Inverse stable prior for exponential models

by   Dexter Cahoy, et al.

We consider a class of non-conjugate priors as a mixing family of distributions for a parameter (e.g., Poisson or gamma rate, inverse scale or precision of an inverse-gamma, inverse variance of a normal distribution) of an exponential subclass of discrete and continuous data distributions. The prior class is proper, nonzero at the origin (unlike the gamma prior with shape parameter less than one), and is easy to generate random numbers from. The prior class provides flexibility (includes the Airy and the half-normal) in capturing different prior beliefs as modulated by a bounded parameter α∈ (0, 1). The resulting posterior family in the single-parameter case can be expressed in closed-form and is proper, making calibration unnecessary. The mixing induced by the inverse stable family results to a marginal prior distribution in the form of a generalized Mittag-Leffler function, which covers a broad array of distributional shapes. We derive closed-form expressions of some properties like the moment generating function and moments. We propose algorithms to generate samples from the posterior distribution and calculate the Bayes estimators for real data analysis. We formulate the predictive prior and posterior distributions. We test the proposed Bayes estimators using Monte Carlo simulations. The extension to hierarchical modeling and inverse variance components models is straightforward. We illustrate the methodology using a real data set, introduce a hyperprior density for the hyperparameters, and extend the model to a heavy-tailed distribution.


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