Approximate Bayesian inference in spatial GLMM with skew normal latent variables
Spatial generalized linear mixed models are common in applied statistics. Most users are satisfied using a Gaussian distribution for the spatial latent variables in this model, but it is unclear whether the Gaussian assumption holds. Wrong Gaussian assumptions cause bias in the parameter estimates and affect the accuracy of spatial predictions. Thus, there is a need for more flexible priors for the latent variables, and to perform efficient inference and spatial prediction in the resulting models. In this paper we use a skew normal prior distribution for the spatial latent variables. We propose new approximate Bayesian methods for the inference and spatial prediction in this model. A key ingredient in our approximations is using the closed skew normal distribution to approximate the full conditional for the latent variables. Our approximate inference and spatial prediction methods are fast and deterministic, using no sampling based strategies. The results indicate that the skew normal prior model can give better predictions than the normal model, while avoiding overfitting.
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