Inverse-Weighted Survival Games

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

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Xintian Han, Mark Goldstein, Aahlad Puli, Thomas Wies, Adler Perotte, Rajesh Ranganath


Deep models trained through maximum likelihood have achieved state-of-the-art results for survival analysis. Despite this training scheme, practitioners evaluate models under other criteria, such as binary classification losses at a chosen set of time horizons, e.g. Brier score (BS) and Bernoulli log likelihood (BLL). Models trained with maximum likelihood may have poor BS or BLL since maximum likelihood does not directly optimize these criteria. Directly optimizing criteria like BS requires inverse-weighting by the censoring distribution. However, estimating the censoring model under these metrics requires inverse-weighting by the failure distribution. The objective for each model requires the other, but neither are known. To resolve this dilemma, we introduce Inverse-Weighted Survival Games. In these games, objectives for each model are built from re-weighted estimates featuring the other model, where the latter is held fixed during training. When the loss is proper, we show that the games always have the true failure and censoring distributions as a stationary point. This means models in the game do not leave the correct distributions once reached. We construct one case where this stationary point is unique. We show that these games optimize BS on simulations and then apply these principles on real world cancer and critically-ill patient data.