# Detecting conflicting summary statistics in likelihood-free inference

Bayesian likelihood-free methods implement Bayesian inference using simulation of data from the model to substitute for intractable likelihood evaluations. Most likelihood-free inference methods replace the full data set with a summary statistic before performing Bayesian inference, and the choice of this statistic is often difficult. The summary statistic should be low-dimensional for computational reasons, while retaining as much information as possible about the parameter. Using a recent idea from the interpretable machine learning literature, we develop some regression-based diagnostic methods which are useful for detecting when different parts of a summary statistic vector contain conflicting information about the model parameters. Conflicts of this kind complicate summary statistic choice, and detecting them can be insightful about model deficiencies and guide model improvement. The diagnostic methods developed are based on regression approaches to likelihood-free inference, in which the regression model estimates the posterior density using summary statistics as features. Deletion and imputation of part of the summary statistic vector within the regression model can remove conflicts and approximate posterior distributions for summary statistic subsets. A larger than expected change in the estimated posterior density following deletion and imputation can indicate a conflict in which inferences of interest are affected. The usefulness of the new methods is demonstrated in a number of real examples.

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