Data Harmonization Via Regularized Nonparametric Mixing Distribution Estimation

10/12/2021
by   Steven Wilkins-Reeves, et al.
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Data harmonization is the process by which an equivalence is developed between two variables measuring a common trait. Our problem is motivated by dementia research in which multiple tests are used in practice to measure the same underlying cognitive ability such as language or memory. We connect this statistical problem to mixing distribution estimation. We introduce and study a non-parametric latent trait model, develop a method which enforces uniqueness of the regularized maximum likelihood estimator, show how a nonparametric EM algorithm will converge weakly to its maximizer, and additionally propose a faster algorithm for learning a discretized approximation of the latent distribution. Furthermore, we develop methods to assess goodness of fit for the mixing likelihood which is an area neglected in most mixing distribution estimation problems. We apply our method to the National Alzheimer's Coordination Center Uniform Data Set and show that we can use our method to convert between score measurements and account for the measurement error. We show that this method outperforms standard techniques commonly used in dementia research. Full code is available at https://github.com/SteveJWR/Data-Harmonization-Nonparametric.

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