Bayesian Analysis

The Performance of Covariance Selection Methods That Consider Decomposable Models Only

A. Marie Fitch, M. Beatrix Jones, and Hélène Massam

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We consider the behavior of Bayesian procedures that perform model selection for decomposable Gaussian graphical models when the true model is in fact non-decomposable. We examine the asymptotic behavior of the posterior when models are misspecified in this way, and find that the posterior will converge to graphical structures that are minimal triangulations of the true structure. The marginal log likelihood ratio comparing different minimal triangulations is stochastically bounded, and appears to remain data dependent regardless of the sample size. The covariance matrices corresponding to the different minimal triangulations are essentially equivalent, so model averaging is of minimal benefit. Using simulated data sets and a particular high performing Bayesian method for fitting decomposable models, feature inclusion stochastic search, we illustrate that these predictions are borne out in practice. Finally, a comparison is made to penalized likelihood methods for graphical models, which make no decomposability restriction. Despite its inability to fit the true model, feature inclusion stochastic search produces models that are competitive or superior to the penalized likelihood methods, especially at higher dimensions.

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Bayesian Anal., Volume 9, Number 3 (2014), 659-684.

First available in Project Euclid: 5 September 2014

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undirected Gaussian graphical models covariance selection feature inclusion stochastic search decomposable non-decomposable graphical lasso asymptotic behavior


Fitch, A. Marie; Jones, M. Beatrix; Massam, Hélène. The Performance of Covariance Selection Methods That Consider Decomposable Models Only. Bayesian Anal. 9 (2014), no. 3, 659--684. doi:10.1214/14-BA874.

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