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Category# Bayesian statistics

Summary

Bayesian statistics (ˈbeɪziən or ˈbeɪʒən ) is a theory in the field of statistics based on the Bayesian interpretation of probability where probability expresses a degree of belief in an event. The degree of belief may be based on prior knowledge about the event, such as the results of previous experiments, or on personal beliefs about the event. This differs from a number of other interpretations of probability, such as the frequentist interpretation that views probability as the limit of the relative frequency of an event after many trials.
Bayesian statistical methods use Bayes' theorem to compute and update probabilities after obtaining new data. Bayes' theorem describes the conditional probability of an event based on data as well as prior information or beliefs about the event or conditions related to the event. For example, in Bayesian inference, Bayes' theorem can be used to estimate the parameters of a probability distribution or statistical model. Since Bayesian statistics treats probability as a degree of belief, Bayes' theorem can directly assign a probability distribution that quantifies the belief to the parameter or set of parameters.
Bayesian statistics is named after Thomas Bayes, who formulated a specific case of Bayes' theorem in a paper published in 1763. In several papers spanning from the late 18th to the early 19th centuries, Pierre-Simon Laplace developed the Bayesian interpretation of probability. Laplace used methods that would now be considered Bayesian to solve a number of statistical problems. Many Bayesian methods were developed by later authors, but the term was not commonly used to describe such methods until the 1950s. During much of the 20th century, Bayesian methods were viewed unfavorably by many statisticians due to philosophical and practical considerations. Many Bayesian methods required much computation to complete, and most methods that were widely used during the century were based on the frequentist interpretation.

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Categorical distribution

In probability theory and statistics, a categorical distribution (also called a generalized Bernoulli distribution, multinoulli distribution) is a discrete probability distribution that describes the possible results of a random variable that can take on one of K possible categories, with the probability of each category separately specified. There is no innate underlying ordering of these outcomes, but numerical labels are often attached for convenience in describing the distribution, (e.g. 1 to K).

Multinomial distribution

In probability theory, the multinomial distribution is a generalization of the binomial distribution. For example, it models the probability of counts for each side of a k-sided dice rolled n times. For n independent trials each of which leads to a success for exactly one of k categories, with each category having a given fixed success probability, the multinomial distribution gives the probability of any particular combination of numbers of successes for the various categories.

Dirichlet distribution

In probability and statistics, the Dirichlet distribution (after Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet), often denoted , is a family of continuous multivariate probability distributions parameterized by a vector of positive reals. It is a multivariate generalization of the beta distribution, hence its alternative name of multivariate beta distribution (MBD). Dirichlet distributions are commonly used as prior distributions in Bayesian statistics, and in fact, the Dirichlet distribution is the conjugate prior of the categorical distribution and multinomial distribution.

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A statistical hypothesis test is a method of statistical inference used to decide whether the data at hand sufficiently support a particular hypothesis. Hypothesis testing allows us to make probabilistic statements about population parameters. While hypothesis testing was popularized early in the 20th century, early forms were used in the 1700s. The first use is credited to John Arbuthnot (1710), followed by Pierre-Simon Laplace (1770s), in analyzing the human sex ratio at birth; see .

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