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This vignette describes {gratia}’s tools for posterior simulation, a powerful way of doing inference using estimated generalized additive models.

We’ll need the following packages for this vignette:

pkgs <- c(
  "mgcv", "gratia", "dplyr", "tidyr", "ggplot2", "ggdist",
  "distributional", "tibble", "withr", "patchwork"
vapply(pkgs, library, logical(1L), logical.return = TRUE, character.only = TRUE)
#> Loading required package: nlme
#> This is mgcv 1.9-1. For overview type 'help("mgcv-package")'.
#> Attaching package: 'dplyr'
#> The following object is masked from 'package:nlme':
#>     collapse
#> The following objects are masked from 'package:stats':
#>     filter, lag
#> The following objects are masked from 'package:base':
#>     intersect, setdiff, setequal, union
#>           mgcv         gratia          dplyr          tidyr        ggplot2 
#>           TRUE           TRUE           TRUE           TRUE           TRUE 
#>         ggdist distributional         tibble          withr      patchwork 
#>           TRUE           TRUE           TRUE           TRUE           TRUE

A generalized additive model (GAM) has the following form

g(μi)=ηi=Ai+𝐗i𝛄+j=1Jfj(xij),yiEF(μi,ϕ) g(\mu_i) = \eta_i = A_i + \mathbf{X}_i \boldsymbol{\gamma} + \sum_{j=1}^{J} f_j(x_{ij}), \; y_i \sim \text{EF}(\mu_i, \phi)

where g()g() is the link function, AA is an offset, 𝐗i\mathbf{X}_i is the iith row of a parametric model matrix, 𝛄\boldsymbol{\gamma} is a vector of parameters for the parametric terms, fjf_j is a smooth function of covariate xjx_j. yiEF(μi,ϕ)y_i \sim \text{EF}(\mu_i, \phi) denotes that the observations yiy_i are distributed as some member of the exponential family of distributions with mean μi\mu_i and scale parameter ϕ\phi.

The smooth functions fjf_j are represented in the model via penalised splines basis expansions of the covariates, that are a weighted sum of basis functions

fj(xij)=k=1Kβjkbjk(xij) f_j(x_{ij}) = \sum_{k=1}^{K} \beta_{jk} b_{jk}(x_{ij})

where βjk\beta_{jk} is the weight (coefficient) associated with the kkth basis function bjk()b_{jk}() evaluated at the covariate value xijx_{ij} for the jjth smooth function fjf_j. Wiggliness penalties jλj𝛃𝖳𝐒j𝛃\sum_j \lambda_j \boldsymbol{\beta}^{\mathsf{T}} \mathbf{S}_j \boldsymbol{\beta} controls the degree of smoothing applied to the fjf_j through the smoothing parameters λj\lambda_j.

Having fitted the GAM in mgcv using REML or ML smoothness selection we obtain a vector of coefficients 𝛃̂\hat{\boldsymbol{\beta}} (which also includes the coefficients for the parametric terms, , for convenience). The estimates of these coefficients are conditional upon the data and the selected values of the smoothing parameters λj\lambda_j. Using the Bayesian view of smoothing via REML smoothness selection, 𝛃\boldsymbol{\beta} has a multivariate normal posterior distribution 𝛃|𝛈,𝛌MVN(𝛃̂,𝐕b)\boldsymbol{\beta} | \boldsymbol{\eta}, \boldsymbol{\lambda} \sim \text{MVN}(\hat{\boldsymbol{\beta}}, \mathbf{V}_{\text{b}}), where 𝐕b\mathbf{V}_{\text{b}} is the Bayesian covariance matrix of the estimated parameters, (the subscript b\text{b} is used to differentiate this Bayesian covariance matrix from the frequentist version which is also available in the mgcv model output).

What are we simulating?

Posterior simulation involves randomly sampling from MVN(𝛃̂,𝐕b)\text{MVN}(\hat{\boldsymbol{\beta}}, \mathbf{V}_{\text{b}}) or EF(μi,ϕ)\text{EF}(\mu_i, \phi), or both.

