Temporal Positive-unlabeled Learning for Biomedical Hypothesis Generation via Risk Estimation

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Uchenna Akujuobi, Jun Chen, Mohamed Elhoseiny, Michael Spranger, Xiangliang Zhang


<p>Understanding the relationships between biomedical terms like viruses, drugs, and symptoms is essential in the fight against diseases. Many attempts have been made to introduce the use of machine learning to the scientific process of hypothesis generation (HG), which refers to the discovery of meaningful implicit connections between biomedical terms. However, most existing methods fail to truly capture the temporal dynamics of scientific term relations and also assume unobserved connections to be irrelevant (i.e., in a positive-negative (PN) learning setting). To break these limits, we formulate this HG problem as future connectivity prediction task on a dynamic attributed graph via positive-unlabeled (PU) learning. Then, the key is to capture the temporal evolution of node pair (term pair) relations from just the positive and unlabeled data. We propose a variational inference model to estimate the positive prior, and incorporate it in the learning of node pair embeddings, which are then used for link prediction. Experiment results on real-world biomedical term relationship datasets and case study analyses on a COVID-19 dataset validate the effectiveness of the proposed model.</p>