Structure Learning with Side Information: Sample Complexity

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Saurabh Sihag, Ali Tajer


Graphical models encode the stochastic dependencies among random variables (RVs). The vertices represent the RVs, and the edges signify the conditional dependencies among the RVs. Structure learning is the process of inferring the edges by observing realizations of the RVs, and it has applications in a wide range of technological, social, and biological networks. Learning the structure of graphs when the vertices are treated in isolation from inferential information known about them is well-investigated. In a wide range of domains, however, often there exist additional inferred knowledge about the structure, which can serve as valuable side information. For instance, the gene networks that represent different subtypes of the same cancer share similar edges across all subtypes and also have exclusive edges corresponding to each subtype, rendering partially similar graphical models for gene expression in different cancer subtypes. Hence, an inferential decision regarding a gene network can serve as side information for inferring other related gene networks. When such side information is leveraged judiciously, it can translate to significant improvement in structure learning. Leveraging such side information can be abstracted as inferring structures of distinct graphical models that are {\sl partially} similar. This paper focuses on Ising graphical models, and considers the problem of simultaneously learning the structures of two {\sl partially} similar graphs, where any inference about the structure of one graph offers side information for the other graph. The bounded edge subclass of Ising models is considered, and necessary conditions (information-theoretic ), as well as sufficient conditions (algorithmic) for the sample complexity for achieving a bounded probability of error, are established. Furthermore, specific regimes are identified in which the necessary and sufficient conditions coincide, rendering the optimal sample complexity.