Localizing differentially evolving covariance structures via scan statistics

Ronak Mehta, Hyunwoo J. Kim, Shulei Wang, Sterling C. Johnson, Ming Yuan, Vikas Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent results in coupled or temporal graphical models offer schemes for estimating the relationship structure between features when the data come from related (but distinct) longitudinal sources. A novel application of these ideas is for analyzing group-level differences, i.e., in identifying if trends of estimated objects (e.g., covariance or precision matrices) are different across disparate conditions (e.g., gender or disease). Often, poor effect sizes make detecting the differential signal over the full set of features difficult: for example, dependencies between only a subset of features may manifest differently across groups. In this work, we first give a parametric model for estimating trends in the space of SPD matrices as a function of one or more covariates. We then generalize scan statistics to graph structures, to search over distinct subsets of features (graph partitions) whose temporal dependency structure may show statistically significant groupwise differences. We theoretically analyze the Family Wise Error Rate (FWER) and bounds on Type 1 and Type 2 error. Evaluating on U.S. census data, we identify groups of states with cultural and legal overlap related to baby name trends and drug usage. On a cohort of individuals with risk factors for Alzheimer's disease (but otherwise cognitively healthy), we find scientifically interesting group differences where the default analysis, i.e., models estimated on the full graph, do not survive reasonable significance thresholds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-398
Number of pages42
JournalQuarterly of Applied Mathematics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics


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