Towards Flexible Time-to-Event Modeling: Optimizing Neural Networks via Rank Regression

Hyunjun Lee, Junhyun Lee, Taehwa Choi, Jaewoo Kang, Sangbum Choi

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


Time-to-event analysis, also known as survival analysis, aims to predict the time of occurrence of an event, given a set of features. One of the major challenges in this area is dealing with censored data, which can make learning algorithms more complex. Traditional methods such as Cox's proportional hazards model and the accelerated failure time (AFT) model have been popular in this field, but they often require assumptions such as proportional hazards and linearity. In particular, the AFT models often require pre-specified parametric distributional assumptions. To improve predictive performance and alleviate strict assumptions, there have been many deep learning approaches for hazard-based models in recent years. However, representation learning for AFT has not been widely explored in the neural network literature, despite its simplicity and interpretability in comparison to hazard-focused methods. In this work, we introduce the Deep AFT Rank-regression model for Time-to-event prediction (DART). This model uses an objective function based on Gehan's rank statistic, which is efficient and reliable for representation learning. On top of eliminating the requirement to establish a baseline event time distribution, DART retains the advantages of directly predicting event time in standard AFT models. The proposed method is a semiparametric approach to AFT modeling that does not impose any distributional assumptions on the survival time distribution. This also eliminates the need for additional hyperparameters or complex model architectures, unlike existing neural network-based AFT models. Through quantitative analysis on various benchmark datasets, we have shown that DART has significant potential for modeling high-throughput censored time-to-event data.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationECAI 2023 - 26th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence, including 12th Conference on Prestigious Applications of Intelligent Systems, PAIS 2023 - Proceedings
EditorsKobi Gal, Kobi Gal, Ann Nowe, Grzegorz J. Nalepa, Roy Fairstein, Roxana Radulescu
PublisherIOS Press BV
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781643684369
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Sept 28
Event26th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence, ECAI 2023 - Krakow, Poland
Duration: 2023 Sept 302023 Oct 4

Publication series

NameFrontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications
ISSN (Print)0922-6389
ISSN (Electronic)1879-8314


Conference26th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence, ECAI 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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