Large longitudinal studies provide lots of valuable information, especially in medical applications. A problem which must be taken care of in order to utilize their full potential is that of correlation between intra-subject measurements taken at different times. For data in Euclidean space this can be done with hierarchical models, that is, models that consider intra-subject and between-subject variability in two different stages. Nevertheless, data from medical studies often takes values in nonlinear manifolds. Here, as a first step, geodesic hierarchical models have been developed that generalize the linear ansatz by assuming that time-induced intra-subject variations occur along a generalized straight line in the manifold. However, this is often not the case (e.g., periodic motion or processes with saturation). We propose a hierarchical model for manifold-valued data that extends this to include trends along higher-order curves, namely Bézier splines in the manifold.
To this end, we present a principled way of comparing shape trends in terms of a functional-based Riemannian metric.
Remarkably, this metric allows efficient, yet simple computations by virtue of a variational time discretization requiring only the solution of regression problems.
We validate our model on longitudinal data from the osteoarthritis initiative, including classification of disease progression.