UNT Theses and Dissertations - 170 Matching Results

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Automated GUI Tests Generation for Android Apps Using Q-learning

Description: Mobile applications are growing in popularity and pose new problems in the area of software testing. In particular, mobile applications heavily depend upon user interactions and a dynamically changing environment of system events. In this thesis, we focus on user-driven events and use Q-learning, a reinforcement machine learning algorithm, to generate tests for Android applications under test (AUT). We implement a framework that automates the generation of GUI test cases by using our Q-learning approach and compare it to a uniform random (UR) implementation. A novel feature of our approach is that we generate user-driven event sequences through the GUI, without the source code or the model of the AUT. Hence, considerable amount of cost and time are saved by avoiding the need for model generation for generating the tests. Our results show that the systematic path exploration used by Q-learning results in higher average code coverage in comparison to the uniform random approach.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Koppula, Sreedevi
Partner: UNT Libraries

Content and Temporal Analysis of Communications to Predict Task Cohesion in Software Development Global Teams

Description: Virtual teams in industry are increasingly being used to develop software, create products, and accomplish tasks. However, analyzing those collaborations under same-time/different-place conditions is well-known to be difficult. In order to overcome some of these challenges, this research was concerned with the study of collaboration-based, content-based and temporal measures and their ability to predict cohesion within global software development projects. Messages were collected from three software development projects that involved students from two different countries. The similarities and quantities of these interactions were computed and analyzed at individual and group levels. Results of interaction-based metrics showed that the collaboration variables most related to Task Cohesion were Linguistic Style Matching and Information Exchange. The study also found that Information Exchange rate and Reply rate have a significant and positive correlation to Task Cohesion, a factor used to describe participants' engagement in the global software development process. This relation was also found at the Group level. All these results suggest that metrics based on rate can be very useful for predicting cohesion in virtual groups. Similarly, content features based on communication categories were used to improve the identification of Task Cohesion levels. This model showed mixed results, since only Work similarity and Social rate were found to be correlated with Task Cohesion. This result can be explained by how a group's cohesiveness is often associated with fairness and trust, and that these two factors are often achieved by increased social and work communications. Also, at a group-level, all models were found correlated to Task Cohesion, specifically, Similarity+Rate, which suggests that models that include social and work communication categories are also good predictors of team cohesiveness. Finally, temporal interaction similarity measures were calculated to assess their prediction capabilities in a global setting. Results showed a significant negative correlation between the Pacing Rate and ...
Date: May 2017
Creator: Castro Hernandez, Alberto
Partner: UNT Libraries

Determining Whether and When People Participate in the Events They Tweet About

Description: This work describes an approach to determine whether people participate in the events they tweet about. Specifically, we determine whether people are participants in events with respect to the tweet timestamp. We target all events expressed by verbs in tweets, including past, present and events that may occur in future. We define event participant as people directly involved in an event regardless of whether they are the agent, recipient or play another role. We present an annotation effort, guidelines and quality analysis with 1,096 event mentions. We discuss the label distributions and event behavior in the annotated corpus. We also explain several features used and a standard supervised machine learning approach to automatically determine if and when the author is a participant of the event in the tweet. We discuss trends in the results obtained and devise important conclusions.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Sanagavarapu, Krishna Chaitanya
Partner: UNT Libraries

Exploring Simscape™ Modeling for Piezoelectric Sensor Based Energy Harvester

Description: This work presents an investigation of a piezoelectric sensor based energy harvesting system, which collects energy from the surrounding environment. Increasing costs and scarcity of fossil fuels is a great concern today for supplying power to electronic devices. Furthermore, generating electricity by ordinary methods is a complicated process. Disposal of chemical batteries and cables is polluting the nature every day. Due to these reasons, research on energy harvesting from renewable resources has become mandatory in order to achieve improved methods and strategies of generating and storing electricity. Many low power devices being used in everyday life can be powered by harvesting energy from natural energy resources. Power overhead and power energy efficiency is of prime concern in electronic circuits. In this work, an energy harvester is modeled and simulated in Simscape™ for the functional analysis and comparison of achieved outcomes with previous work. Results demonstrate that the harvester produces power in the 0 μW to 100 μW range, which is an adequate amount to provide supply to low power devices. Power efficiency calculations also demonstrate that the implemented harvester is capable of generating and storing power for low power pervasive applications.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Dhayal, Vandana Sultan Singh
Partner: UNT Libraries

