A Deep Variational Approach to Clustering Survival Data


  • Laura Manduchi, Ričards Marcinkevičs, Michela C. Massi, Thomas Weikert, Alexander Sauter, Verena Gotta, Timothy Müller, Flavio Vasella, Marian C. Neidert, Marc Pfister, Bram Stieltjes, Julia E Vogt


In this work, we study the problem of clustering survival data — a challenging and so far under-explored task. We introduce a novel semi-supervised probabilistic approach to cluster survival data by leveraging recent advances in stochastic gradient variational inference. In contrast to previous work, our proposed method employs a deep generative model to uncover the underlying distribution of both the explanatory variables and censored survival times. We compare our model to the related work on clustering and mixture models for survival data in comprehensive experiments on a wide range of synthetic, semi-synthetic, and real-world datasets, including medical imaging data. Our method performs better at identifying clusters and is competitive at predicting survival times. Relying on novel generative assumptions, the proposed model offers a holistic perspective on clustering survival data and holds a promise of discovering subpopulations whose survival is regulated by different generative mechanisms.

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