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Basics of Bayesian Methods

  • Sujit K. Ghosh
Protocol
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 620)

Abstract

Bayesian methods are rapidly becoming popular tools for making statistical inference in various fields of science including biology, engineering, finance, and genetics. One of the key aspects of Bayesian inferential method is its logical foundation that provides a coherent framework to utilize not only empirical but also scientific information available to a researcher. Prior knowledge arising from scientific background, expert judgment, or previously collected data is used to build a prior distribution which is then combined with current data via the likelihood function to characterize the current state of knowledge using the so-called posterior distribution. Bayesian methods allow the use of models of complex physical phenomena that were previously too difficult to estimate (e.g., using asymptotic approximations). Bayesian methods offer a means of more fully understanding issues that are central to many practical problems by allowing researchers to build integrated models based on hierarchical conditional distributions that can be estimated even with limited amounts of data. Furthermore, advances in numerical integration methods, particularly those based on Monte Carlo methods, have made it possible to compute the optimal Bayes estimators. However, there is a reasonably wide gap between the background of the empirically trained scientists and the full weight of Bayesian statistical inference. Hence, one of the goals of this chapter is to bridge the gap by offering elementary to advanced concepts that emphasize linkages between standard approaches and full probability modeling via Bayesian methods.

Key words

Bayesian inference hierarchical models likelihood function Monte Carlo methods posterior distribution prior distribution 

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Copyright information

© Humana Press, a part of Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sujit K. Ghosh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of StatisticsNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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