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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

Modeling the Impact and Intervention of a Sexually Transmitted Disease: Human Papilloma Virus

Description: Many human papilloma virus (HPV) types are sexually transmitted and HPV DNA types 16, 18, 31, and 45 account for more than 75% if all cervical dysplasia. Candidate vaccines are successfully completing US Federal Drug Agency (FDA) phase III testing and several drug companies are in licensing arbitration. Once this vaccine become available it is unlikely that 100% vaccination coverage will be probable; hence, the need for vaccination strategies that will have the greatest reduction on the endemic prevalence of HPV. This thesis introduces two discrete-time models for evaluating the effect of demographic-biased vaccination strategies: one model incorporates temporal demographics (i.e., age) in population compartments; the other non-temporal demographics (i.e., race, ethnicity). Also presented is an intuitive Web-based interface that was developed to allow the user to evaluate the effects on prevalence of a demographic-biased intervention by tailoring the model parameters to specific demographics and geographical region.
Date: May 2006
Creator: Corley, Courtney D.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Bayesian Probabilistic Reasoning Applied to Mathematical Epidemiology for Predictive Spatiotemporal Analysis of Infectious Diseases

Description: Abstract Probabilistic reasoning under uncertainty suits well to analysis of disease dynamics. The stochastic nature of disease progression is modeled by applying the principles of Bayesian learning. Bayesian learning predicts the disease progression, including prevalence and incidence, for a geographic region and demographic composition. Public health resources, prioritized by the order of risk levels of the population, will efficiently minimize the disease spread and curtail the epidemic at the earliest. A Bayesian network representing the outbreak of influenza and pneumonia in a geographic region is ported to a newer region with different demographic composition. Upon analysis for the newer region, the corresponding prevalence of influenza and pneumonia among the different demographic subgroups is inferred for the newer region. Bayesian reasoning coupled with disease timeline is used to reverse engineer an influenza outbreak for a given geographic and demographic setting. The temporal flow of the epidemic among the different sections of the population is analyzed to identify the corresponding risk levels. In comparison to spread vaccination, prioritizing the limited vaccination resources to the higher risk groups results in relatively lower influenza prevalence. HIV incidence in Texas from 1989-2002 is analyzed using demographic based epidemic curves. Dynamic Bayesian networks are integrated with probability distributions of HIV surveillance data coupled with the census population data to estimate the proportion of HIV incidence among the different demographic subgroups. Demographic based risk analysis lends to observation of varied spectrum of HIV risk among the different demographic subgroups. A methodology using hidden Markov models is introduced that enables to investigate the impact of social behavioral interactions in the incidence and prevalence of infectious diseases. The methodology is presented in the context of simulated disease outbreak data for influenza. Probabilistic reasoning analysis enhances the understanding of disease progression in order to identify the critical points of surveillance, ...
Date: May 2006
Creator: Abbas, Kaja Moinudeen
Partner: UNT Libraries

Modeling Infectious Disease Spread Using Global Stochastic Field Simulation

Description: Susceptibles-infectives-removals (SIR) and its derivatives are the classic mathematical models for the study of infectious diseases in epidemiology. In order to model and simulate epidemics of an infectious disease, a global stochastic field simulation paradigm (GSFS) is proposed, which incorporates geographic and demographic based interactions. The interaction measure between regions is a function of population density and geographical distance, and has been extended to include demographic and migratory constraints. The progression of diseases using GSFS is analyzed, and similar behavior to the SIR model is exhibited by GSFS, using the geographic information systems (GIS) gravity model for interactions. The limitations of the SIR and similar models of homogeneous population with uniform mixing are addressed by the GSFS model. The GSFS model is oriented to heterogeneous population, and can incorporate interactions based on geography, demography, environment and migration patterns. The progression of diseases can be modeled at higher levels of fidelity using the GSFS model, and facilitates optimal deployment of public health resources for prevention, control and surveillance of infectious diseases.
Date: August 2006
Creator: Venkatachalam, Sangeeta
Partner: UNT Libraries