A Bayesian model for an increasing function, in Stan!

Following up on yesterday’s post, here’s David Chudzicki’s story (with graphs and Stan/R code!) of how he fit a model for an increasing function (“isotonic regression”). Chudzicki writes:

This post will describe a way I came up with of fitting a function that’s constrained to be increasing, using Stan. If you want practical help, standard statistical approaches, or expert research, this isn’t the place for you (look up “isotonic regression” or “Bayesian isotonic regression” or David Dunson). This is the place for you if you want to read about how I thought about setting up a model, implemented the model in Stan, and created graphics to understand what was going on.

The background is that a simple, natural-seeming uniform prior on the function values does not work so well—it’s a much stronger prior distribution than one might naively think, just one of those unexpected aspects of high-dimensional probability distributions. So Chudzicki sets up a more general family with a hyper parameter.

One thing I like about this example is that it’s not the latest research; it has a charming DIY flavor that might make you feel that you too can patch together a model in Stan to do what you need.

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