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Independent component analysis (ICA) is currently the most popularly used approach to blind source separation (BSS), the problem of recovering unknown source signals when their mixtures are observed but the actual mixing process is unknown. Many ICA algorithms assume that a fixed set of source signals consistently exists in mixtures throughout the time-series to be examined. However, real-world signals often have such difficult nonstationarity that each source signal abruptly appears or disappears, thus the set of active sources dynamically changes with time. In this paper, we propose switching ICA (SwICA), which focuses on such situations. The proposed approach is based on the noisy ICA formulated as a generative model. We employ a special type of hidden Markov model (HMM) to represent such prior knowledge that the source may abruptly appear or disappear with time. The special HMM setting then provides an effect of variable selection in a dynamic way. We use the variational Bayes (VB) method to derive an effective approximation of Bayesian inference for this model. In simulation experiments using artificial and realistic source signals, the proposed method exhibited performance superior to existing methods, especially in the presence of noise. The compared methods include the natural-gradient ICA with a nonholonomic constraint, and the existing ICA method incorporating an HMM source model, which aims to deal with general nonstationarities that may exist in source signals. In addition, the proposed method could successfully recover the source signals even when the total number of true sources was overestimated or was larger than that of mixtures. We also propose a modification of the basic Markov model into a semi-Markov model, and show that the semi-Markov one is more effective for robust estimation of the source appearance.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2007