Nonparametric discovery and analysis of learning patterns and autism subgroups from therapeutic data

Pratibha Vellanki, Thi Duong, Sunil Gupta, Svetha Venkatesh, Dinh Phung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The spectrum nature and heterogeneity within autism spectrum disorders (ASD) pose as a challenge for treatment. Personalisation of syllabus for children with ASD can improve the efficacy of learning by adjusting the number of opportunities and deciding the course of syllabus. We research the data-motivated approach in an attempt to disentangle this heterogeneity for personalisation of syllabus. With the help of technology and a structured syllabus, collecting data while a child with ASD masters the skills is made possible. The performance data collected are, however, growing and contain missing elements based on the pace and the course each child takes while navigating through the syllabus. Bayesian nonparametric methods are known for automatically discovering the number of latent components and their parameters when the model involves higher complexity. We propose a nonparametric Bayesian matrix factorisation model that discovers learning patterns and the way participants associate with them. Our model is built upon the linear Poisson gamma model (LPGM) with an Indian buffet process prior and extended to incorporate data with missing elements. In this paper, for the first time we have presented learning patterns deduced automatically from data mining and machine learning methods using intervention data recorded for over 500 children with ASD. We compare the results with non-negative matrix factorisation and K-means, which being parametric, not only require us to specify the number of learning patterns in advance, but also do not have a principle approach to deal with missing data. The F1 score observed over varying degree of similarity measure (Jaccard Index) suggests that LPGM yields the best outcome. By observing these patterns with additional knowledge regarding the syllabus it may be possible to observe the progress and dynamically modify the syllabus for improved learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-157
Number of pages31
JournalKnowledge and Information Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

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