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Monday, October 24, 2016


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The Information Systems and Statistics Research Seminar Series

Presented by the Paul H. Chook Department of Information Systems and Statistics

A Scalable Empirical Bayes Approach to Variable Selection
Haim Bar, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut

Tuesday, October 25, 12:30-1:45pm, NVC 11-217


From:  Prof. Rongning Wu, Paul H. Chook Department of Information Systems and Statistics

Prof. Bar’s Abstract

We develop a model-based empirical Bayes approach to variable selection problems in which the number of predictors is very large, possibly much larger than the number of responses (the so-called “large p, small n” problem). We consider the multiple linear regression setting, in which the response is assumed to be a continuous variable and it is a linear function of the predictors plus error. The explanatory variables in the linear model can have a positive effect on the response, a negative effect, or no effect. We model the effects of the linear predictors as a three component mixture in which a key assumption is that only a small (unknown) fraction of the candidate predictors have a non-zero effect on the response variable. By treating the coefficients as random effects we develop an approach that is computationally efficient because the number of parameters that have to be estimated is small and remains constant regardless of the number of explanatory variables. The model parameters are estimated using the EM algorithm, which is scalable and leads to significantly faster convergence, compared with simulation-based methods.

This is joint work with James Booth and Martin Wells (Cornell University)