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Evaluating the marginal likelihood in Bayesian analysis is essential for model selection. Estimators based on a single Markov chain Monte Carlo sample from the posterior distribution include the harmonic mean estimator and the inflated density ratio estimator. We propose a new class of Monte Carlo estimators based on this single Markov chain Monte Carlo sample. This class can be thought of as a generalization of the harmonic mean and inflated density ratio estimators using a partition weighted kernel (likelihood times prior). We show that our estimator is consistent and has better theoretical properties than the harmonic mean and inflated density ratio estimators. In addition, we provide guidelines on choosing optimal weights. Simulation studies were conducted to examine the empirical performance of the proposed estimator. We further demonstrate the desirable features of the proposed estimator with two real data sets: one is from a prostate cancer study using an ordinal probit regression model with latent variables; the other is for the power prior construction from two Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group phase III clinical trials using the cure rate survival model with similar objectives.
We compare several variants of the Plackett–Luce model, a commonly-used model for permutations, in terms of their ability to accurately forecast Formula One motor racing results. A Bayesian approach to forecasting is adopted and a Gibbs sampler for sampling from the posterior distributions of the model parameters is described. Prediction of the results from the 2010 to 2013 Formula One seasons highlights clear strengths and weaknesses of the various models. We demonstrate by example that down weighting past results can improve forecasts, and that some of the models we consider are competitive with the forecasts implied by bookmakers odds.
In logistic regression, separation occurs when a linear combination of the predictors can perfectly classify part or all of the observations in the sample, and as a result, finite maximum likelihood estimates of the regression coefficients do not exist. Gelman et al. (2008) recommended independent Cauchy distributions as default priors for the regression coefficients in logistic regression, even in the case of separation, and reported posterior modes in their analyses. As the mean does not exist for the Cauchy prior, a natural question is whether the posterior means of the regression coefficients exist under separation. We prove theorems that provide necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence of posterior means under independent Cauchy priors for the logit link and a general family of link functions, including the probit link. We also study the existence of posterior means under multivariate Cauchy priors. For full Bayesian inference, we develop a Gibbs sampler based on Pólya-Gamma data augmentation to sample from the posterior distribution under independent Student- priors including Cauchy priors, and provide a companion R package , available at CRAN. We demonstrate empirically that even when the posterior means of the regression coefficients exist under separation, the magnitude of the posterior samples for Cauchy priors may be unusually large, and the corresponding Gibbs sampler shows extremely slow mixing. While alternative algorithms such as the No-U-Turn Sampler (NUTS) in Stan can greatly improve mixing, in order to resolve the issue of extremely heavy tailed posteriors for Cauchy priors under separation, one would need to consider lighter tailed priors such as normal priors or Student- priors with degrees of freedom larger than one.
We develop a new class of dynamic multivariate Poisson count models that allow for fast online updating. We refer to this class as multivariate Poisson-scaled beta (MPSB) models. The MPSB model allows for serial dependence in count data as well as dependence with a random common environment across time series. Notable features of our model are analytic forms for state propagation, predictive likelihood densities, and sequential updating via sufficient statistics for the static model parameters. Our approach leads to a fully adapted particle learning algorithm and a new class of predictive likelihoods and marginal distributions which we refer to as the (dynamic) multivariate confluent hyper-geometric negative binomial distribution (MCHG-NB) and the dynamic multivariate negative binomial (DMNB) distribution, respectively. To illustrate our methodology, we use a simulation study and empirical data on weekly consumer non-durable goods demand.
The analysis of RNA-Seq data has been focused on three main categories, including gene expression, relative exon usage and transcript expression. Methods have been proposed independently for each category using a negative binomial (NB) model. However, counts following a NB distribution on one feature (e.g., exon) do not guarantee a NB distribution for the other two features (e.g., gene/transcript). In this paper we propose a family of Negative Binomial models, which integrates the gene, exon and transcript analysis under a coherent NB model. The proposed model easily incorporates the uncertainty of assigning reads to transcripts and simplifies substantially the estimation for the relative usage. We developed simple Gibbs sampling algorithms for the posterior inference by exploiting fully tractable closed-forms of computation via suitable conjugate priors. The proposed models were investigated under extensive simulations. Finally, we applied our model to a real data set.
Selecting between competing statistical models is a challenging problem especially when the competing models are non-nested. In this paper we offer a simple solution by devising an algorithm which combines MCMC and importance sampling to obtain computationally efficient estimates of the marginal likelihood which can then be used to compare the models. The algorithm is successfully applied to a longitudinal epidemic data set, where calculating the marginal likelihood is made more challenging by the presence of large amounts of missing data. In this context, our importance sampling approach is shown to outperform existing methods for computing the marginal likelihood.
