This paper presents a formulation for unsupervised learning of clusters reflecting multiple causal structure in binary data. Unlike the “hard” k-means clustering algorithm and the “soft” mixture model, each of which assumes that a single hidden event generates each data point, a multiple cause model accounts for observed data by combining assertions from many hidden causes, each of which can pertain to varying degree to any subset of the observable dimensions. We employ an objective function and iterative gradient descent learning algorithm resembling the conventional mixture model. A crucial issue is the mixing function for combining beliefs from different cluster centers in order to generate data predictions whose errors are minimized both during recognition and learning. The mixing function constitutes a prior assumption about underlying structural regularities of the data domain; we demonstrate a weakness inherent to the popular weighted sum followed by sigmoid squashing, and offer alternative forms of the nonlinearity for two types of data domain. Results are presented demonstrating the algorithm's ability successfully to discover coherent multiple causal representations in several experimental data sets.

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