**A** chance question on X validated made me reconsider about the minimaxity over the weekend. Consider a Geometric G(p) variate X. What is the minimax estimator of p under squared error loss ? I thought it could be obtained via (Beta) conjugate priors, but following Dyubin (1978) the minimax estimator corresponds to a prior with point masses at ¼ and 1, resulting in a constant estimator equal to ¾ everywhere, except when X=0 where it is equal to 1. The actual question used a penalised qaudratic loss, dividing the squared error by p(1-p), which penalizes very strongly errors at p=0,1, and hence suggested an estimator equal to 1 when X=0 and to 0 otherwise. This proves to be the (unique) minimax estimator. With constant risk equal to 1. This reminded me of this fantastic 1984 paper by Georges Casella and Bill Strawderman on the estimation of the normal bounded mean, where the least favourable prior is supported by two atoms if the bound is small enough. Figure 1 in the Negative Binomial extension by Morozov and Syrova (2022) exploits the same principle. (Nothing Orwellian there!) If nothing else, a nice illustration for my Bayesian decision theory course!

## Archive for minimaxity

## a [counter]example of minimaxity

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics, University life with tags 1984, cross validated, Geometric distribution, George Orwell, least favourable priors, minimaxity, negative binomial distribution, Statistical Decision Theory and Bayesian Analysis, The Bayesian Choice on December 14, 2022 by xi'an## value of a chess game

Posted in pictures, Statistics, University life with tags CEREMADE, chess, France, Isle of Lewis, maximin, minimaxity, Paris, PNAS, Scotland, Shannon, Université Paris Dauphine, value of a game, webinar on April 15, 2020 by xi'an**I**n our (internal) webinar at CEREMADE today, Miguel Oliu Barton gave a talk on the recent result his student Luc Attia and himself obtained, namely a tractable way of finding the value of a game (when minimax equals maximin), result that got recently published in PNAS:

“Stochastic games were introduced by the Nobel Memorial Prize winner Lloyd Shapley in 1953 to model dynamic interactions in which the environment changes in response to the players’ behavior. The theory of stochastic games and its applications have been studied in several scientific disciplines, including economics, operations research, evolutionary biology, and computer science. In addition, mathematical tools that were used and developed in the study of stochastic games are used by mathematicians and computer scientists in other fields. This paper contributes to the theory of stochastic games by providing a tractable formula for the value of finite competitive stochastic games. This result settles a major open problem which remained unsolved for nearly 40 years.”

While I did not see a direct consequence of this result in regular statistics, I found most interesting the comment made at one point that chess (with forced nullity after repetitions) had a value, by virtue of Zermelo’s theorem. As I had never considered the question (contrary to Shannon!). This value remains unknown.

## O’Bayes 19/3

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags #betterposter, Beamer, BFF4, Coventry, Dickey-Savage ratio, dominating measure, frequency properties, minimaxity, O'Bayes 2019, poster session, SafeBayes, sent to Coventry, town of Warwick, uniform distribution, University of Coventry, University of Warwick on July 2, 2019 by xi'an**N**ancy Reid gave the first talk of the [Canada] day, in an impressive comparison of all approaches in statistics that involve a distribution of sorts on the parameter, connected with the presentation she gave at BFF4 in Harvard two years ago, including safe Bayes options this time. This was related to several (most?) of the talks at the conference, given the level of worry (!) about the choice of a prior distribution. But the main assessment of the methods still seemed to be centred on a frequentist notion of calibration, meaning that epistemic interpretations of probabilities and hence most of Bayesian answers were disqualified from the start.

In connection with Nancy’s focus, Peter Hoff’s talk also concentrated on frequency valid confidence intervals in (linear) hierarchical models. Using prior information or structure to build better and shrinkage-like confidence intervals at a given confidence level. But not in the decision-theoretic way adopted by George Casella, Bill Strawderman and others in the 1980’s. And also making me wonder at the relevance of contemplating a fixed coverage as a natural goal. Above, a side result shown by Peter that I did not know and which may prove useful for Monte Carlo simulation.

Jaeyong Lee worked on a complex model for banded matrices that starts with a regular Wishart prior on the unrestricted space of matrices, computes the posterior and then projects this distribution onto the constrained subspace. (There is a rather consequent literature on this subject, including works by David Dunson in the past decade of which I was unaware.) This is a smart demarginalisation idea but I wonder a wee bit at the notion as the constrained space has measure zero for the larger model. This could explain for the resulting posterior not being a true posterior for the constrained model in the sense that there is no prior over the constrained space that could return such a posterior. Another form of marginalisation paradox. The crux of the paper is however about constructing a functional form of minimaxity. In his discussion of the paper, Guido Consonni provided a representation of the post-processed posterior (P³) that involves the Dickey-Savage ratio, sort of, making me more convinced of the connection.

As a lighter aside, one item of local information I should definitely have broadcasted more loudly and long enough in advance to the conference participants is that the University of Warwick is not located in ye olde town of Warwick, where there is no university, but on the outskirts of the city of Coventry, but not to be confused with the University of Coventry. Located in Coventry.

## distributed posteriors

Posted in Books, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags CDT, high dimensions, minimaxity, OxWaSP, parallel MCMC, scalable MCMC, statistical theory, University of Warwick on February 27, 2019 by xi'an**A**nother presentation by our OxWaSP students introduced me to the notion of distributed posteriors, following a 2018 paper by Botond Szabó and Harry van Zanten. Which corresponds to the construction of posteriors when conducting a divide & conquer strategy. The authors show that an adaptation of the prior to the division of the sample is necessary to recover the (minimax) convergence rate obtained in the non-distributed case. This is somewhat annoying, except that the adaptation amounts to take the original prior to the power 1/m, when m is the number of divisions. They further show that when the regularity (parameter) of the model is unknown, the optimal rate cannot be recovered unless stronger assumptions are made on the non-zero parameters of the model.

“First of all, we show that depending on the communication budget, it might be advantageous to group local machines and let different groups work on different aspects of the high-dimensional object of interest. Secondly, we show that it is possible to have adaptation in communication restricted distributed settings, i.e. to have data-driven tuning that automatically achieves the correct bias-variance trade-off.”

I find the paper of considerable interest for scalable MCMC methods, even though the setting may happen to sound too formal, because the study incorporates parallel computing constraints. (Although I did not investigate the more theoretical aspects of the paper.)