In this paper we propose a Bayesian answer to testing problems when the hypotheses are not well separated. The idea of the method is to study the posterior distribution of a discrepancy measure between the parameter and the model we want to test for. This is shown to be equivalent to a modification of the testing loss. An advantage of this approach is that it can easily be adapted to complex hypotheses testing which are in general difficult to test for. Asymptotic properties of the test can be derived from the asymptotic behaviour of the posterior distribution of the discrepancy measure, and gives insight on possible calibrations. In addition one can derive separation rates for testing, which ensure the asymptotic frequentist optimality of our procedures.
Traditionally, the field of computational Bayesian statistics has been divided into two main subfields: variational methods and Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC). In recent years, however, several methods have been proposed based on combining variational Bayesian inference and MCMC simulation in order to improve their overall accuracy and computational efficiency. This marriage of fast evaluation and flexible approximation provides a promising means of designing scalable Bayesian inference methods. In this paper, we explore the possibility of incorporating variational approximation into a state-of-the-art MCMC method, Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (HMC), to reduce the required expensive computation involved in the sampling procedure, which is the bottleneck for many applications of HMC in big data problems. To this end, we exploit the regularity in parameter space to construct a free-form approximation of the target distribution by a fast and flexible surrogate function using an optimized additive model of proper random basis, which can also be viewed as a single-hidden layer feedforward neural network. The surrogate function provides sufficiently accurate approximation while allowing for fast computation in the sampling procedure, resulting in an efficient approximate Bayesian inference algorithm. We demonstrate the advantages of our proposed method using both synthetic and real data problems.
Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms have become powerful tools for Bayesian inference. However, they do not scale well to large-data problems. Divide-and-conquer strategies, which split the data into batches and, for each batch, run independent MCMC algorithms targeting the corresponding subposterior, can spread the computational burden across a number of separate computer cores. The challenge with such strategies is in recombining the subposteriors to approximate the full posterior. By creating a Gaussian-process approximation for each log-subposterior density we create a tractable approximation for the full posterior. This approximation is exploited through three methodologies: firstly a Hamiltonian Monte Carlo algorithm targeting the expectation of the posterior density provides a sample from an approximation to the posterior; secondly, evaluating the true posterior at the sampled points leads to an importance sampler that, asymptotically, targets the true posterior expectations; finally, an alternative importance sampler uses the full Gaussian-process distribution of the approximation to the log-posterior density to re-weight any initial sample and provide both an estimate of the posterior expectation and a measure of the uncertainty in it.
In spatial statistics, it is usual to consider a Gaussian process for spatial latent variables. As the data often exhibit non-normality, we introduce a novel skew process, named hereafter Gaussian-log Gaussian convolution (GLGC) to construct latent spatial models which provide great flexibility in capturing skewness. Some properties including closed-form expressions for the moments and the skewness of the GLGC process are derived. Particularly, we show that the mean square continuity and differentiability of the GLGC process are established by those of the Gaussian and log-Gaussian processes considered in its structure. Moreover, the usefulness of the proposed approach is demonstrated through the analysis of spatial data, including mixed ordinal and continuous outcomes that are jointly modeled through a common latent process. A fully Bayesian analysis is adopted to make inference. Our methodology is illustrated with simulation experiments as well as an environmental data set.
Clustering is widely studied in statistics and machine learning, with applications in a variety of fields. As opposed to popular algorithms such as agglomerative hierarchical clustering or k-means which return a single clustering solution, Bayesian nonparametric models provide a posterior over the entire space of partitions, allowing one to assess statistical properties, such as uncertainty on the number of clusters. However, an important problem is how to summarize the posterior; the huge dimension of partition space and difficulties in visualizing it add to this problem. In a Bayesian analysis, the posterior of a real-valued parameter of interest is often summarized by reporting a point estimate such as the posterior mean along with 95% credible intervals to characterize uncertainty. In this paper, we extend these ideas to develop appropriate point estimates and credible sets to summarize the posterior of the clustering structure based on decision and information theoretic techniques.
We provide a review of prior distributions for objective Bayesian analysis. We start by examining some foundational issues and then organize our exposition into priors for: i) estimation or prediction; ii) model selection; iii) high-dimensional models. With regard to i), we present some basic notions, and then move to more recent contributions on discrete parameter space, hierarchical models, nonparametric models, and penalizing complexity priors. Point ii) is the focus of this paper: it discusses principles for objective Bayesian model comparison, and singles out some major concepts for building priors, which are subsequently illustrated in some detail for the classic problem of variable selection in normal linear models. We also present some recent contributions in the area of objective priors on model space. With regard to point iii) we only provide a short summary of some default priors for high-dimensional models, a rapidly growing area of research.