Extracting Useful Information from Social Media during Disaster Events

Description: In recent years, social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have emerged as effective tools for broadcasting messages worldwide during disaster events. With millions of messages posted through these services during such events, it has become imperative to identify valuable information that can help the emergency responders to develop effective relief efforts and aid victims. Many studies implied that the role of social media during disasters is invaluable and can be incorporated into emergency decision-making process. However, due to the "big data" nature of social media, it is very labor-intensive to employ human resources to sift through social media posts and categorize/classify them as useful information. Hence, there is a growing need for machine intelligence to automate the process of extracting useful information from the social media data during disaster events. This dissertation addresses the following questions: In a social media stream of messages, what is the useful information to be extracted that can help emergency response organizations to become more situationally aware during and following a disaster? What are the features (or patterns) that can contribute to automatically identifying messages that are useful during disasters? We explored a wide variety of features in conjunction with supervised learning algorithms to automatically identify messages that are useful during disaster events. The feature design includes sentiment features to extract the geo-mapped sentiment expressed in tweets, as well as tweet-content and user detail features to predict the likelihood of the information contained in a tweet to be quickly spread in the network. Further experimentation is carried out to see how these features help in identifying the informative tweets and filter out those tweets that are conversational in nature.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Neppalli, Venkata Kishore
Partner: UNT Libraries

Object Recognition Using Scale-Invariant Chordiogram

Description: This thesis describes an approach for object recognition using the chordiogram shape-based descriptor. Global shape representations are highly susceptible to clutter generated due to the background or other irrelevant objects in real-world images. To overcome the problem, we aim to extract precise object shape using superpixel segmentation, perceptual grouping, and connected components. The employed shape descriptor chordiogram is based on geometric relationships of chords generated from the pairs of boundary points of an object. The chordiogram descriptor applies holistic properties of the shape and also proven suitable for object detection and digit recognition mechanisms. Additionally, it is translation invariant and robust to shape deformations. In spite of such excellent properties, chordiogram is not scale-invariant. To this end, we propose scale invariant chordiogram descriptors and intend to achieve a similar performance before and after applying scale invariance. Our experiments show that we achieve similar performance with and without scale invariance for silhouettes and real world object images. We also show experiments at different scales to confirm that we obtain scale invariance for chordiogram.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Tonge, Ashwini Kishor
Partner: UNT Libraries

Probabilistic Analysis of Contracting Ebola Virus Using Contextual Intelligence

Description: The outbreak of the Ebola virus was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Due to the complex nature of the outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had created interim guidance for monitoring people potentially exposed to Ebola and for evaluating their intended travel and restricting the movements of carriers when needed. Tools to evaluate the risk of individuals and groups of individuals contracting the disease could mitigate the growing anxiety and fear. The goal is to understand and analyze the nature of risk an individual would face when he/she comes in contact with a carrier. This thesis presents a tool that makes use of contextual data intelligence to predict the risk factor of individuals who come in contact with the carrier.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Gopala Krishnan, Arjun
Partner: UNT Libraries

Influence of Underlying Random Walk Types in Population Models on Resulting Social Network Types and Epidemiological Dynamics

