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Statistical methods; statistics


Discrete data such as counts of microbiome taxa resulting from next-generation sequencing are routinely encountered in bioinformatics. Taxa count data in microbiome studies are typically high-dimensional, over-dispersed, and can only reveal relative abundance therefore being treated as compositional. Analyzing compositional data presents many challenges because they are restricted to a simplex. In a logistic normal multinomial model, the relative abundance is mapped from a simplex to a latent variable that exists on the real Euclidean space using the additive log-ratio transformation. While a logistic normal multinomial approach brings flexibility for modeling the data, it comes with a heavy computational cost as the parameter estimation typically relies on Bayesian techniques. In this paper, we develop a novel mixture of logistic normal multinomial models for clustering microbiome data. Additionally, we utilize an efficient framework for parameter estimation using variational Gaussian approximations (VGA). Adopting a variational Gaussian approximation for the posterior of the latent variable reduces the computational overhead substantially. The proposed method is illustrated on simulated and real datasets.


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.