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Leveraging Domain Knowledge in Multitask Bayesian Network Structure Learning

Last modified: 2012-07-14

#### Abstract

Network structure learning algorithms have aided network discovery in fields such as bioinformatics, neuroscience, ecology and social science. However, challenges remain in learning informative networks for related sets of tasks because the search space of Bayesian network structures is characterized by large basins of approximately equivalent solutions. Multitask algorithms select a set of networks that are near each other in the search space, rather than a score-equivalent set of networks chosen from independent regions of the space. This selection preference allows a domain expert to see only differences supported by the data. However, the usefulness of these algorithms for scientific datasets is limited because existing algorithms naively assume that all pairs of tasks are equally related. We introduce a framework that relaxes this assumption by incorporating domain knowledge about task-relatedness into the learning objective. Using our framework, we introduce the first multitask Bayesian network algorithm that leverages domain knowledge about the relatedness of tasks. We use our algorithm to explore the effect of task-relatedness on network discovery and show that our algorithm learns networks that are closer to ground truth than naive algorithms and that our algorithm discovers patterns that are interesting.

#### Keywords

multitask learning; graphical models; transfer learning

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