Non-linear hierarchical visualisation
This thesis applies a hierarchical latent trait model system to a large quantity of data. The motivation for it was lack of viable approaches to analyse High Throughput Screening datasets which maybe include thousands of data points with high dimensions. We believe that a latent variable model (LTM) with a non-linear mapping from the latent space to the data space is a preferred choice for visualising a complex high-dimensional data set. As a type of latent variable model, the latent trait model can deal with either continuous data or discrete data, which makes it particularly useful in this domain. In addition, with the aid of differential geometry, we can imagine that distribution of data from magnification factor and curvature plots. Rather than obtaining the useful information just from a single plot, a hierarchical LTM arranges a set of LTMs and their corresponding plots in a tree structure. We model the whole data set with a LTM at the top level, which is broken down into clusters at deeper levels of the hierarchy. In this manner, the refined visualisation plots can be displayed in deeper levels and sub-clusters may be found. Hierarchy of LTMs is trained using expectation-maximisation (EM) algorithm to maximise its likelihood with respect to the data sample. Training proceeds interactively in a recursive fashion (top-down). The user subjectively identifies interesting regions on the visualisation plot that they would like to model in a greater detail. At each stage of hierarchical LTM construction, the EM algorithm alternates between the E - and M - step. Another problem that can occur when visualising a large data set is that there may be significant overlaps of data clusters. It is very difficult for the user to judge where centres of regions of interest should be put. We address this problem by employing the minimum message length technique, which can help the user to decide the optimal structure of the model.