Description: Epidemiologists rely on human interaction networks for determining states and dynamics of disease propagations in populations. However, such networks are empirical snapshots of the past. It will greatly benefit if human interaction networks are statistically predicted and dynamically created while an epidemic is in progress. We develop an application framework for the generation of human interaction networks and running epidemiological processes utilizing research on human mobility patterns and agent-based modeling. The interaction networks are dynamically constructed by incorporating different types of Random Walks and human rules of engagements. We explore the characteristics of the created network and compare them with the known theoretical and empirical graphs. The dependencies of epidemic dynamics and their outcomes on patterns and parameters of human motion and motives are encountered and presented through this research. This work specifically describes how the types and parameters of random walks define properties of generated graphs. We show that some configurations of the system of agents in random walk can produce network topologies with properties similar to small-world networks. Our goal is to find sets of mobility patterns that lead to empirical-like networks. The possibility of phase transitions in the graphs due to changes in the parameterization of agent walks is the focus of this research as this knowledge can lead to the possibility of disruptions to disease diffusions in populations. This research shall facilitate work of public health researchers to predict the magnitude of an epidemic and estimate resources required for mitigation.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Kolgushev, Oleg Mikhailovich
Partner: UNT Libraries

Infusing Automatic Question Generation with Natural Language Understanding

Description: Automatically generating questions from text for educational purposes is an active research area in natural language processing. The automatic question generation system accompanying this dissertation is MARGE, which is a recursive acronym for: MARGE automatically reads generates and evaluates. MARGE generates questions from both individual sentences and the passage as a whole, and is the first question generation system to successfully generate meaningful questions from textual units larger than a sentence. Prior work in automatic question generation from text treats a sentence as a string of constituents to be rearranged into as many questions as allowed by English grammar rules. Consequently, such systems overgenerate and create mainly trivial questions. Further, none of these systems to date has been able to automatically determine which questions are meaningful and which are trivial. This is because the research focus has been placed on NLG at the expense of NLU. In contrast, the work presented here infuses the questions generation process with natural language understanding. From the input text, MARGE creates a meaning analysis representation for each sentence in a passage via the DeconStructure algorithm presented in this work. Questions are generated from sentence meaning analysis representations using templates. The generated questions are automatically evaluated for question quality and importance via a ranking algorithm.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Mazidi, Karen
Partner: UNT Libraries

Real Time Assessment of a Video Game Player's State of Mind Using Off-the-Shelf Electroencephalography

Description: The focus of this research is on the development of a real time application that uses a low cost EEG headset to measure a player's state of mind while they play a video game. Using data collected using the Emotiv EPOC headset, various EEG processing techniques are tested to find ways of measuring a person's engagement and arousal levels. The ability to measure a person's engagement and arousal levels provide an opportunity to develop a model that monitor a person's flow while playing video games. Identifying when certain events occur, like when the player dies, will make it easier to identify when a player has left a state of flow. The real time application Brainwave captures data from the wireless Emotiv EPOC headset. Brainwave converts the raw EEG data into more meaningful brainwave band frequencies. Utilizing the brainwave frequencies the program trains multiple machine learning algorithms with data designed to identify when the player dies. Brainwave runs while the player plays through a video gaming monitoring their engagement and arousal levels for changes that cause the player to leave a state of flow. Brainwave reports to researchers and developers when the player dies along with the identification of the players exit of the state of flow.
Date: December 2016
Creator: McMahan, Timothy
Partner: UNT Libraries

Simulink Based Modeling of a Multi Global Navigation Satellite System

Description: The objective of this thesis is to design a model for a multi global navigation satellite system using Simulink. It explains a design procedure which includes the models for transmitter and receiver for two different navigation systems. To overcome the problem, where less number of satellites are visible to determine location degrades the performance of any positioning system significantly, this research has done to make use of multi GNSS satellite signals in one navigation receiver.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Mukka, Nagaraju
Partner: UNT Libraries

Evaluation Techniques and Graph-Based Algorithms for Automatic Summarization and Keyphrase Extraction