We might simulate from the posterior distribution of a single estimated smooth function to see the uncertainty in the estimate of that function. To do this we simulate for just a subset of βj\beta_{j \cdot} associated with the fjf_j of interest. Instead, we might be interested in the uncertainty in the expectation (expected value) of the model at some given values of the covariates, in which case we can simulate for all 𝛃\boldsymbol{\beta} to sample from the posterior of 𝔼(yi)\mathbb{E}(y_i), the fitted values of the model. Or we might want to generate new values of response variable via draws from the conditional distribution of the response, by simulating new response data 𝕪*\mathbb{y}^{\ast}, at either the observed 𝐱\mathbf{x} or new values $^{}, from yi*|𝛈,𝐱EF(μî,ϕ)y^{\ast}_i | \boldsymbol{\eta}, \mathbf{x} \sim \text{EF}(\hat{\mu_i}, \phi). Finally, we can combine posterior simulation from both distributions to generate posterior draws for new data 𝕪*\mathbb{y}^{\ast} that also include the uncertainty in the expected values.

gratia has functionality for all these options through the following functions

  1. smooth_samples() generates draws from the posterior distribution of single estimated smooth functions,
  2. fitted_samples() generates draws from the posterior distribution of 𝔼(yi|𝐗i=xi)\mathbb{E}(y_i | \mathbf{X}_i = x_i), the expected value of the responss,
  3. predicted_samples(), generates new response data given supplied values of covariates yi*|𝐗i=xi*y^{\ast}_i | \mathbf{X}_i = x^{\ast}_i
  4. posterior_samples(), generates draws from the posterior distribution of the model, including the uncertainty in the estimated parameters of that model.

In simpler terms, fitted_samples() generates predictions about the “average” or expected value of the response at values of the covariates. These predictions only include the uncertainty in the estimated values of the model coefficients. In contrast, posterior_samples() generates predictions of the actual values of the response we might expect to observe (if the model is correct) given values of the covariates. These predicted values include the variance of the sampling distribution (error term). predicted_samples() lies somewhere in between these two; the predicted values only include the variation in the sampling distribution, and take the model as fixed, known.

It is worth reminding ourselves that these posterior draws are all conditional upon the selected values of the smoothing parameter(s) λj\lambda_j. We act as if the wiggliness of the estimated smooths was known, when in actual fact we estimated (selected is perhaps a better description) these wiglinesses from the data during model fitting. If the estimated GAM has been fitted with method argument "REML", or "ML", then a version of 𝐕b\mathbf{V}_{\text{b}} that is corrected for having selected smoothing parameters, 𝐕c\mathbf{V}_{\text{c}}, is generally available. This allows, to an extent, for posterior simulation to account for the additional source of uncertainty of having chosen then values of 𝛌\boldsymbol{\lambda}.

There are two additional functions available in gratia that do posterior simulation:

gratia provides simulate() methods for models estimated using gam(), bam(), and gamm(), as well as those fitted via scam() in the scam package. simulate() is a base R convention that does the same thing as predicted_samples(), just in a non-tidy way (that is not pejorative; it returns the simulated response values as a matrix, which is arguably more useful if you are doing math or further statistical computation.) derivative_samples() provides draws from the posterior distribution of the derivative of response variable for a small change in a focal covariate value. derivative_samples() is a less general version of fitted_samples(); you could achieve the same thing by two separate calls to fitted_samples(). We’ll reserve discussion of derivative_samples() to a separate vignette focused on estimating derivatives from GAMs.

In the following sections we’ll look at each of the four main posterior simulation functions in turn.

Posterior smooths and smooth_samples()

We can sample from the posterior distribution of the coefficients of a particular smooth β̂j\hat{\beta}_j given the values of the smoothing parameters 𝛌̂\hat{\boldsymbol{\lambda}}. We generate posterior samples of smooths by sampling 𝛃jN(β̂j,𝐕β̂j)\boldsymbol{\beta}_{j\star} \sim N(\hat{\beta}_j, \mathbf{V}_{\hat{\beta}_j}) and forming 𝐗𝛃̂j𝛃j𝖳\mathbf{X}_{\hat{\boldsymbol{\beta}}_j} \boldsymbol{\beta}_{j\star}^{\mathsf{T}}. This sampling can be done using smooth_samples().

