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Privacy-preserving model learning on a blockchain network-of-networks.

  • Author(s): Kuo, Tsung-Ting
  • Kim, Jihoon
  • Gabriel, Rodney A
  • et al.
Abstract

OBJECTIVE:To facilitate clinical/genomic/biomedical research, constructing generalizable predictive models using cross-institutional methods while protecting privacy is imperative. However, state-of-the-art methods assume a "flattened" topology, while real-world research networks may consist of "network-of-networks" which can imply practical issues including training on small data for rare diseases/conditions, prioritizing locally trained models, and maintaining models for each level of the hierarchy. In this study, we focus on developing a hierarchical approach to inherit the benefits of the privacy-preserving methods, retain the advantages of adopting blockchain, and address practical concerns on a research network-of-networks. MATERIALS AND METHODS:We propose a framework to combine level-wise model learning, blockchain-based model dissemination, and a novel hierarchical consensus algorithm for model ensemble. We developed an example implementation HierarchicalChain (hierarchical privacy-preserving modeling on blockchain), evaluated it on 3 healthcare/genomic datasets, as well as compared its predictive correctness, learning iteration, and execution time with a state-of-the-art method designed for flattened network topology. RESULTS:HierarchicalChain improves the predictive correctness for small training datasets and provides comparable correctness results with the competing method with higher learning iteration and similar per-iteration execution time, inherits the benefits of the privacy-preserving learning and advantages of blockchain technology, and immutable records models for each level. DISCUSSION:HierarchicalChain is independent of the core privacy-preserving learning method, as well as of the underlying blockchain platform. Further studies are warranted for various types of network topology, complex data, and privacy concerns. CONCLUSION:We demonstrated the potential of utilizing the information from the hierarchical network-of-networks topology to improve prediction.

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