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Structural perspective on constraint-based learning of Markov networks

Tuukka Korhonen · Fedor Fomin · Pekka Parviainen

MR1 & MR2 - Number 167
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Thu 2 May 8 a.m. PDT — 8:30 a.m. PDT

Abstract: Markov networks are probabilistic graphical models that employ undirected graphs to depict conditional independence relationships among variables. Our focus lies in constraint-based structure learning, which entails learning the undirected graph from data through the execution of conditional independence tests. We establish theoretical limits concerning two critical aspects of constraint-based learning of Markov networks: the number of tests and the sizes of the conditioning sets. These bounds uncover an exciting interplay between the structural properties of the graph and the amount of tests required to learn a Markov network. The starting point of our work is that the graph parameter maximum pairwise connectivity, $\kappa$, that is, the maximum number of vertex-disjoint paths connecting a pair of vertices in the graph, is responsible for the sizes of independence tests required to learn the graph. On one hand, we show that at least one test with the size of the conditioning set at least $\kappa$ is always necessary. On the other hand, we prove that any graph can be learned by performing tests of size at most $\kappa$. This completely resolves the question of the minimum size of conditioning sets required to learn the graph. When it comes to the number of tests, our upper bound on the sizes of conditioning sets implies that every $n$-vertex graph can be learned by at most $n^{\kappa}$ tests with conditioning sets of sizes at most $\kappa$. We show that for any upper bound q on the sizes of the conditioning sets, there exist graphs with $O(nq)$ vertices that require at least $n^{\Omega(\kappa)}$ tests to learn. This lower bound holds even when the treewidth and the maximum degree of the graph are at most $\kappa+2$. On the positive side, we prove that every graph of bounded treewidth can be learned by a polynomial number of tests with conditioning sets of sizes at most $2*\kappa$.

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