Using Hierarchical Centering to Facilitate a Reversible Jump MCMC Algorithm for Random Effects Models

Cornelia Sabrina Oedekoven, Ruth King, Stephen Terrence Buckland, Monique Lea MacKenzie, Kristine Evans, Wes Burger Jr.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Hierarchical centering has been described as a reparameterisation method applicable to random effects models. It has been shown to improve mixing of models in the context of Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods. A hierarchical centering approach is proposed for reversible jump MCMC (RJMCMC) chains which builds upon the hierarchical centering methods for MCMC chains and uses them to reparameterize models in an RJMCMC algorithm. Although these methods may be applicable to models with other error distributions, the case is described for a log-linear Poisson model where the expected value λ includes fixed effect covariates and a random effect for
which normality is assumed with a zero-mean and unknown standard deviation. For the proposed RJMCMC algorithm including hierarchical centering, the models are reparameterized by modelling the mean of the random effect coefficients as a function of the intercept of the λ model and one or more of the available fixed effect covariates depending on the model. The method is appro-
priate when fixed-effect covariates are constant within random effect groups. This has an effect on the dynamics of the RJMCMC algorithm and improves model mixing. The methods are applied to a case study of point transects of indigo buntings where, without hierarchical centering, the RJMCMC algorithm had poor mixing and the estimated posterior distribution depended on the starting model. With hierarchical centering on the other hand, the chain moved freely over model and parameter space. These results are confirmed with a simulation study. Hence, the proposed methods should be considered as a regular strategy for implementing models with random effects in RJMCMC algorithms; they facilitate convergence of these algorithms and help avoid false inference on model parameters
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-90
JournalComputational statistics & data analysis
Volume98
Early online date2 Jan 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

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