Description: Automatic text summarization and keyphrase extraction are two interesting areas of research which extend along natural language processing and information retrieval. They have recently become very popular because of their wide applicability. Devising generic techniques for these tasks is challenging due to several issues. Yet we have a good number of intelligent systems performing the tasks. As different systems are designed with different perspectives, evaluating their performances with a generic strategy is crucial. It has also become immensely important to evaluate the performances with minimal human effort. In our work, we focus on designing a relativized scale for evaluating different algorithms. This is our major contribution which challenges the traditional approach of working with an absolute scale. We consider the impact of some of the environment variables (length of the document, references, and system-generated outputs) on the performance. Instead of defining some rigid lengths, we show how to adjust to their variations. We prove a mathematically sound baseline that should work for all kinds of documents. We emphasize automatically determining the syntactic well-formedness of the structures (sentences). We also propose defining an equivalence class for each unit (e.g. word) instead of the exact string matching strategy. We show an evaluation approach that considers the weighted relatedness of multiple references to adjust to the degree of disagreements between the gold standards. We publish the proposed approach as a free tool so that other systems can use it. We have also accumulated a dataset (scientific articles) with a reference summary and keyphrases for each document. Our approach is applicable not only for evaluating single-document based tasks but also for evaluating multiple-document based tasks. We have tested our evaluation method for three intrinsic tasks (taken from DUC 2004 conference), and in all three cases, it correlates positively with ROUGE. Based on our experiments ...
Date: August 2016
Creator: Hamid, Fahmida
Partner: UNT Libraries

Modeling and Simulation of the Vector-Borne Dengue Disease and the Effects of Regional Variation of Temperature in the Disease Prevalence in Homogenous and Heterogeneous Human Populations

Description: The history of mitigation programs to contain vector-borne diseases is a story of successes and failures. Due to the complex interplay among multiple factors that determine disease dynamics, the general principles for timely and specific intervention for incidence reduction or eradication of life-threatening diseases has yet to be determined. This research discusses computational methods developed to assist in the understanding of complex relationships affecting vector-borne disease dynamics. A computational framework to assist public health practitioners with exploring the dynamics of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue in homogenous and heterogeneous populations, has been conceived, designed, and implemented. The framework integrates a stochastic computational model of interactions to simulate horizontal disease transmission. The intent of the computational modeling has been the integration of stochasticity during simulation of the disease progression while reducing the number of necessary interactions to simulate a disease outbreak. While there are improvements in the computational time reducing the number of interactions needed for simulating disease dynamics, the realization of interactions can remain computationally expensive. Using multi-threading technology to improve performance upon the original computational model, multi-threading experimental results have been tested and reported. In addition, to the contact model, the modeling of biological processes specific to the corresponding pathogen-carrier vector to increase the specificity of the vector-borne disease has been integrated. Last, automation for requesting, retrieving, parsing, and storing specific weather data and geospatial information from federal agencies to study the differences between homogenous and heterogeneous populations has been implemented.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Bravo-Salgado, Angel D
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Empirical Study of How Novice Programmers Use the Web

Description: Students often use the web as a source of help for problems that they encounter on programming assignments.In this work, we seek to understand how students use the web to search for help on their assignments.We used a mixed methods approach with 344 students who complete a survey and 41 students who participate in a focus group meetings and helped in recording data about their search habits.The survey reveals data about student reported search habits while the focus group uses a web browser plug-in to record actual search patterns.We examine the results collectively and as broken down by class year.Survey results show that at least 2/3 of the students from each class year rely on search engines to locate resources for help with their programming bugs in at least half of their assignments;search habits vary by class year;and the value of different types of resources such as tutorials and forums varies by class year.Focus group results exposes the high frequency web sites used by the students in solving their programming assignments.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Tula, Naveen
Partner: UNT Libraries

Exploring Analog and Digital Design Using the Open-Source Electric VLSI Design System

