Bayesian nonparametric analysis of Kingman's coalescent

by   Stefano Favaro, et al.

Kingman's coalescent is one of the most popular models in population genetics. It describes the genealogy of a population whose genetic composition evolves in time according to the Wright-Fisher model, or suitable approximations of it belonging to the broad class of Fleming-Viot processes. Ancestral inference under Kingman's coalescent has had much attention in the literature, both in practical data analysis, and from a theoretical and methodological point of view. Given a sample of individuals taken from the population at time t>0, most contributions have aimed at making frequentist or Bayesian parametric inference on quantities related to the genealogy of the sample. In this paper we propose a Bayesian nonparametric predictive approach to ancestral inference. That is, under the prior assumption that the composition of the population evolves in time according to a neutral Fleming-Viot process, and given the information contained in an initial sample of m individuals taken from the population at time t>0, we estimate quantities related to the genealogy of an additional unobservable sample of size m^'≥1. As a by-product of our analysis we introduce a class of Bayesian nonparametric estimators (predictors) which can be thought of as Good-Turing type estimators for ancestral inference. The proposed approach is illustrated through an application to genetic data.


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