Cases, clusters, densities : modeling the nonlinear dynamics of complex health trajectories\ud

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Castellani, Brian ; Rajaram, Rajeev ; Gunn, Jane ; Griffiths, Frances (2015)

In the health informatics era, modeling longitudinal data remains problematic. The issue is method: health data are highly nonlinear and dynamic, multilevel and multidimensional, comprised of multiple major/minor trends, and causally complex – making curve fitting, modeling and prediction difficult. The current study is fourth in a series exploring a case-based density (CBD) approach for modeling complex trajectories; which has the following advantages: it can (1) convert databases into sets of cases (k dimensional row vectors; i.e., rows containing k elements); (2) compute the trajectory (velocity vector) for each case based on (3) a set of bio-social variables called traces; (4) construct a theoretical map to explain these traces; (5) use vector quantization (i.e., k-means, topographical neural nets) to longitudinally cluster case trajectories into major/minor trends; (6) employ genetic algorithms and ordinary di.erential equations to create a microscopic (vector field) model (the inverse problem) of these trajectories; (7) look for complex steady-state behaviors (e.g., spiraling sources, etc) in the microscopic model; (8) draw from thermodynamics, synergetics and transport theory to translate the vector field (microscopic model) into the linear movement of macroscopic densities; (9) use the macroscopic model to simulate known and novel case-based scenarios (the forward problem); and (10) construct multiple accounts of the data by linking the theoretical map and k dimensional profile with the macroscopic, microscopic and cluster models. Given the utility of this approach, our purpose here is to organize our method (as applied to recent research) so it can be employed by others.\ud
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