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Latent variable models have two basic components: a latent structure encoding a hypothesized complex pattern and an observation model capturing the data distribution. With the advancements in machine learning and increasing availability of resources, the authors are able to perform inference in deeper and more sophisticated latent variable models. In most cases, these models are designed with a particular application in mind; hence, they tend to have restrictive observation models. The challenge, surfaced with the increasing diversity of data sets, is to generalize these latent models to work with different data types. The authors aim to address this problem by utilizing exponential dispersion models (EDMs) and proposing mechanisms for incorporating them into latent structures.
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