James McInerney


James McInerney

Hi, I'm currently in between jobs. I was a postdoctoral research scientist with David Blei at Columbia University, working on probabilistic modelling and approximate inference. I have developed a number of statistical inference and modelling techniques that have been successfully applied to text, recommendation, and mobility data in top tier machine learning conferences.

Previously, I obtained my PhD in Mar 2014, supervised by Nick Jennings and Alex Rogers on the ORCHID project at the University of Southampton, UK. I have an MSc in Computing (Artificial Intelligence) from Imperial College London, and a BA in Computer Science from Oxford University.

contact@jamesmc.com | blog | twitter | quora

Selected publications

James McInerney

The Population Posterior and Bayesian Modeling on Streamsbib | pdf ]
J. McInerney, R. Ranganath, and D. Blei. In Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2015.

Abstract: Many modern data analysis problems involve inferences from streaming data. However, streaming data is not easily amenable to the standard probabilistic modeling approaches, which assume that we condition on finite data. We develop population variational Bayes, a new approach for using Bayesian modeling to analyze streams of data. It approximates a new type of distribution, the population posterior, which combines the notion of a population distribution of the data with Bayesian inference in a probabilistic model. We study our method with latent Dirichlet allocation and Dirichlet process mixtures on several large-scale data sets.

James McInerney

PhD thesis
Intelligent agents for mobile location servicesbib | pdf ]
J. McInerney, 2014.
Examiners: Cecilia Mascolo (University of Cambridge), Srinandan Dasmahapatra (University of Southampton).



James McInerney

Learning periodic human behaviour models from sparse data for crowdsourcing aid delivery in developing countriesbib | pdf ]
J. McInerney, A. Rogers, and N. R. Jennings. In Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI), 2013.

Abstract: In many developing countries, half the population lives in rural locations, where access to essentials such as school materials, mosquito nets, and medical supplies is restricted. We propose an alternative method of distribution (to standard road delivery) in which the existing mobility habits of a local population are leveraged to deliver aid, which raises two technical challenges in the areas optimisation and learning. For optimisation, a standard Markov decision process applied to this problem is intractable, so we provide an exact formulation that takes advantage of the periodicities in human location behaviour. To learn such behaviour models from sparse data (i.e., cell tower observations), we develop a Bayesian model of human mobility. Using real cell tower data of the mobility behaviour of 50,000 individuals in Ivory Coast, we find that our model outperforms the state of the art approaches in mobility prediction by at least 25% (in held-out data likelihood). Furthermore, when incorporating mobility prediction with our MDP approach, we find a 81.3% reduction in total delivery time versus routine planning that minimises just the number of participants in the solution path.

Press: New Scientist, Postal Technology International

James McInerney

Breaking the habit: measuring and predicting departures from routine in individual human mobilitybib | pdf ]
J. McInerney, S. Stein, A Rogers, and N. R. Jennings. Pervasive and Mobile Computing, 2013.

Abstract: Researchers studying daily life mobility patterns have recently shown that humans are typically highly predictable in their movements. However, no existing work has examined the boundaries of this predictability, where human behaviour transitions temporarily from routine patterns to highly unpredictable states. To address this shortcoming, we tackle two interrelated challenges. First, we develop a novel information-theoretic metric, called instantaneous entropy, to analyse an individual's mobility patterns and identify temporary departures from routine. Second, to predict such departures in the future, we propose the first Bayesian framework that explicitly models breaks from routine, showing that it outperforms current state-of-the-art predictors.

This work resulted in a follow-up project funded by the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) in collaboration with BAE Systems.

James McInerney

Modelling heterogeneous location habits in human populations for location prediction under data sparsitybib | pdf ]
J. McInerney, J. Zheng, A. Rogers, and N. R. Jennings. In International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp), 2013.

Abstract: In recent years, researchers have sought to capture the daily life location behaviour of groups of people for exploratory, inference, and predictive purposes. However, development of such approaches has been limited by the requirement of personal semantic labels for locations or social/spatial overlap between individuals in the group. To address this shortcoming, we present a Bayesian model of mobility in populations (i.e., groups without spatial or social interconnections) that is not subject to any of these requirements. The model intelligently shares temporal parameters between people, but keeps the spatial parameters specific to individuals. To illustrate the advantages of population modelling, we apply our model to the difficult problem of overcoming data sparsity in location prediction systems, using the Nokia dataset comprising 38 individuals, and find a factor of 2.4 improvement in location prediction performance against a state-of-the-art model when training on only 20 hours of observations.

