ARTree: A Deep Autoregressive Model for Phylogenetic Inference

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Tianyu Xie, Cheng Zhang


Designing flexible probabilistic models over tree topologies is important for developing efficient phylogenetic inference methods. To do that, previous works often leverage the similarity of tree topologies via hand-engineered heuristic features which would require domain expertise and may suffer from limited approximation capability. In this paper, we propose a deep autoregressive model for phylogenetic inference based on graph neural networks (GNNs), called ARTree. By decomposing a tree topology into a sequence of leaf node addition operations and modeling the involved conditional distributions based on learnable topological features via GNNs, ARTree can provide a rich family of distributions over tree topologies that have simple sampling algorithms, without using heuristic features. We demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of our method on a benchmark of challenging real data tree topology density estimation and variational Bayesian phylogenetic inference problems.