Probabilistic Forecasting and Comparative Model Assessment Based on Markov Chain Monte Carlo Output

24 Aug 2016  ·  Fabian Krüger, Sebastian Lerch, Thordis L. Thorarinsdottir, Tilmann Gneiting ·

In Bayesian inference, predictive distributions are typically available only through a sample generated via Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) or related algorithms. In this paper, we conduct a systematic analysis of how to make and evaluate probabilistic forecasts from such simulation output. Based on proper scoring rules, we develop a notion of consistency that allows to assess the adequacy of methods for estimating the stationary distribution underlying the simulation output. We then provide asymptotic results that account for the salient features of Bayesian posterior simulators, and derive conditions under which choices from the literature satisfy our notion of consistency. Importantly, these conditions depend on the scoring rule being used, such that the choices of approximation method and scoring rule are intertwined. While the logarithmic rule requires fairly stringent conditions, the continuous ranked probability score (CRPS) yields consistent approximations under minimal assumptions. These results are illustrated in a simulation study and an economic data example. Overall, we find that mixture-of-parameters approximations which exploit the parametric structure of Bayesian models perform particularly well.

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