Cumulants of Hawkes Processes are Robust to Observation Noise

William Trouleau, Jalal Etesami, Matt Grossglauser, Negar Kiyavash, Patrick Thiran

[ Abstract ] [ Livestream: Visit Time Series 2 ] [ Paper ]

Multivariate Hawkes processes (MHPs) are widely used in a variety of fields to model the occurrence of causally related discrete events in continuous time. Most state-of-the-art approaches address the problem of learning MHPs from perfect traces without noise. In practice, the process through which events are collected might introduce noise in the timestamps. In this work, we address the problem of learning the causal structure of MHPs when the observed timestamps of events are subject to random and unknown shifts, also known as random translations. We prove that the cumulants of MHPs are invariant to random translations, and therefore can be used to learn their underlying causal structure. Furthermore, we empirically characterize the effect of random translations on state-of-the-art learning methods. We show that maximum likelihood-based estimators are brittle, while cumulant-based estimators remain stable even in the presence of significant time shifts.

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