To illustrate this, we’ll simulate data from Gu & Wabha’s 4 smooth example, and fit a GAM to the simulated data

ss_df <- data_sim("eg1", seed = 42)
m_ss <- gam(y ~ s(x0) + s(x1) + s(x2) + s(x3), data = ss_df, method = "REML")

When we are simulating from the posterior distribution of an estimated smooth, we are only sampling from the coefficients of the particular smooth. In this model, the coefficients for the smooth f(x0)f(x_0) are stored as elements 2 through 10 of the coefficients vector.

s_x0 <- get_smooth(m_ss, "s(x0)")
#> [1]  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10

To sample from the posterior distribution of these coefficients we use smooth_samples() choosing the particular smooth we’re interested in using the select argument; if we want to sample smooths from the posteriors of all smooths in a model, then select can be left at its default value.

sm_samp <- smooth_samples(m_ss, select = "s(x0)", n_vals = 100, n = 100,
  seed = 21)

Typically we’re not too bothered about the particular values of the covariate at which we evaluate the posterior smooths; below we ask for 100 evenly spaced values of x0 using n_vals, but you can provide the covariates values yourself via the data argument. The number of posterior smooths sampled is controlled by argument n; here we ask for 100 samples.

Objects returned by smooth_samples() have a draw() method available for them

sm_samp |>
  draw(alpha = 0.3)

To only draw some of the posterior smooths you can set n_samples which will randomly select that many smooths to draw (a seed can be provided via argument seed to make the set of chosen smooths repeatable.)

The credible interval of a smooth will contain most of these smooths. For the standard 95% credible interval, only some of the sampled smooths will exceed the limits of the interval.

# evaluate the fitted smooth over x0 and add on a credible interval
sm_est <- smooth_estimates(m_ss, select = "s(x0)") |>
# plot the smooth, credible interval, and posterior smooths
sm_est |>
  ggplot(aes(x = x0)) +
  geom_lineribbon(aes(ymin = .lower_ci, ymax = .upper_ci),
    orientation = "vertical", fill = "#56B4E9", alpha = 0.5
  ) +
    data = sm_samp,
    aes(y = .value, group = .draw), alpha = 0.2
  ) +
  geom_line(aes(y = .estimate), linewidth = 1, colour = "#E69F00") +
  labs(y = smooth_label(s_x0))

Following Marra & Wood (2012), the blue credible interval will contain on average 95% of the grey lines (posterior smooths) at any given value of x0x_0. This across the function frequentist interpretation of the credible interval implies that for some values of x0x_0 the coverage will be less than 95% and for other values greater than 95%.

Posterior fitted values via fitted_samples()

Posterior fitted values are draws from the posterior distribution of the mean or expected value of the response. These expectations are what is returned when you use predict() on an estimated GAM, except fitted_samples() includes the uncertainty in the estimated model coefficients, whereas predict() just uses the estimated coefficients.

In this example, using data_sim() we simulate data from example 6 of Luo & Wahba (1997)

sin(2(4x2))+2exp(256(x0.5)2) \sin(2 \cdot (4x - 2)) + 2 \cdot \exp(-256 \cdot (x - 0.5)^2)

f <- function(x) {
  sin(2 * ((4 * x) - 2)) + (2 * exp(-256 * (x - 0.5)^2))
df <- data_sim("lwf6", dist = "normal", scale = 0.3, seed = 2)
plt <- df |>
  ggplot(aes(x = x, y = y)) +
  geom_point(alpha = 0.5) +
  geom_function(fun = f)

To these data we fit an adaptive smoother

m <- gam(y ~ s(x, k = 25, bs = "ad"), data = df, method = "REML")

Next we create a data slice of 200 values over the interval (0,1) at which we’ll predict from the model and generate posterior fitted values for

new_df <- data_slice(m, x = evenly(x, lower = 0, upper = 1, n = 200)) |>
  mutate(.row = row_number())

then we compute the fitted values for the new data

fv <- fitted_values(m, data = new_df)

The posterior fitted values are drawn with fitted_samples() using a Gaussian approximation to the posterior. Here we just take 10 draws from the posterior for each observation in new_df and merge the posterior draws with the data

fs <- fitted_samples(m, data = new_df, n = 10, seed = 4) |>
  left_join(new_df |> select(.row, x), by = join_by(.row == .row))

Adding the posterior fitted samples to the plot of the data, superimposing the Bayesian credible interval on the fitted values

plt +
  geom_ribbon(data = fv, aes(y = .fitted, ymin = .lower_ci, ymax = .upper_ci),
    fill = "red", alpha = 0.3) +
  geom_line(data = fs, aes(group = .draw, x = x, y = .fitted),
    colour = "yellow", alpha = 0.4)

we see the posterior draws are largely contained the credible interval.

