Stephen Walker and co-authors to present their paper “Martingale Posterior Distributions” to the Royal Statistical Society

November 28, 2022 • by the Department of Statistics and Data Sciences




The logo for the Royal Statistical Society

Stephen Walker (professor, Department of Mathematics and Department of Statistics and Data Sciences) and co-authors will present their paper "Martingale Posterior Distributions" to the Royal Statistical Society  on December 12, 2022.

Abstract: The prior distribution is the usual starting point for Bayesian uncertainty. In this paper, we present a different perspective which focuses on missing observations as the source of statistical uncertainty, with the parameter of interest being known precisely given the entire population. We argue that the foundation of Bayesian inference is to assign a distribution on missing observations conditional on what has been observed. In the i.i.d. setting with an observed sample of size n, the Bayesian would thus assign a predictive distribution on the missing Yn+1: ∞ conditional on Y1: n , which then induces a distribution on the parameter. We utilize Doob’s theorem, which relies on martingales, to show that choosing the Bayesian predictive distribution returns the conventional posterior as the distribution of the parameter. Taking this as our cue, we relax the predictive machine, avoiding the need for the predictive to be derived solely from the usual prior to posterior to predictive density formula. We introduce the martingale posterior distribution, which returns Bayesian uncertainty on any statistic via the direct specification of the joint predictive. To that end, we introduce new predictive methodologies for multivariate density estimation, regression and classification that build upon recent work on bivariate copulas.


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