CausalGNN: Causal-Based Graph Neural Networks for Spatio-Temporal Epidemic Forecasting

Lijing Wang, Aniruddha Adiga, Jiangzhuo Chen, Adam Sadilek, Srinivasan Venkatramanan, Madhav Marathe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

27 Scopus citations


Infectious disease forecasting has been a key focus in the recent past owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and has proved to be an important tool in controlling the pandemic. With the advent of reliable spatiotemporal data, graph neural network models have been able to successfully model the interrelation between the cross-region signals to produce quality forecasts, but like most deep-learning models they do not explicitly incorporate the underlying causal mechanisms. In this work, we employ a causal mechanistic model to guide the learning of the graph embeddings and propose a novel learning framework - Causal-based Graph Neural Network (CausalGNN) that learns spatiotemporal embedding in a latent space where graph input features and epidemiological context are combined via a mutually learning mechanism using graph-based non-linear transformations. We design an attention-based dynamic GNN module to capture spatial and temporal disease dynamics. A causal module is added to the framework to provide epidemiological context for node embedding via ordinary differential equations. Extensive experiments on forecasting daily new cases of COVID-19 at global, US state, and US county levels show that the proposed method outperforms a broad range of baselines. The learned model which incorporates epidemiological context organizes the embedding in an efficient way by keeping the parameter size small leading to robust and accurate forecasting performance across various datasets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIAAI-22, EAAI-22, AAAI-22 Special Programs and Special Track, Student Papers and Demonstrations
PublisherAssociation for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)1577358767, 9781577358763
StatePublished - Jun 30 2022
Externally publishedYes
Event36th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Feb 22 2022Mar 1 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 36th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2022


Conference36th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2022
CityVirtual, Online

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence


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