Linzner, Dominik, Koeppl, Heinz

Continuous-time Bayesian networks (CTBNs) constitute a general and powerful framework for modeling continuous-time stochastic processes on networks. This makes them particularly attractive for learning the directed structures among interacting entities. However, if the available data is incomplete, one needs to simulate the prohibitively complex CTBN dynamics. Existing approximation techniques, such as sampling and low-order variational methods, either scale unfavorably in system size, or are unsatisfactory in terms of accuracy. Inspired by recent advances in statistical physics, we present a new approximation scheme based on cluster-variational methods significantly improving upon existing variational approximations. We can analytically marginalize the parameters of the approximate CTBN, as these are of secondary importance for structure learning. This recovers a scalable scheme for direct structure learning from incomplete and noisy time-series data. Our approach outperforms existing methods in terms of scalability.

I have made some progress with my work on combining independent evidence using a Bayesian approach but eschewing standard Bayesian updating. I found a neat analytical way of doing this, to a very good approximation, in cases where each estimate of a parameter corresponds to the ratio of two variables each determined with normal error, the fractional uncertainty in the numerator and denominator variables differing between the types of evidence. This seems a not uncommon situation in science, and it is a good approximation to that which exists when estimating climate sensitivity. I have had a manuscript in which I develop and test this method accepted by the Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference (for a special issue on Confidence Distributions edited by Tore Schweder and Nils Hjort). Frequentist coverage is almost exact using my analytical solution, based on combining Jeffreys' priors in quadrature, whereas Bayesian updating produces far poorer probability matching.

Linzner, Dominik, Koeppl, Heinz

Continuous-time Bayesian networks (CTBNs) constitute a general and powerful framework for modeling continuous-time stochastic processes on networks. This makes them particularly attractive for learning the directed structures among interacting entities. However, if the available data is incomplete, one needs to simulate the prohibitively complex CTBN dynamics. Existing approximation techniques, such as sampling and low-order variational methods, either scale unfavorably in system size, or are unsatisfactory in terms of accuracy. Inspired by recent advances in statistical physics, we present a new approximation scheme based on cluster-variational methods that significantly improves upon existing variational approximations. We can analytically marginalize the parameters of the approximate CTBN, as these are of secondary importance for structure learning. This recovers a scalable scheme for direct structure learning from incomplete and noisy time-series data. Our approach outperforms existing methods in terms of scalability.

Linzner, Dominik, Koeppl, Heinz

Continuous-time Bayesian networks (CTBNs) constitute a general and powerful framework for modeling continuous-time stochastic processes on networks. This makes them particularly attractive for learning the directed structures among interacting entities. However, if the available data is incomplete, one needs to simulate the prohibitively complex CTBN dynamics. Existing approximation techniques, such as sampling and low-order variational methods, either scale unfavorably in system size, or are unsatisfactory in terms of accuracy. Inspired by recent advances in statistical physics, we present a new approximation scheme based on cluster-variational methods that significantly improves upon existing variational approximations.

We present and implement two algorithms for analytic asymptotic evaluation of the marginal likelihood of data given a Bayesian network with hidden nodes. As shown by previous work, this evaluation is particularly hard for latent Bayesian network models, namely networks that include hidden variables, where asymptotic approximation deviates from the standard BIC score. Our algorithms solve two central difficulties in asymptotic evaluation of marginal likelihood integrals, namely, evaluation of regular dimensionality drop for latent Bayesian network models and computation of non-standard approximation formulas for singular statistics for these models. The presented algorithms are implemented in Matlab and Maple and their usage is demonstrated for marginal likelihood approximations for Bayesian networks with hidden variables.