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A Bayesian Network Interpretation of the Cox’s Proportional Hazard Model

Kraisangka J, Druzdzel MJ. A Bayesian Network Interpretation of the Cox’s Proportional Hazard Model. Int J Approx Reason. 2018;103:195-211


Cox’s proportional hazards (CPH) model is quite likely the most popular modeling technique in survival analysis. While the CPH model is able to represent a relationship between a collection of risks and their common effect, Bayesian networks have become an attractive alternative with an increased modeling power and far broader applications. Our paper focuses on a Bayesian network interpretation of the CPH model (BN-Cox). We provide a method of encoding knowledge from existing CPH models in the process of knowledge engineering for Bayesian networks. This is important because in practice we often have CPH models available in the literature and no access to the original data from which they have been derived.

We compare the accuracy of the resulting BN-Cox model to the original CPH model, Kaplan–Meier estimate, and Bayesian networks learned from data, including Naive Bayes, Tree Augmented Naive Bayes, Noisy-Max, and parameter learning by means of the EM algorithm. BN-Cox model came out as the most accurate of all BN approaches and very close to the original CPH model.

We study two approaches for simplifying the BN-Cox model for the sake of representational and computational efficiency: (1) parent divorcing and (2) removing less important risk factors. We show that removing less important risk factors leads to smaller loss of accuracy.


Bayesian networkCox’s proportional hazard model