Modeling Dynamics of Biological Systems with Deep Generative Neural Networks

Scott Gigante, David van Dijk, Kevin R. Moon, Alexander Strzalkowski, Katie Ferguson, Guy Wolf, Smita Krishnaswamy

Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Biological data often contains measurements of dynamic entities such as cells or organisms in various states of progression. However, biological systems are notoriously difficult to describe analytically due to their many interacting components, and in many cases, the technical challenge of taking longitudinal measurements. This leads to difficulties in studying the features of the dynamics, for examples the drivers of the transition. To address this problem, we present a deep neural network framework we call Dynamics Modeling Network or DyMoN. DyMoN is a neural network framework trained as a deep generative Markov model whose next state is a probability distribution based on the current state. DyMoN is well-suited to the idiosyncrasies of biological data, including noise, sparsity, and the lack of longitudinal measurements in many types of systems. Thus, DyMoN can be trained using probability distributions derived from the data in any way, such as trajectories derived via dimensionality reduction methods, and does not require longitudinal measurements. We show the advantage of learning deep models over shallow models such as Kalman filters and hidden Markov models that do not learn representations of the data, both in terms of learning embeddings of the data and also in terms training efficiency, accuracy and ability to multitask. We perform three case studies of applying DyMoN to different types of biological systems and extracting features of the dynamics in each case by examining the learned model.
  • Keywords: neural networks, markovian dynamics, single-cell biology, calcium imaging, stochastic dynamics, generative models
  • TL;DR: Dynamics Modeling Networks (DyMoN) offer advantages in representation, generation, visualization and feature extraction over shallow learning techniques for modeling stochastic dynamical systems in biology.
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