We give a polynomial-time algorithm for provably learning the structure and parameters of bipartite noisy-or Bayesian networks of binary variables where the top layer is completely hidden. Unsupervised learning of these models is a form of discrete factor analysis, enabling the discovery of hidden variables and their causal relationships with observed data. We obtain an efficient learning algorithm for a family of Bayesian networks that we call quartet-learnable. The existence of a quartet allows us to uniquely identify each latent variable and to learn all parameters involving that latent variable. We also show how to subtract already learned latent variables from the model to create new singly-coupled quartets, which substantially expands the class of structures that we can learn. Finally, we give a proof of the polynomial sample complexity of our learning algorithm, and experimentally compare it to variational EM.

Discovering Hidden Variables in Noisy-Or Networks using Quartet Tests