Regression modelling with I-priors: With applications to functional, multilevel and longitudinal data


We introduce the I-prior methodology as a unifying framework for estimating a variety of regression models, including varying coefficient, multilevel, longitudinal models, and models with functional covariates and responses. It can also be used for multi-class classification, with low or high dimensional covariates. The I-prior is generally defined as a maximum entropy prior. For a regression function, the I-prior is Gaussian with covariance kernel proportional to the Fisher information on the regression function, which is estimated by its posterior distribution under the I-prior. The I-prior has the intuitively appealing property that the more information is available on a linear functional of the regression function, the larger the prior variance, and the smaller the influence of the prior mean on the posterior distribution. Advantages compared to competing methods, such as Gaussian process regression or Tikhonov regularization, are ease of estimation and model comparison. In particular, we develop an EM algorithm with a simple E and M step for estimating hyperparameters, facilitating estimation for complex models. We also propose a novel parsimonious model formulation, requiring a single scale parameter for each (possibly multidimensional) covariate and no further parameters for interaction effects. This simplifies estimation because fewer hyperparameters need to be estimated, and also simplifies model comparison of models with the same covariates but different interaction effects; in this case, the model with the highest estimated likelihood can be selected. Using a number of widely analyzed real data sets we show that predictive performance of our methodology is competitive. An R-package implementing the methodology is available (Jamil, 2019).

arXiv:2007.15766 [math, stat]
Haziq Jamil
Haziq Jamil
Assistant Professor in Statistics

My research interests include statistical theory, methods and computation, with applications towards the social sciences.