The difference between what we did here and what we did with smooth_samples() is that now we’re including the effects of all the other model terms. In this simple model with a single smooth and an identity link, the only difference is that the model constant term and its uncertainty is included in the samples.

Additional examples

Prediction intervals

One use for posterior simulation is to generate prediction intervals for a fitted model. Prediction intervals include two sources of uncertainty; that from the estimated model itself, plus the sampling uncertainty or error that arises from drawing observations from the conditional distribution of the response.

For example, in a Gaussian GAM, the first source of uncertainty comes from the uncertainty in the estimates of βj\beta_j, the model coefficients. This uncertainty is in the mean or expected value of the response. The second source of uncertainty stems from the error term, the estimated variance of the response. These two parameters define the conditional distribution of YiY_i. For any value of the covariate(s) 𝐗\mathbf{X}, our estimated model defines the entire distribution of the response values we might expect to observe at those covariate values.

To illustrate, we’ll fit a simple GAM with a single smooth function to data simulate from Gu & Wabha’s function f2f_2 using data_sim(). We simulate 400 values from a Gaussian distribution with variance σ2=1\sigma^2 = 1.

df <- data_sim("gwf2", n = 400, scale = 1, dist = "normal", seed = 8)

The simulated data, and the true function from which they were generated are shown below

df |>
  ggplot(aes(x = x, y = y)) +
  geom_point() +
  geom_function(fun = gw_f2, colour = "#0072B2", linewidth = 1.5)

A GAM for these data contains a single smooth function of x

m <- gam(y ~ s(x), data = df, method = "REML", family = gaussian())

If we consider a new value of the covariate x, x*=0.5x^{\ast} = 0.5, the expected value of the response given our model, 𝔼(y*|x=x*)\mathbb{E}(y^{*} | x = x^{*}), is ~2.92, which we obtain using predict()

mu <- predict(m, newdata = data.frame(x = 0.5))
#>        1 
#> 2.919094

This value is the mean of a Gaussian distribution that, if our model is a correct description of the data, describes the distribution of the values that YY might take when x=0.5x = 0.5. The Gaussian distribution is defined by two parameters; the mean, μ\mu, which describes the middle of the distribution, and the variance, σ2\sigma^2, which describes how spread out the distribution is about the mean. To fully describe the Gaussian distribution of the response when x=0.5x = 0.5, we need an estimate of the variance. We didn’t model this explicitly in the our GAM, but we get an estimate any from the model’s scale parameter, ϕ\phi. This is stored as the element scale in the model object

sigma <- m$scale
#> [1] 1.019426

We can visualise what this distribution looks like with some magic from the ggdist package

df |>
  ggplot(aes(x = x, y = y)) +
  stat_halfeye(aes(ydist = dist_normal(mean = mu, sd = sigma)),
    x = 0.5, scale = 0.2, slab_fill = "#E69F00", slab_alpha = 0.7
  ) +
  geom_point() +
  geom_function(fun = gw_f2, colour = "#0072B2", linewidth = 1.5) +
  geom_point(x = 0.5, y = mu, colour = "red")

The orange region shows the expected density of response values at x*=0.5x^{\ast} = 0.5 that our model predicts we could expect to observe. This region assumes there is no uncertainty in the estimate of the mean of variance. Prediction intervals take into account the variation about the expected value, plus the uncertainty in the expected value. fitted_values() conveniently returns this uncertainty for us, which by default is a 95% credible interval

fitted_values(m, data = data.frame(x = 0.5))
#> # A tibble: 1 × 6
#>    .row     x .fitted   .se .lower_ci .upper_ci
#>   <int> <dbl>   <dbl> <dbl>     <dbl>     <dbl>
#> 1     1   0.5    2.92 0.161      2.60      3.23

The .se column is the standard error (standard deviation) of the estimated value (.fitted), while .lower_ci and .upper_ci are lower and upper uncertainty bounds (at the 95% level) on the estimated value respectively. With GAMs fitted through mgcv we don’t have a corresponding estimate of the uncertainty in the scale parameter, ϕ\phi, which for this model is the estimated standard deviation σ̂\hat{\sigma}.

