Trajectory Inference via Mean-field Langevin in Path Space

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Lénaïc Chizat, Stephen Zhang, Matthieu Heitz, Geoffrey Schiebinger


Trajectory inference aims at recovering the dynamics of a population from snapshots of its temporal marginals. To solve this task, a min-entropy estimator relative to the Wiener measure in path space was introduced in [Lavenant et al., 2021], and shown to consistently recover the dynamics of a large class of drift-diffusion processes from the solution of an infinite dimensional convex optimization problem. In this paper, we introduce a grid-free algorithm to compute this estimator. Our method consists in a family of point clouds (one per snapshot) coupled via Schrödinger bridges which evolve with noisy gradient descent. We study the mean-field limit of the dynamics and prove its global convergence to the desired estimator. Overall, this leads to an inference method with end-to-end theoretical guarantees that solves an interpretable model for trajectory inference. We also present how to adapt the method to deal with mass variations, a useful extension when dealing with single cell RNA-sequencing data where cells can branch and die.