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To Bridge, to Warp or to Wrap? A Comparative Study of Monte Carlo Methods for Efficient Evaluation of Marginal Likelihoods

Author

Listed:
  • David Ardia

    (University of Fribourg, Switzerland)

  • Lennart Hoogerheide

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Herman K. van Dijk

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Abstract

This discussion paper led to a publication in 'Computational Statistics & Data Analysis' 56(11), pp. 3398-1414.Important choices for efficient and accurate evaluation of marginal likelihoods by means of Monte Carlo simulation methods are studied for the case of highly non-elliptical posterior distributions. We focus on the situation where one makes use of importance sampling or the independence chain Metropolis-Hastings algorithm for posterior analysis. A comparative analysis is presented of possible advantages and limitations of different simulation techniques; of possible choices of candidate distributions and choices of target or warped target distributions; and finally of numerical standard errors. The importance of a robust and flexible estimation strategy is demonstrated where the complete posterior distribution is explored. In this respect, the adaptive mixture of Student-t distributions of Hoogerheide et al.(2007) works particularly well. Given an appropriately yet quickly tuned candidate, straightforward importance sampling provides the most efficient estimator of the marginal likelihood in the cases investigated in this paper, which include a non-linear regression model of Ritter and Tanner (1992) and a conditional normal distribution of Gelman and Meng (1991). A poor choice of candidate density may lead to a huge loss of efficiency where the numerical standard error may be highly unreliable.

Suggested Citation

  • David Ardia & Lennart Hoogerheide & Herman K. van Dijk, 2009. "To Bridge, to Warp or to Wrap? A Comparative Study of Monte Carlo Methods for Efficient Evaluation of Marginal Likelihoods," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-017/4, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20090017
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Geweke, John, 1989. "Bayesian Inference in Econometric Models Using Monte Carlo Integration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1317-1339, November.
    2. Ardia, David & Hoogerheide, Lennart F. & van Dijk, Herman K., 2009. "Adaptive Mixture of Student-t Distributions as a Flexible Candidate Distribution for Efficient Simulation: The R Package AdMit," Journal of Statistical Software, Foundation for Open Access Statistics, vol. 29(i03).
    3. Hoogerheide, Lennart F. & Kaashoek, Johan F. & van Dijk, Herman K., 2007. "On the shape of posterior densities and credible sets in instrumental variable regression models with reduced rank: An application of flexible sampling methods using neural networks," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 139(1), pages 154-180, July.
    4. Kloek, Tuen & van Dijk, Herman K, 1978. "Bayesian Estimates of Equation System Parameters: An Application of Integration by Monte Carlo," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 1-19, January.
    5. Bauwens, Luc & Bos, Charles S. & van Dijk, Herman K. & van Oest, Rutger D., 2004. "Adaptive radial-based direction sampling: some flexible and robust Monte Carlo integration methods," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 201-225, December.
    6. John Geweke, 1999. "Using simulation methods for bayesian econometric models: inference, development,and communication," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 1-73.
    7. Chib S. & Jeliazkov I., 2001. "Marginal Likelihood From the Metropolis-Hastings Output," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 96, pages 270-281, March.
    8. van Dijk, H. K. & Kloek, T., 1980. "Further experience in Bayesian analysis using Monte Carlo integration," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 307-328, December.
    9. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
    10. Ardia, David & Hoogerheide, Lennart F. & van Dijk, Herman K., 2008. "AdMit: Adaptive Mixtures of Student-t Distributions," DQE Working Papers 10, Department of Quantitative Economics, University of Freiburg/Fribourg Switzerland, revised 07 Jan 2009.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bauwens, Luc & Rombouts, Jeroen V.K., 2012. "On marginal likelihood computation in change-point models," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 56(11), pages 3415-3429.
    2. Lennart Hoogerheide & Richard Kleijn & Francesco Ravazzolo & Herman K. Van Dijk & Marno Verbeek, 2010. "Forecast accuracy and economic gains from Bayesian model averaging using time-varying weights," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(1-2), pages 251-269.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    marginal likelihood; Bayes factor; importance sampling; Markov chain Monte Carlo; bridge sampling; adaptive mixture of Student-t distributions;

    JEL classification:

    • C11 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Bayesian Analysis: General
    • C15 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Statistical Simulation Methods: General
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection

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