We introduce the Gamma-Exponential Process (GEP), a prior over a large family ofcontinuous time stochastic processes. A hierarchical version of this prior (HGEP; the Hierarchical GEP) yields a useful model for analyzing complex time series. Models based on HGEPs display many attractive properties: conjugacy, exchangeability and closed-form predictive distribution for the waiting times, and exact Gibbs updates for the time scale parameters. After establishing these properties, weshow how posterior inference can be carried efficiently using Particle MCMC methods . This yields a MCMC algorithm that can resample entire sequences atomicallywhile avoiding the complications of introducing slice and stick auxiliary variables of the beam sampler . We applied our model to the problem of estimating the disease progression in multiple sclerosis , and to RNA evolutionary modeling. In both domains, we found that our model outperformed the standard rate matrix estimation approach.
One of the most fundamental problems in causal inference is the estimation of a causal effect when variables are confounded. This is difficult in an observational study, because one has no direct evidence that all confounders have been adjusted for. We introduce a novel approach for estimating causal effects that exploits observational conditional independencies to suggest "weak" paths in a unknown causal graph. The widely used faithfulness condition of Spirtes et al. is relaxed to allow for varying degrees of "path cancellations" that imply conditional independencies but do not rule out the existence of confounding causal paths. The outcome is a posterior distribution over bounds on the average causal effect via a linear programming approach and Bayesian inference. We claim this approach should be used in regular practice along with other default tools in observational studies.
Bayesian networks are a popular representation of asymmetric (for example causal) relationships between random variables. Markov random fields (MRFs) are a complementary model of symmetric relationships used in computer vision, spatial modeling, and social and gene expression networks. A chain graph model under the Lauritzen-Wermuth-Frydenberg interpretation (hereafter a chain graph model) generalizes both Bayesian networks and MRFs, and can represent asymmetric and symmetric relationships together.As in other graphical models, the set of marginals from distributions in a chain graph model induced by the presence of hidden variables forms a complex model. One recent approach to the study of marginal graphical models is to consider a well-behaved supermodel. Such a supermodel of marginals of Bayesian networks, defined only by conditional independences, and termed the ordinary Markov model, was studied at length in (Evans and Richardson, 2014).In this paper, we show that special mixed graphs which we call segregated graphs can be associated, via a Markov property, with supermodels of a marginal of chain graphs defined only by conditional independences. Special features of segregated graphs imply the existence of a very natural factorization for these supermodels, and imply many existing results on the chain graph model, and ordinary Markov model carry over. Our results suggest that segregated graphs define an analogue of the ordinary Markov model for marginals of chain graph models.
Normative expert systems have not become commonplace because they have been difficult to build and use. Over the past decade, however, researchers have developed the influence diagram, a graphical representation of a decision maker's beliefs, alternatives, and preferences that serves as the knowledge base of a normative expert system. Most people who have seen the representation find it intuitive and easy to use. Consequently, the influence diagram has overcome significantly the barriers to constructing normative expert systems. Nevertheless, building influence diagrams is not practical for extremely large and complex domains. In this book, I address the difficulties associated with the construction of the probabilistic portion of an influence diagram, called a knowledge map, belief network, or Bayesian network. I introduce two representations that facilitate the generation of large knowledge maps. In particular, I introduce the similarity network, a tool for building the network structure of a knowledge map, and the partition, a tool for assessing the probabilities associated with a knowledge map. I then use these representations to build Pathfinder, a large normative expert system for the diagnosis of lymph-node diseases (the domain contains over 60 diseases and over 100 disease findings). In an early version of the system, I encoded the knowledge of the expert using an erroneous assumption that all disease findings were independent, given each disease. When the expert and I attempted to build a more accurate knowledge map for the domain that would capture the dependencies among the disease findings, we failed. Using a similarity network, however, we built the knowledge-map structure for the entire domain in approximately 40 hours. Furthermore, the partition representation reduced the number of probability assessments required by the expert from 75,000 to 14,000.
Our research focuses on studying and developing methods for reducing the dimensionality of large datasets, common in biomedical applications. A major problem when learning information about patients based on genetic sequencing data is that there are often more feature variables (genetic data) than observations (patients). This makes direct supervised learning difficult. One way of reducing the feature space is to use latent Dirichlet allocation in order to group genetic variants in an unsupervised manner. Latent Dirichlet allocation is a common model in natural language processing, which describes a document as a mixture of topics, each with a probability of generating certain words. This can be generalized as a Bayesian tensor decomposition to account for multiple feature variables. While we made some progress improving and modifying these methods, our significant contributions are with hierarchical topic modeling. We developed distinct methods of incorporating hierarchical topic modeling, based on nested Chinese restaurant processes and Pachinko Allocation Machine, into Bayesian tensor decompositions. We apply these models to predict whether or not patients have autism spectrum disorder based on genetic sequencing data. We examine a dataset from National Database for Autism Research consisting of paired siblings -- one with autism, and the other without -- and counts of their genetic variants. Additionally, we linked the genes with their Reactome biological pathways. We combine this information into a tensor of patients, counts of their genetic variants, and the membership of these genes in pathways. Once we decompose this tensor, we use logistic regression on the reduced features in order to predict if patients have autism. We also perform a similar analysis of a dataset of patients with one of four common types of cancer (breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal).