IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Approximating hidden Gaussian Markov random fields


  • Håvard Rue
  • Ingelin Steinsland
  • Sveinung Erland


Gaussian Markov random-field (GMRF) models are frequently used in a wide variety of applications. In most cases parts of the GMRF are observed through mutually independent data; hence the full conditional of the GMRF, a hidden GMRF (HGMRF), is of interest. We are concerned with the case where the likelihood is non-Gaussian, leading to non-Gaussian HGMRF models. Several researchers have constructed block sampling Markov chain Monte Carlo schemes based on approximations of the HGMRF by a GMRF, using a second-order expansion of the log-density at or near the mode. This is possible as the GMRF approximation can be sampled exactly with a known normalizing constant. The Markov property of the GMRF approximation yields computational efficiency.The main contribution in the paper is to go beyond the GMRF approximation and to construct a class of non-Gaussian approximations which adapt automatically to the particular HGMRF that is under study. The accuracy can be tuned by intuitive parameters to nearly any precision. These non-Gaussian approximations share the same computational complexity as those which are based on GMRFs and can be sampled exactly with computable normalizing constants. We apply our approximations in spatial disease mapping and model-based geostatistical models with different likelihoods, obtain procedures for block updating and construct Metropolized independence samplers. Copyright 2004 Royal Statistical Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Håvard Rue & Ingelin Steinsland & Sveinung Erland, 2004. "Approximating hidden Gaussian Markov random fields," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 66(4), pages 877-892.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jorssb:v:66:y:2004:i:4:p:877-892

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simon French, 2003. "Modelling, making inferences and making decisions: The roles of sensitivity analysis," TOP: An Official Journal of the Spanish Society of Statistics and Operations Research, Springer;Sociedad de Estadística e Investigación Operativa, vol. 11(2), pages 229-251, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Vinicius Mayrink & Dani Gamerman, 2009. "On computational aspects of Bayesian spatial models: influence of the neighboring structure in the efficiency of MCMC algorithms," Computational Statistics, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 641-669, December.
    2. McCausland, William J., 2012. "The HESSIAN method: Highly efficient simulation smoothing, in a nutshell," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 168(2), pages 189-206.
    3. McCAUSLAND, William, 2008. "The Hessian Method (Highly Efficient State Smoothing, In a Nutshell)," Cahiers de recherche 03-2008, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
    4. Steinsland, Ingelin, 2007. "Parallel exact sampling and evaluation of Gaussian Markov random fields," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 2969-2981, March.
    5. Nial Friel & Håvard Rue, 2007. "Recursive computing and simulation-free inference for general factorizable models," Biometrika, Biometrika Trust, vol. 94(3), pages 661-672.
    6. Paciorek, Christopher J., 2007. "Computational techniques for spatial logistic regression with large data sets," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 51(8), pages 3631-3653, May.
    7. Gschlößl, Susanne & Czado, Claudia, 2008. "Does a Gibbs sampler approach to spatial Poisson regression models outperform a single site MH sampler?," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 52(9), pages 4184-4202, May.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jorssb:v:66:y:2004:i:4:p:877-892. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.