Self-Adaptable Point Processes with Nonparametric Time Decays

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Zhimeng Pan, Zheng Wang, Jeff M Phillips, Shandian Zhe


Many applications involve multi-type event data. Understanding the complex influences of the events on each other is critical to discover useful knowledge and to predict future events and their types. Existing methods either ignore or partially account for these influences. Recent works use recurrent neural networks to model the event rate. While being highly expressive, they couple all the temporal dependencies in a black-box and can hardly extract meaningful knowledge. More important, most methods assume an exponential time decay of the influence strength, which is over-simplified and can miss many important strength varying patterns. To overcome these limitations, we propose SPRITE, a $\underline{S}$elf-adaptable $\underline{P}$oint p$\underline{R}$ocess w$\underline{I}$th nonparametric $\underline{T}$ime d$\underline{E}$cays, which can decouple the influences between every pair of the events and capture various time decays of the influence strengths. Specifically, we use an embedding to represent each event type and model the event influence as an unknown function of the embeddings and time span. We derive a general construction that can cover all possible time decaying functions. By placing Gaussian process (GP) priors over the latent functions and using Gauss-Legendre quadrature to obtain the integral in the construction, we can flexibly estimate all kinds of time-decaying influences, without restricting to any specific form or imposing derivative constraints that bring learning difficulties. We then use weight space augmentation of GPs to develop an efficient stochastic variational learning algorithm. We show the advantages of our approach in both the ablation study and real-world applications.