COPA: Constrained PARAFAC2 for Sparse & Large Datasets

PARAFAC2 has demonstrated success in modeling irregular tensors, where the tensor dimensions vary across one of the modes. An example scenario is modeling treatments across a set of patients with the varying number of medical encounters over time. Despite recent improvements on unconstrained PARAFAC2, its model factors are usually dense and sensitive to noise which limits their interpretability. As a result, the following open challenges remain: a) various modeling constraints, such as temporal smoothness, sparsity and non-negativity, are needed to be imposed for interpretable temporal modeling and b) a scalable approach is required to support those constraints efficiently for large datasets. To tackle these challenges, we propose a {\it CO}nstrained {\it PA}RAFAC2 (COPA) method, which carefully incorporates optimization constraints such as temporal smoothness, sparsity, and non-negativity in the resulting factors. To efficiently support all those constraints, COPA adopts a hybrid optimization framework using alternating optimization and alternating direction method of multiplier (AO-ADMM). As evaluated on large electronic health record (EHR) datasets with hundreds of thousands of patients, COPA achieves significant speedups (up to 36 times faster) over prior PARAFAC2 approaches that only attempt to handle a subset of the constraints that COPA enables. Overall, our method outperforms all the baselines attempting to handle a subset of the constraints in terms of speed, while achieving the same level of accuracy. Through a case study on temporal phenotyping of medically complex children, we demonstrate how the constraints imposed by COPA reveal concise phenotypes and meaningful temporal profiles of patients. The clinical interpretation of both the phenotypes and the temporal profiles was confirmed by a medical expert.

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