Ph_D_Dissertation_v6.pdf (9.74 MB)

Inferential GANs and Deep Feature Selection with Applications

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posted on 15.06.2020, 15:00 by Yao Chen
Deep nueral networks (DNNs) have become popular due to their predictive power and flexibility in model fitting. In unsupervised learning, variational autoencoders (VAEs) and generative adverarial networks (GANs) are two most popular and successful generative models. How to provide a unifying framework combining the best of VAEs and GANs in a principled way is a challenging task. In supervised learning, the demand for high-dimensional data analysis has grown significantly, especially in the applications of social networking, bioinformatics, and neuroscience. How to simultaneously approximate the true underlying nonlinear system and identify relevant features based on high-dimensional data (typically with the sample size smaller than the dimension, a.k.a. small-n-large-p) is another challenging task.

In this dissertation, we have provided satisfactory answers for these two challenges. In addition, we have illustrated some promising applications using modern machine learning methods.

In the first chapter, we introduce a novel inferential Wasserstein GAN (iWGAN) model, which is a principled framework to fuse auto-encoders and WGANs. GANs have been impactful on many problems and applications but suffer from unstable training. The Wasserstein GAN (WGAN) leverages the Wasserstein distance to avoid the caveats in the minmax two-player training of GANs but has other defects such as mode collapse and lack of metric to detect the convergence. The iWGAN model jointly learns an encoder network and a generator network motivated by the iterative primal dual optimization process. The encoder network maps the observed samples to the latent space and the generator network maps the samples from the latent space to the data space. We establish the generalization error bound of iWGANs to theoretically justify the performance of iWGANs. We further provide a rigorous probabilistic interpretation of our model under the framework of maximum likelihood estimation. The iWGAN, with a clear stopping criteria, has many advantages over other autoencoder GANs. The empirical experiments show that the iWGAN greatly mitigates the symptom of mode collapse, speeds up the convergence, and is able to provide a measurement of quality check for each individual sample. We illustrate the ability of iWGANs by obtaining a competitive and stable performance with state-of-the-art for benchmark datasets.

In the second chapter, we present a general framework for high-dimensional nonlinear variable selection using deep neural networks under the framework of supervised learning. The network architecture includes both a selection layer and approximation layers. The problem can be cast as a sparsity-constrained optimization with a sparse parameter in the selection layer and other parameters in the approximation layers. This problem is challenging due to the sparse constraint and the nonconvex optimization. We propose a novel algorithm, called Deep Feature Selection, to estimate both the sparse parameter and the other parameters. Theoretically, we establish the algorithm convergence and the selection consistency when the objective function has a Generalized Stable Restricted Hessian. This result provides theoretical justifications of our method and generalizes known results for high-dimensional linear variable selection. Simulations and real data analysis are conducted to demonstrate the superior performance of our method.

In the third chapter, we develop a novel methodology to classify the electrocardiograms (ECGs) to normal, atrial fibrillation and other cardiac dysrhythmias as defined by the Physionet Challenge 2017. More specifically, we use piecewise linear splines for the feature selection and a gradient boosting algorithm for the classifier. In the algorithm, the ECG waveform is fitted by a piecewise linear spline, and morphological features related to the piecewise linear spline coefficients are extracted. XGBoost is used to classify the morphological coefficients and heart rate variability features. The performance of the algorithm was evaluated by the PhysioNet Challenge database (3658 ECGs classified by experts). Our algorithm achieves an average F1 score of 81% for a 10-fold cross validation and also achieved 81% for F1 score on the independent testing set. This score is similar to the top 9th score (81%) in the official phase of the Physionet Challenge 2017.

In the fourth chapter, we introduce a novel region-selection penalty in the framework of image-on-scalar regression to impose sparsity of pixel values and extract active regions simultaneously. This method helps identify regions of interest (ROI) associated with certain disease, which has a great impact on public health. Our penalty combines the Smoothly Clipped Absolute Deviation (SCAD) regularization, enforcing sparsity, and the SCAD of total variation (TV) regularization, enforcing spatial contiguity, into one group, which segments contiguous spatial regions against zero-valued background. Efficient algorithm is based on the alternative direction method of multipliers (ADMM) which decomposes the non-convex problem into two iterative optimization problems with explicit solutions. Another virtue of the proposed method is that a divide and conquer learning algorithm is developed, thereby allowing scaling to large images. Several examples are presented and the experimental results are compared with other state-of-the-art approaches.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy



Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Xiao Wang

Additional Committee Member 2

Chuanhai Liu

Additional Committee Member 3

Lingsong Zhang

Additional Committee Member 4

Anindya Bhadra