While it would be pretty easy to compute upper and lower tail quantiles of the fitted Gaussian distribution for a range of values of x to get a prediction interval, we’d be ignoring the uncertainty in the model estimates of the mean. Posterior simulation provides a simple and convenient way to generate a prediction interval that includes the model uncertainty, and which works in principle for any of the families available in mgcv (although in practice, not all families are currently supported by gratia).

To compute a prediction interval over x for our GAM, we being by creating a set of data evenly over the range of x observed in the data used to fit the model

ds <- data_slice(m, x = evenly(x, n = 200)) |>
  mutate(.row = row_number())

The added variable .row will be used later to match posterior simulated values to the row in the prediction data set ds. We also compute the fitted values for these new observations using fitted_values().

fv <- fitted_values(m, data = ds)

That step isn’t required in order to do posterior simulation with gratia, but we’ll use the fitted values later to show the model estimated values and their uncertainty in contrast to the prediction interval.

We use posterior_samples() to generate new response data for each of the new x values in ds and use a join to add the prediction data to each draw

ps <- posterior_samples(m, n = 10000, data = ds, seed = 24,
  unconditional = TRUE) |>
  left_join(ds, by = join_by(.row == .row))
#> # A tibble: 2,000,000 × 4
#>     .row .draw .response       x
#>    <int> <int>     <dbl>   <dbl>
#>  1     1     1   -1.34   0.00129
#>  2     2     1   -0.0495 0.00629
#>  3     3     1    0.0308 0.0113 
#>  4     4     1   -0.783  0.0163 
#>  5     5     1    0.861  0.0213 
#>  6     6     1    0.475  0.0263 
#>  7     7     1    0.858  0.0313 
#>  8     8     1    0.143  0.0363 
#>  9     9     1   -0.0344 0.0413 
#> 10    10     1    1.04   0.0463 
#> # ℹ 1,999,990 more rows

Here we asked for 10000 posterior draws for each new value of x. Ideally we’d generate at least three or four times this many draws to get a more precise estimate of the prediction interval, but we keep the number low in this vignette to avoid excessive computation time. We’re also using the smoothness parameter selection corrected version of the Bayesian covariance matrix; this matrix has been adjusted to account for us not knowing the value of the smoothing parameter for f(xi)f(x_i).

ps is a tibble, with n * nrow(ds) rows. The .draw variable groups the simulated values by posterior draw, while .row groups posterior draws for the same value of x. To summarise the posterior draws using {dplyr} we need a function that will compute quantiles of the posterior distribution for each value of x (each .row). The following function is a simple wrapper around the quantile() function from base R, which arranges the output from quantile() as a data frame.

quantile_fun <- function(x, probs = c(0.025, 0.5, 0.975), ...) {
    .value = quantile(x, probs = probs, ...),
    .q = probs * 100

We apply this function to our set of posterior draws, grouping by .row to summarise separately the posterior distribution for each new value of x. reframe() is used to summarise the posterior using our quantile_fun() function. For ease of use, we pivot the resulting summary from long to wide format and add on the covariate values by joining on the .row variable

p_int <- ps |>
  group_by(.row) |>
  reframe(quantile_fun(.response)) |>
    id_cols = .row, names_from = .q, values_from = .value,
    names_prefix = ".q"
  ) |>
  left_join(ds, by = join_by(.row == .row))
#> # A tibble: 200 × 5
#>     .row  .q2.5    .q50 .q97.5       x
#>    <int>  <dbl>   <dbl>  <dbl>   <dbl>
#>  1     1 -2.84  -0.847    1.25 0.00129
#>  2     2 -2.70  -0.651    1.41 0.00629
#>  3     3 -2.50  -0.434    1.62 0.0113 
#>  4     4 -2.24  -0.207    1.83 0.0163 
#>  5     5 -2.04  -0.0197   2.01 0.0213 
#>  6     6 -1.81   0.191    2.25 0.0263 
#>  7     7 -1.59   0.391    2.41 0.0313 
#>  8     8 -1.38   0.594    2.60 0.0363 
#>  9     9 -1.20   0.831    2.84 0.0413 
#> 10    10 -0.935  1.06     3.04 0.0463 
#> # ℹ 190 more rows

The 95% prediction interval is shown for the first 10 rows of the prediction data. the column labelled .q50 is the median of the posterior distribution.