All publications

S. Mandt, J. McInerney, F. Abrol, R. Ranganath, and D. Blei. Variational tempering. In International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (AISTATS), May 2016. [ bib | pdf ]

D. Liang, L. Charlin, J. McInerney, and D. Blei. Modeling user exposure in recommendation. In International World Wide Web Conference (WWW), April 2016. [ bib | pdf ]

J. McInerney, R. Ranganath, and D. Blei. The Population Posterior and Bayesian Modeling on Streams. In Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), December 2015. [ bib | pdf ]

L. Charlin, R. Ranganath, J. McInerney, and D. Blei. Dynamic Poisson Factorization. In Conference on Recommender Systems (RecSys), September 2015. [ bib | pdf ]

J. McInerney and D. Blei. Discovering newsworthy tweets with a geographical topic model. In Workshop on Data Science for News Publishing, in conjunction with Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD), July 2014. [ bib | pdf ]

J. McInerney, J. Zheng, A. Rogers, and N. R. Jennings. Modelling heterogeneous location habits in human populations for location prediction under data sparsity. In International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp), September 2013. [ bib | pdf ]

A. Rutherford, M. Cebrian, I. Rahwan, S. Dsouza, J. McInerney, V. Naroditskiy, M. Venanzi, N. R. Jennings, J. R. deLara, E. Wahlstedt, and S. U. Miller. Targeted social mobilization in a global manhunt. PLoS ONE, 8(9):e74628, September 2013. [ bib | pdf ]

J. McInerney, A. Rogers, and N. R. Jennings. Bus, bike and random journeys: crowdsourcing aid distribution in Ivory Coast. Significance, 10(4):4-9, August 2013. [ bib | pdf ]

J. McInerney, S. Stein, A Rogers, and N. R. Jennings. Breaking the habit: measuring and predicting departures from routine in individual human mobility. Pervasive and Mobile Computing, 9(6):808-822, July 2013. [ bib | pdf ]

J. McInerney, A. Rogers, and N. R. Jennings. Learning periodic human behaviour models from sparse data for crowdsourcing aid delivery in developing countries. In Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI), pages 401-410, July 2013. [ bib | pdf ]

I. Rahwan, S. Dsouza, A. Rutherford, V. Naroditskiy, J. McInerney, M. Venanzi, N. R. Jennings, and M. Cebrian. Global manhunt pushes the limits of social mobilization. IEEE Computer, 46(4):68-75, April 2013. [ bib | pdf ]

N. Cuong Truong, J. McInerney, L. Tran-Thanh, E. Costanza, and S. D. Ramchurn. Forecasting multi-appliance usage for smart home energy management. In 23rd International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2013), April 2013. [ bib | pdf ]

J. McInerney, A. Rogers, and N. R. Jennings. Improving location prediction services for new users with probabilistic latent semantic analysis. In 4th International Workshop on Location-Based Social Networks, September 2012. [ bib | pdf ]

J. McInerney, S. Stein, A. Rogers, and N. R. Jennings. Exploring periods of low predictability in daily life mobility. In Mobile Data Challenge by Nokia, July 2012. [ bib | pdf ]

Code

vbihmm ] Variational inference for hierarichcal HMMs and/or mixture models in Python with customisable and composable observation likelihoods.

Invited & Conference Talks

(In reverse chronological order)

Probabilistic Programming and Advanced Machine Learning (PPAML) DARPA meeting, Portland, Oregon, US - July 2015

Department of Engineering, Oxford University, Oxford, UK - March 2015

Big Data Workshop, Fields Institute, Toronto, Canada - Jan 2015

Google DeepMind, London, UK - Nov 2014

Machine Learning Group, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK - Nov 2014

School of Computer Science, Birmingham University, Birmingham, UK - May 2014

International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp), Zurich, Switzerland, US - Sept 2013

Placed Inc., Seattle, Washington, US - July 2013

Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI), Bellevue, Washington, US - July 2013

Conference on the Analysis of Mobile Phone Datasets (NetMob), Boston, Massachusetts, US - May 2013

Advanced Technology Centre (ATC), BAE Systems plc, Filton, UK - Feb 2013

International Workshop on Location-Based Social Networks (LBSN), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US - Sept 2012

Mobile Data Challenge by Nokia Workshop, Newcastle, UK - June 2012

Department of Electronics and Computer Science, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy - Dec 2011