Diet Networks: Thin Parameters for Fat Genomics

Adriana Romero, Pierre Luc Carrier, Akram Erraqabi, Tristan Sylvain, Alex Auvolat, Etienne Dejoie, Marc-André Legault, Marie-Pierre Dubé, Julie G. Hussin, Yoshua Bengio

Nov 04, 2016 (modified: Mar 03, 2017) ICLR 2017 conference submission readers: everyone
  • Abstract: Learning tasks such as those involving genomic data often poses a serious challenge: the number of input features can be orders of magnitude larger than the number of training examples, making it difficult to avoid overfitting, even when using the known regularization techniques. We focus here on tasks in which the input is a description of the genetic variation specific to a patient, the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), yielding millions of ternary inputs. Improving the ability of deep learning to handle such datasets could have an important impact in medical research, more specifically in precision medicine, where high-dimensional data regarding a particular patient is used to make predictions of interest. Even though the amount of data for such tasks is increasing, this mismatch between the number of examples and the number of inputs remains a concern. Naive implementations of classifier neural networks involve a huge number of free parameters in their first layer (number of input features times number of hidden units): each input feature is associated with as many parameters as there are hidden units. We propose a novel neural network parametrization which considerably reduces the number of free parameters. It is based on the idea that we can first learn or provide a distributed representation for each input feature (e.g. for each position in the genome where variations are observed in data), and then learn (with another neural network called the parameter prediction network) how to map a feature's distributed representation (based on the feature's identity not its value) to the vector of parameters specific to that feature in the classifier neural network (the weights which link the value of the feature to each of the hidden units). This approach views the problem of producing the parameters associated with each feature as a multi-task learning problem. We show experimentally on a population stratification task of interest to medical studies that the proposed approach can significantly reduce both the number of parameters and the error rate of the classifier.
  • TL;DR: Drastically reducing the number of parameters, when the number of input features is orders of magnitude larger than the number of training examples, such as in genomics.
  • Paperhash: romero|diet_networks_thin_parameters_for_fat_genomics
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  • Keywords: Deep learning, Unsupervised Learning, Supervised Learning, Applications