Intensity Profile Projection: A Framework for Continuous-Time Representation Learning for Dynamic Networks

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

Bibtex Paper


Alexander Modell, Ian Gallagher, Emma Ceccherini, Nick Whiteley, Patrick Rubin-Delanchy


We present a new representation learning framework, Intensity Profile Projection, for continuous-time dynamic network data. Given triples $(i,j,t)$, each representing a time-stamped ($t$) interaction between two entities ($i,j$), our procedure returns a continuous-time trajectory for each node, representing its behaviour over time. The framework consists of three stages: estimating pairwise intensity functions, e.g. via kernel smoothing; learning a projection which minimises a notion of intensity reconstruction error; and constructing evolving node representations via the learned projection. The trajectories satisfy two properties, known as structural and temporal coherence, which we see as fundamental for reliable inference. Moreoever, we develop estimation theory providing tight control on the error of any estimated trajectory, indicating that the representations could even be used in quite noise-sensitive follow-on analyses. The theory also elucidates the role of smoothing as a bias-variance trade-off, and shows how we can reduce the level of smoothing as the signal-to-noise ratio increases on account of the algorithm `borrowing strength' across the network.