Question

How can the Chinese restaurant process and other similar machine learning models apply to enterprise AI?

Answer
By Justin Stoltzfus | Last updated: September 10, 2018

The question of how the Chinese restaurant process can instruct enterprise AI is an interesting one, as right now, companies in all sorts of industries are picking up actionable ideas from machine learning in general, and these kinds of algorithm processes in particular.

The Chinese restaurant process is a part of probability theory, partially based on Dirichlet's stochastic processes, that can direct the randomization of partitions.


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A simple way to explain the Chinese restaurant process is that in an imaginary Chinese restaurant with infinite tables, people will cluster at these tables according to a given set of probabilities used by the algorithm. Then, the algorithm will model how many people will sit at each table, in which the tables are the "partitions." The randomization or probabilistic aspect of the Chinese restaurant process can be shown in mathematical form.

How do these algorithm processes affect enterprise IT? There are many ways that companies can use these constructs in aid of utilizing big data with machine learning, or developing valuable business intelligence through this type of modeling. For instance, very literally, the Chinese restaurant process can be used to predict the clustering of customers at tables in a restaurant, or at a pop-up retail location, or anywhere else. However, perhaps a better example would be in the realm of transactional retail, where complex Chinese restaurant process-based algorithms could help to predict customer activity such as purchases/conversions or demand for existing or future stock.

In a very general sense, these stochastic processes seek to model human behavior, the behavior of masses of humans, in ways that build enterprise intelligence and direct decision-making. In CRM, inventory control, payroll, product development, and almost any other aspect of business, the Chinese restaurant process and similar ideas can be used for predictive analytics with the right kinds of targeted modeling.

However, another major and immediate use of the Chinese restaurant process has little to do with modeling human behaviors. The Chinese restaurant process can also be used for high-level "discriminative" work, as in image processing. Developing clusters of images according to a Chinese restaurant process can help machine learning programs to better adapt to sets of training rules and produce discriminative outcomes. So, in a sense, the Chinese restaurant process can be used for either behavioral modeling, or technical modeling, or both.

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Written by Justin Stoltzfus | Contributor, Reviewer

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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.

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