Relational Dependency Networks

Jennifer Neville, David Jensen; 8(Mar):653--692, 2007.


Recent work on graphical models for relational data has demonstrated significant improvements in classification and inference when models represent the dependencies among instances. Despite its use in conventional statistical models, the assumption of instance independence is contradicted by most relational data sets. For example, in citation data there are dependencies among the topics of a paper's references, and in genomic data there are dependencies among the functions of interacting proteins. In this paper, we present relational dependency networks (RDNs), graphical models that are capable of expressing and reasoning with such dependencies in a relational setting. We discuss RDNs in the context of relational Bayes networks and relational Markov networks and outline the relative strengths of RDNs---namely, the ability to represent cyclic dependencies, simple methods for parameter estimation, and efficient structure learning techniques. The strengths of RDNs are due to the use of pseudolikelihood learning techniques, which estimate an efficient approximation of the full joint distribution. We present learned RDNs for a number of real-world data sets and evaluate the models in a prediction context, showing that RDNs identify and exploit cyclic relational dependencies to achieve significant performance gains over conventional conditional models. In addition, we use synthetic data to explore model performance under various relational data characteristics, showing that RDN learning and inference techniques are accurate over a wide range of conditions.


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