, and we validate this improvement using both simulations and real-world data. We then consider a powerful class of temporally structured latent variable models given by a hidden Markov model (HMM) with generalized linear model (GLM) observations, which has recently been used to identify discrete states from animal decision-making data. We show that our method substantially reduces the amount of data needed to fit GLM-HMMs and outperforms a variety of approximate methods based on variational and amortized inference. Infomax learning for latent variable models thus offers a powerful approach for characterizing temporally structured latent states, with a wide variety of applications in neuroscience and beyond.

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