Description: The design of VLSI electronic circuits can be achieved at many different abstraction levels starting from system behavior to the most detailed, physical layout level. As the number of transistors in VLSI circuits is increasing, the complexity of the design is also increasing, and it is now beyond human ability to manage. Hence CAD (Computer Aided design) or EDA (Electronic Design Automation) tools are involved in the design. EDA or CAD tools automate the design, verification and testing of these VLSI circuits. In today’s market, there are many EDA tools available. However, they are very expensive and require high-performance platforms. One of the key challenges today is to select appropriate CAD or EDA tools which are open-source for academic purposes. This thesis provides a detailed examination of an open-source EDA tool called Electric VLSI Design system. An excellent and efficient CAD tool useful for students and teachers to implement ideas by modifying the source code, Electric fulfills these requirements. This thesis' primary objective is to explain the Electric software features and architecture and to provide various digital and analog designs that are implemented by this software for educational purposes. Since the choice of an EDA tool is based on the efficiency and functions that it can provide, this thesis explains all the analysis and synthesis tools that electric provides and how efficient they are. Hence, this thesis is of benefit for students and teachers that choose Electric as their open-source EDA tool for educational purposes.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Aluru, Gunasekhar
Partner: UNT Libraries

Simulink(R) Based Design and Implementation of a Solar Power Based Mobile Charger

Description: Electrical energy is used at approximately the rate of 15 Terawatts world-wide. Generating this much energy has become a primary concern for all nations. There are many ways of generating energy among which the most commonly used are non-renewable and will extinct much sooner than expected. Very active research is going on both to increase the use of renewable energy sources and to use the available energy with more efficiency. Among these sources, solar energy is being considered as the most abundant and has received high attention. The mobile phone has become one of the basic needs of modern life, with almost every human being having one.Individually a mobile phone consumes little power but collectively this becomes very large. This consideration motivated the research undertaken in this masters thesis. The objective of this thesis is to design a model for solar power based charging circuits for mobile phone using Simulink(R). This thesis explains a design procedure of solar power based mobile charger circuit using Simulink(R) which includes the models for the photo-voltaic array, maximum power point tracker, pulse width modulator, DC-DC converter and a battery.The first part of the thesis concentrates on electron level behavior of a solar cell, its structure and its electrical model.The second part is to design an array of solar cells to generate the desired output.Finally, the third part is to design a DC-DC converter which can stabilize and provide the required input to the battery with the help of the maximum power point tracker and pulse width modulation.The obtained DC-DC converter is adjustable to meet the requirements of the battery. This design is aimed at charging a lithium ion battery with nominal voltage of 3.7 V, which can be taken as baseline to charge different types of batteries with different nominal voltages.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Mukka, Manoj Kumar
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Accelerometer-based Gesture Recognition System for a Tactical Communications Application

Description: In modern society, computers are primarily interacted with via keyboards, touch screens, voice recognition, video analysis, and many others. For certain applications, these methods may be the most efficient interface. However, there are applications that we can conceive where a more natural interface could be convenient and connect humans and computers in a more intuitive and natural way. These applications are gesture recognition systems and range from the interpretation of sign language by a computer to virtual reality control. This Thesis proposes a gesture recognition system that primarily uses accelerometers to capture gestures from a tactical communications application. A segmentation algorithm is developed based on the accelerometer energy to segment these gestures from an input sequence. Using signal processing and machine learning techniques, the segments are reduced to mathematical features and classified with support vector machines. Experimental results show that the system achieves an overall gesture recognition accuracy of 98.9%. Additional methods, such as non-gesture recognition/suppression, are also proposed and tested.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Tidwell, Robert S., Jr.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Detection of Ulcerative Colitis Severity and Enhancement of Informative Frame Filtering Using Texture Analysis in Colonoscopy Videos

Description: There are several types of disorders that affect our colon’s ability to function properly such as colorectal cancer, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome and colonic polyps. Automatic detection of these diseases would inform the endoscopist of possible sub-optimal inspection during the colonoscopy procedure as well as save time during post-procedure evaluation. But existing systems only detects few of those disorders like colonic polyps. In this dissertation, we address the automatic detection of another important disorder called ulcerative colitis. We propose a novel texture feature extraction technique to detect the severity of ulcerative colitis in block, image, and video levels. We also enhance the current informative frame filtering methods by detecting water and bubble frames using our proposed technique. Our feature extraction algorithm based on accumulation of pixel value difference provides better accuracy at faster speed than the existing methods making it highly suitable for real-time systems. We also propose a hybrid approach in which our feature method is combined with existing feature method(s) to provide even better accuracy. We extend the block and image level detection method to video level severity score calculation and shot segmentation. Also, the proposed novel feature extraction method can detect water and bubble frames in colonoscopy videos with very high accuracy in significantly less processing time even when clustering is used to reduce the training size by 10 times.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Dahal, Ashok
Partner: UNT Libraries

