A biological system is a complex network of heterogeneous molecular entities and their interactions contributing to various biological characteristics of the system. Although the biological networks not only provide an elegant theoretical framework but also offer a mathematical foundation to analyze, understand, and learn from complex biological systems, the reconstruction of biological networks is an important and unsolved problem. Current biological networks are noisy, sparse and incomplete, limiting the ability to create a holistic view of the biological reconstructions and thus fail to provide a system-level understanding of the biological phenomena. Experimental identification of missing interactions is both time-consuming and expensive. Recent advancements in high-throughput data generation and significant improvement in computational power have led to novel computational methods to predict missing interactions. However, these methods still suffer from several unresolved challenges. It is challenging to extract information about interactions and incorporate that information into the computational model. Furthermore, the biological data are not only heterogeneous but also high-dimensional and sparse presenting the difficulty of modeling from indirect measurements. The heterogeneous nature and sparsity of biological data pose significant challenges to the design of deep neural network structures which use essentially either empirical or heuristic model selection methods. These unscalable methods heavily rely on expertise and experimentation, which is a time-consuming and error-prone process and are prone to overfitting. Furthermore, the complex deep networks tend to be poorly calibrated with high confidence on incorrect predictions. In this dissertation, we describe novel algorithms that address these challenges. In Part I, we design novel neural network structures to learn representation for biological entities and further expand the model to integrate heterogeneous biological data for biological interaction prediction. In part II, we develop a novel Bayesian model selection method to infer the most plausible network structures warranted by data. We demonstrate that our methods achieve the state-of-the-art performance on the tasks across various domains including interaction prediction. Experimental studies on various interaction networks show that our method makes accurate and calibrated predictions. Our novel probabilistic model selection approach enables the network structures to dynamically evolve to accommodate incrementally available data. In conclusion, we discuss the limitations and future directions for proposed works.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Biological systems--Mathematical models; Neural networks (Computer science); Machine learning

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Computing and Information Sciences (Ph.D.)


Rui Li

Advisor/Committee Member

Anne Haake

Advisor/Committee Member

Linwei Wang


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes