Deep clustering of longitudinal data

02/09/2018
by   Louis Falissard, et al.
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Deep neural networks are a family of computational models that have led to a dramatical improvement of the state of the art in several domains such as image, voice or text analysis. These methods provide a framework to model complex, non-linear interactions in large datasets, and are naturally suited to the analysis of hierarchical data such as, for instance, longitudinal data with the use of recurrent neural networks. In the other hand, cohort studies have become a tool of importance in the research field of epidemiology. In such studies, variables are measured repeatedly over time, to allow the practitioner to study their temporal evolution as trajectories, and, as such, as longitudinal data. This paper investigates the application of the advanced modelling techniques provided by the deep learning framework in the analysis of the longitudinal data provided by cohort studies. Methods: A method for visualizing and clustering longitudinal dataset is proposed, and compared to other widely used approaches to the problem on both real and simulated datasets. Results: The proposed method is shown to be coherent with the preexisting procedures on simple tasks, and to outperform them on more complex tasks such as the partitioning of longitudinal datasets into non-spherical clusters. Conclusion: Deep artificial neural networks can be used to visualize longitudinal data in a low dimensional manifold that is much simpler to interpret than traditional longitudinal plots are. Consequently, practitioners should start considering the use of deep artificial neural networks for the analysis of their longitudinal data in studies to come.

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