Heterogeneous Graphical Granger Causality by Minimum Message Length

Katerina Hlavackova-Schindler, Claudia Plant

The heterogeneous graphical Granger model (HGGM) for causal inference among processes with distributions from an exponential family is efficient in scenarios when the number of time observations is much greater than the number of time series, normally by several orders of magnitude. However, in the case of “short” time series, the inference in HGGM often suffers from overestimation. To remedy this, we use the minimum message length principle (MML) to determinate the causal connections in the HGGM. The minimum message length as a Bayesian information-theoretic method for statistical model selection applies Occam’s razor in the following way: even when models are equal in their measure of fit-accuracy to the observed data, the one generating the most concise explanation of data is more likely to be correct. Based on the dispersion coefficient of the target time series and on the initial maximum likelihood estimates of the regression coefficients, we propose a minimum message length criterion to select the subset of causally connected time series with each target time series and derive its form for various exponential distributions. We propose two algorithms—the genetic-type algorithm (HMMLGA) and exHMML to find the subset. We demonstrated the superiority of both algorithms in synthetic experiments with respect to the comparison methods Lingam, HGGM and statistical framework Granger causality (SFGC). In the real data experiments, we used the methods to discriminate between pregnancy and labor phase using electrohysterogram data of Islandic mothers from Physionet databasis. We further analysed the Austrian climatological time measurements and their temporal interactions in rain and sunny days scenarios. In both experiments, the results of HMMLGA had the most realistic interpretation with respect to the comparison methods. We provide our code in Matlab. To our best knowledge, this is the first work using the MML principle for causal inference in HGGM.

Research Group Data Mining and Machine Learning, Research Network Data Science
External organisation(s)
Czech Academy of Sciences
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
102033 Data mining, 102001 Artificial intelligence, 101028 Mathematical modelling, 101024 Probability theory
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