Network Regression with Graph Laplacians

Yidong Zhou, Hans-Georg Müller.

Year: 2022, Volume: 23, Issue: 320, Pages: 1−41


Network data are increasingly available in various research fields, motivating statistical analysis for populations of networks, where a network as a whole is viewed as a data point. The study of how a network changes as a function of covariates is often of paramount interest. However, due to the non-Euclidean nature of networks, basic statistical tools available for scalar and vector data are no longer applicable. This motivates an extension of the notion of regression to the case where responses are network data. Here we propose to adopt conditional Fréchet means implemented as M-estimators that depend on weights derived from both global and local least squares regression, extending the Fréchet regression framework to networks that are quantified by their graph Laplacians. The challenge is to characterize the space of graph Laplacians to justify the application of Fréchet regression. This characterization then leads to asymptotic rates of convergence for the corresponding M-estimators by applying empirical process methods. We demonstrate the usefulness and good practical performance of the proposed framework with simulations and with network data arising from resting-state fMRI in neuroimaging, as well as New York taxi records.

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