Adaptive Power Management for Autonomic Resource Configuration in Large-scale Computer Systems

Description: In order to run and manage resource-intensive high-performance applications, large-scale computing and storage platforms have been evolving rapidly in various domains in both academia and industry. The energy expenditure consumed to operate and maintain these cloud computing infrastructures is a major factor to influence the overall profit and efficiency for most cloud service providers. Moreover, considering the mitigation of environmental damage from excessive carbon dioxide emission, the amount of power consumed by enterprise-scale data centers should be constrained for protection of the environment.Generally speaking, there exists a trade-off between power consumption and application performance in large-scale computing systems and how to balance these two factors has become an important topic for researchers and engineers in cloud and HPC communities. Therefore, minimizing the power usage while satisfying the Service Level Agreements have become one of the most desirable objectives in cloud computing research and implementation. Since the fundamental feature of the cloud computing platform is hosting workloads with a variety of characteristics in a consolidated and on-demand manner, it is demanding to explore the inherent relationship between power usage and machine configurations. Subsequently, with an understanding of these inherent relationships, researchers are able to develop effective power management policies to optimize productivity by balancing power usage and system performance. In this dissertation, we develop an autonomic power-aware system management framework for large-scale computer systems. We propose a series of techniques including coarse-grain power profiling, VM power modelling, power-aware resource auto-configuration and full-system power usage simulator. These techniques help us to understand the characteristics of power consumption of various system components. Based on these techniques, we are able to test various job scheduling strategies and develop resource management approaches to enhance the systems' power efficiency.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Zhang, Ziming
Partner: UNT Libraries

Advanced Power Amplifiers Design for Modern Wireless Communication

Description: Modern wireless communication systems use spectrally efficient modulation schemes to reach high data rate transmission. These schemes are generally involved with signals with high peak-to-average power ratio (PAPR). Moreover, the development of next generation wireless communication systems requires the power amplifiers to operate over a wide frequency band or multiple frequency bands to support different applications. These wide-band and multi-band solutions will lead to reductions in both the size and cost of the whole system. This dissertation presents several advanced power amplifier solutions to provide wide-band and multi-band operations with efficiency improvement at power back-offs.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Shao, Jin
Partner: UNT Libraries

Algorithm Optimizations in Genomic Analysis Using Entropic Dissection

Description: In recent years, the collection of genomic data has skyrocketed and databases of genomic data are growing at a faster rate than ever before. Although many computational methods have been developed to interpret these data, they tend to struggle to process the ever increasing file sizes that are being produced and fail to take advantage of the advances in multi-core processors by using parallel processing. In some instances, loss of accuracy has been a necessary trade off to allow faster computation of the data. This thesis discusses one such algorithm that has been developed and how changes were made to allow larger input file sizes and reduce the time required to achieve a result without sacrificing accuracy. An information entropy based algorithm was used as a basis to demonstrate these techniques. The algorithm dissects the distinctive patterns underlying genomic data efficiently requiring no a priori knowledge, and thus is applicable in a variety of biological research applications. This research describes how parallel processing and object-oriented programming techniques were used to process larger files in less time and achieve a more accurate result from the algorithm. Through object oriented techniques, the maximum allowable input file size was significantly increased from 200 mb to 2000 mb. Using parallel processing techniques allowed the program to finish processing data in less than half the time of the sequential version. The accuracy of the algorithm was improved by reducing data loss throughout the algorithm. Finally, adding user-friendly options enabled the program to use requests more effectively and further customize the logic used within the algorithm.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Danks, Jacob R.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Automatic Removal of Complex Shadows From Indoor Videos

