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Nonparametric latent feature models offer a flexible way to discover the latent features underlying the data, without having to a priori specify their number. The Indian Buffet Process (IBP) is a popular example of such a model. Inference in IBP based models, however, remains a challenge. Sampling techniques such as MCMC can be computationally expensive and can take a long time to converge to the stationary distribution. Variational techniques, although faster than sampling, can be difficult to design, and can still remain slow on large data. In many problems, however, we only seek a maximum a posteriori (MAP) estimate of the latent feature assignment matrix. For such cases, we show that techniques such as beam search can give fast, approximate MAP estimates in the IBP based models. If samples from the posterior are desired, these MAP estimates can also serve as sensible initializers for MCMC based algorithms. Experimental results on a variety of datasets suggest that our algorithms can be a computationally viable alternative to Gibbs sampling, the particle filter, and variational inference based approaches for the IBP, and also perform better than other heuristics such as greedy search.

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