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Concept# Beta-binomial distribution

Summary

In probability theory and statistics, the beta-binomial distribution is a family of discrete probability distributions on a finite support of non-negative integers arising when the probability of success in each of a fixed or known number of Bernoulli trials is either unknown or random. The beta-binomial distribution is the binomial distribution in which the probability of success at each of n trials is not fixed but randomly drawn from a beta distribution. It is frequently used in Bayesian statistics, empirical Bayes methods and classical statistics to capture overdispersion in binomial type distributed data.
The beta-binomial is a one-dimensional version of the Dirichlet-multinomial distribution as the binomial and beta distributions are univariate versions of the multinomial and Dirichlet distributions respectively. The special case where α and β are integers is also known as the negative hypergeometric distribution.
The Beta distribution is a conjugate distribution of the binomial distribution. This fact leads to an analytically tractable compound distribution where one can think of the parameter in the binomial distribution as being randomly drawn from a beta distribution.
Suppose we were interested in predicting the number of heads, in future trials. This is given by
Using the properties of the beta function, this can alternatively be written
The beta-binomial distribution can also be motivated via an urn model for positive integer values of α and β, known as the Pólya urn model. Specifically, imagine an urn containing α red balls and β black balls, where random draws are made. If a red ball is observed, then two red balls are returned to the urn. Likewise, if a black ball is drawn, then two black balls are returned to the urn. If this is repeated n times, then the probability of observing x red balls follows a beta-binomial distribution with parameters n, α and β.
If the random draws are with simple replacement (no balls over and above the observed ball are added to the urn), then the distribution follows a binomial distribution and if the random draws are made without replacement, the distribution follows a hypergeometric distribution.

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