Bayesian conjugacy in probit, tobit, multinomial probit and extensions: A review and new results

by   Niccolò Anceschi, et al.

A broad class of models that routinely appear in several fields can be expressed as partially or fully discretized Gaussian linear regressions. Besides including basic Gaussian response settings, this class also encompasses probit, multinomial probit and tobit regression, among others, thereby yielding to one of the most widely-implemented families of models in applications. The relevance of such representations has stimulated decades of research in the Bayesian field, mostly motivated by the fact that, unlike for Gaussian linear regression, the posterior distribution induced by such models does not apparently belong to a known class, under the commonly-assumed Gaussian priors for the coefficients. This has motivated several solutions for posterior inference relying on sampling-based strategies or on deterministic approximations that, however, still experience computational and accuracy issues, especially in high dimensions. The scope of this article is to review, unify and extend recent advances in Bayesian inference and computation for this class of models. To address such a goal, we prove that the likelihoods induced by these formulations share a common analytical structure that implies conjugacy with a broad class of distributions, namely the unified skew-normals (SUN), that generalize Gaussians to skewed contexts. This result unifies and extends recent conjugacy properties for specific models within the class analyzed, and opens avenues for improved posterior inference, under a broader class of formulations and priors, via novel closed-form expressions, i.i.d. samplers from the exact SUN posteriors, and more accurate and scalable approximations from VB and EP. Such advantages are illustrated in simulations and are expected to facilitate the routine-use of these core Bayesian models, while providing a novel framework to study theoretical properties and develop future extensions.


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