Description: Shadows in indoor scenarios are usually characterized with multiple light sources that produce complex shadow patterns of a single object. Without removing shadow, the foreground object tends to be erroneously segmented. The inconsistent hue and intensity of shadows make automatic removal a challenging task. In this thesis, a dynamic thresholding and transfer learning-based method for removing shadows is proposed. The method suppresses light shadows with a dynamically computed threshold and removes dark shadows using an online learning strategy that is built upon a base classifier trained with manually annotated examples and refined with the automatically identified examples in the new videos. Experimental results demonstrate that despite variation of lighting conditions in videos our proposed method is able to adapt to the videos and remove shadows effectively. The sensitivity of shadow detection changes slightly with different confidence levels used in example selection for classifier retraining and high confidence level usually yields better performance with less retraining iterations.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Mohapatra, Deepankar
Partner: UNT Libraries

Computational Methods for Discovering and Analyzing Causal Relationships in Health Data

Description: Publicly available datasets in health science are often large and observational, in contrast to experimental datasets where a small number of data are collected in controlled experiments. Variables' causal relationships in the observational dataset are yet to be determined. However, there is a significant interest in health science to discover and analyze causal relationships from health data since identified causal relationships will greatly facilitate medical professionals to prevent diseases or to mitigate the negative effects of the disease. Recent advances in Computer Science, particularly in Bayesian networks, has initiated a renewed interest for causality research. Causal relationships can be possibly discovered through learning the network structures from data. However, the number of candidate graphs grows in a more than exponential rate with the increase of variables. Exact learning for obtaining the optimal structure is thus computationally infeasible in practice. As a result, heuristic approaches are imperative to alleviate the difficulty of computations. This research provides effective and efficient learning tools for local causal discoveries and novel methods of learning causal structures with a combination of background knowledge. Specifically in the direction of constraint based structural learning, polynomial-time algorithms for constructing causal structures are designed with first-order conditional independence. Algorithms of efficiently discovering non-causal factors are developed and proved. In addition, when the background knowledge is partially known, methods of graph decomposition are provided so as to reduce the number of conditioned variables. Experiments on both synthetic data and real epidemiological data indicate the provided methods are applicable to large-scale datasets and scalable for causal analysis in health data. Followed by the research methods and experiments, this dissertation gives thoughtful discussions on the reliability of causal discoveries computational health science research, complexity, and implications in health science research.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Liang, Yiheng
Partner: UNT Libraries

Computational Methods for Vulnerability Analysis and Resource Allocation in Public Health Emergencies

Description: POD (Point of Dispensing)-based emergency response plans involving mass prophylaxis may seem feasible when considering the choice of dispensing points within a region, overall population density, and estimated traffic demands. However, the plan may fail to serve particular vulnerable sub-populations, resulting in access disparities during emergency response. Federal authorities emphasize on the need to identify sub-populations that cannot avail regular services during an emergency due to their special needs to ensure effective response. Vulnerable individuals require the targeted allocation of appropriate resources to serve their special needs. Devising schemes to address the needs of vulnerable sub-populations is essential for the effectiveness of response plans. This research focuses on data-driven computational methods to quantify and address vulnerabilities in response plans that require the allocation of targeted resources. Data-driven methods to identify and quantify vulnerabilities in response plans are developed as part of this research. Addressing vulnerabilities requires the targeted allocation of appropriate resources to PODs. The problem of resource allocation to PODs during public health emergencies is introduced and the variants of the resource allocation problem such as the spatial allocation, spatio-temporal allocation and optimal resource subset variants are formulated. Generating optimal resource allocation and scheduling solutions can be computationally hard problems. The application of metaheuristic techniques to find near-optimal solutions to the resource allocation problem in response plans is investigated. A vulnerability analysis and resource allocation framework that facilitates the demographic analysis of population data in the context of response plans, and the optimal allocation of resources with respect to the analysis are described.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Indrakanti, Saratchandra
Partner: UNT Libraries