15,590 research outputs found

    Nonparametric Bayesian multiple testing for longitudinal performance stratification

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    This paper describes a framework for flexible multiple hypothesis testing of autoregressive time series. The modeling approach is Bayesian, though a blend of frequentist and Bayesian reasoning is used to evaluate procedures. Nonparametric characterizations of both the null and alternative hypotheses will be shown to be the key robustification step necessary to ensure reasonable Type-I error performance. The methodology is applied to part of a large database containing up to 50 years of corporate performance statistics on 24,157 publicly traded American companies, where the primary goal of the analysis is to flag companies whose historical performance is significantly different from that expected due to chance.Comment: Published in at http://dx.doi.org/10.1214/09-AOAS252 the Annals of Applied Statistics (http://www.imstat.org/aoas/) by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (http://www.imstat.org

    Bayes and empirical-Bayes multiplicity adjustment in the variable-selection problem

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    This paper studies the multiplicity-correction effect of standard Bayesian variable-selection priors in linear regression. Our first goal is to clarify when, and how, multiplicity correction happens automatically in Bayesian analysis, and to distinguish this correction from the Bayesian Ockham's-razor effect. Our second goal is to contrast empirical-Bayes and fully Bayesian approaches to variable selection through examples, theoretical results and simulations. Considerable differences between the two approaches are found. In particular, we prove a theorem that characterizes a surprising aymptotic discrepancy between fully Bayes and empirical Bayes. This discrepancy arises from a different source than the failure to account for hyperparameter uncertainty in the empirical-Bayes estimate. Indeed, even at the extreme, when the empirical-Bayes estimate converges asymptotically to the true variable-inclusion probability, the potential for a serious difference remains.Comment: Published in at http://dx.doi.org/10.1214/10-AOS792 the Annals of Statistics (http://www.imstat.org/aos/) by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (http://www.imstat.org

    On the half-Cauchy prior for a global scale parameter

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    This paper argues that the half-Cauchy distribution should replace the inverse-Gamma distribution as a default prior for a top-level scale parameter in Bayesian hierarchical models, at least for cases where a proper prior is necessary. Our arguments involve a blend of Bayesian and frequentist reasoning, and are intended to complement the original case made by Gelman (2006) in support of the folded-t family of priors. First, we generalize the half-Cauchy prior to the wider class of hypergeometric inverted-beta priors. We derive expressions for posterior moments and marginal densities when these priors are used for a top-level normal variance in a Bayesian hierarchical model. We go on to prove a proposition that, together with the results for moments and marginals, allows us to characterize the frequentist risk of the Bayes estimators under all global-shrinkage priors in the class. These theoretical results, in turn, allow us to study the frequentist properties of the half-Cauchy prior versus a wide class of alternatives. The half-Cauchy occupies a sensible 'middle ground' within this class: it performs very well near the origin, but does not lead to drastic compromises in other parts of the parameter space. This provides an alternative, classical justification for the repeated, routine use of this prior. We also consider situations where the underlying mean vector is sparse, where we argue that the usual conjugate choice of an inverse-gamma prior is particularly inappropriate, and can lead to highly distorted posterior inferences. Finally, we briefly summarize some open issues in the specification of default priors for scale terms in hierarchical models

    Good, great, or lucky? Screening for firms with sustained superior performance using heavy-tailed priors

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    This paper examines historical patterns of ROA (return on assets) for a cohort of 53,038 publicly traded firms across 93 countries, measured over the past 45 years. Our goal is to screen for firms whose ROA trajectories suggest that they have systematically outperformed their peer groups over time. Such a project faces at least three statistical difficulties: adjustment for relevant covariates, massive multiplicity, and longitudinal dependence. We conclude that, once these difficulties are taken into account, demonstrably superior performance appears to be quite rare. We compare our findings with other recent management studies on the same subject, and with the popular literature on corporate success. Our methodological contribution is to propose a new class of priors for use in large-scale simultaneous testing. These priors are based on the hypergeometric inverted-beta family, and have two main attractive features: heavy tails and computational tractability. The family is a four-parameter generalization of the normal/inverted-beta prior, and is the natural conjugate prior for shrinkage coefficients in a hierarchical normal model. Our results emphasize the usefulness of these heavy-tailed priors in large multiple-testing problems, as they have a mild rate of tail decay in the marginal likelihood m(y)m(y)---a property long recognized to be important in testing.Comment: Published in at http://dx.doi.org/10.1214/11-AOAS512 the Annals of Applied Statistics (http://www.imstat.org/aoas/) by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (http://www.imstat.org
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