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Transfer Learning in High-dimensional Semi-parametric Graphical Models with Application to Brain Connectivity Analysis

by   Yong He, et al.
Shandong University
Washington University in St Louis

Transfer learning has drawn growing attention with the target of improving statistical efficiency of one study (dataset) by digging information from similar and related auxiliary studies (datasets). In the article, we consider transfer learning problem in estimating undirected semi-parametric graphical model. We propose an algorithm called Trans-Copula-CLIME for estimating undirected graphical model while digging information from similar auxiliary studies, characterizing the similarity between the target graph and each auxiliary graph by the sparsity of a divergence matrix. The proposed method relaxes the restrictive assumption that data follows a Gaussian distribution, which deviates from reality for the fMRI dataset related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) considered here. Nonparametric rank-based correlation coefficient estimators are utilized in the Trans-Copula-CLIME procedure to achieve robustness against normality. We establish the convergence rate of the Trans-Copula-CLIME estimator under some mild conditions, which demonstrates that when the similarity between the auxiliary studies and the target study is sufficiently high and the number of informative auxiliary samples is sufficiently large, then the Trans-Copula-CLIME estimator shows great advantage over the existing non-transfer-learning ones. Simulation studies also show that Trans-Copula-CLIME estimator has better performance especially when data are not from Gaussian distribution. At last, the proposed method is applied to infer functional brain connectivity pattern for ADHD patients in the target Beijing site by leveraging the fMRI datasets from New York site.


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