Sparsistent Learning of Varying-coefficient Models with Structural Changes

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22 (NIPS 2009)

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Mladen Kolar, Le Song, Eric Xing


To estimate the changing structure of a varying-coefficient varying-structure (VCVS) model remains an important and open problem in dynamic system modelling, which includes learning trajectories of stock prices, or uncovering the topology of an evolving gene network. In this paper, we investigate sparsistent learning of a sub-family of this model --- piecewise constant VCVS models. We analyze two main issues in this problem: inferring time points where structural changes occur and estimating model structure (i.e., model selection) on each of the constant segments. We propose a two-stage adaptive procedure, which first identifies jump points of structural changes and then identifies relevant covariates to a response on each of the segments. We provide an asymptotic analysis of the procedure, showing that with the increasing sample size, number of structural changes, and number of variables, the true model can be consistently selected. We demonstrate the performance of the method on synthetic data and apply it to the brain computer interface dataset. We also consider how this applies to structure estimation of time-varying probabilistic graphical models.