We can now use the various objects we have produced to plot the fitted values from the model (and their uncertainties), as well as the prediction intervals we just generated. We add the observed data used to fit the model as black points, and summarise the posterior samples (from ps) using a hexagonal binning (to avoid plotting all 2 million posterior samples)

fv |>
  ggplot(aes(x = x, y = .fitted)) +
  # summarise the posterior samples
    data = ps, aes(x = x, y = .response, fill = after_stat(count)),
    bins = 50, alpha = 0.7
  ) +
  # add the lower and upper prediction intervals
  geom_line(data = p_int, aes(y = .q2.5), colour = "#56B4E9",
    linewidth = 1.5) +
  geom_line(data = p_int, aes(y = .q97.5), colour = "#56B4E9",
    linewidth = 1.5) +
  # add the lower and upper credible intervals
  geom_line(aes(y = .lower_ci), colour = "#56B4E9", linewidth = 1) +
  geom_line(aes(y = .upper_ci), colour = "#56B4E9", linewidth = 1) +
  # add the fitted model
  geom_line() +
  # add the observed data
  geom_point(data = df, aes(x = x, y = y)) +
  scale_fill_viridis_c(option = "plasma") +
  theme(legend.position = "none") +
  labs(y = "Response")

The outermost pair of blue lines on the plot above is the prediction interval we created. This interval encloses, as expected, almost all of the observe data points. It also encloses, by design, most of the posterior samples, as indicated by the filled hexagonal bins, with warmer colours indicating larger counts of posterior draws.

Metropolis Hastings sampler

In some cases, the Gaussian approximation to the posterior distribution of the model coefficients can fail. Simon Wood shows an example of just such a failure in the ? help page, where the Gaussian approximation is basically useless for a binomial GAM with large numbers of zeroes. implements a simple Metropolis Hastings sampler, which alternates proposals from a Gaussian or t distribution approximation to the posterior with random walk proposals that are based on the shrunken approximate posterior covariance matrix.

In this section, I rework Simon’s example of the failure of the Gaussian approximation from ? to show how to use gratia to generate posterior draws using the Metropolis Hastings sampler provided by

We begin by defining a function that will simulate data for the example.

ga_fail <- function(seed) {
  df <- tibble(y = c(
    rep(0, 89), 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, rep(0, 13), 1, 0, 0, 1,
    rep(0, 10), 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, rep(0, 4), 1, rep(0, 3),
    1, rep(0, 3), 1, rep(0, 10), 1, rep(0, 4), 1, 0, 1, 0, 0,
    rep(1, 4), 0, rep(1, 5), rep(0, 4), 1, 1, rep(0, 46)
  )) |>
      x = withr::with_seed(
        sort(c(0:10 * 5, rnorm(length(y) - 11) * 20 + 100))
      .row = row_number()
    ) |>
    relocate(.row, .before = 1L)

Which we use to simulate a data set and plot it

df <- ga_fail(3)

df |>
  ggplot(aes(x = x, y = y)) +

Note how there are very few zeroes and that for large parts of the covariate space the response is all zeroes.

We fit a binomial (logistic) GAM to the data

m_logit <- gam(y ~ s(x, k = 15), data = df, method = "REML", family = binomial)

and then generate sample from the posterior distribution using the default Gaussian approximation and subsequently using the simpler Metropolis Hastings sampler.

fs_ga <- fitted_samples(m_logit, n = 2000, seed = 2)
fs_mh <- fitted_samples(m_logit,
  n = 2000, seed = 2, method = "mh", thin = 2,
  rw_scale = 0.4

The method argument is used to select the Metropolis Hastings sampler, and we specify two additional arguments:

  1. thin, which controls how many draws are skipped between each retained sample, and
  2. rw_scale, which is the scaling factor by which the posterior covariance matrix is shrunk for the random walk proposals.

We leave the two other important arguments at their defaults:

  1. burnin = 1000, the number of samples to discard prior to sampling, and
  2. t_df = 40, the degrees of freedom for the t proposals.

Because the the degrees of freedom for the t proposals is large, we’re effectively doing Gaussian approximation with this default, alternating those proposals with random walk proposals.

Having collected the posterior draws, we summarise each set into 50%, 80%, and 95% intervals using ggdist::median_qi(), and add on the data locations with a left join

excl_col <- c(".draw", ".parameter", ".row")
int_ga <- fs_ga |>
  group_by(.row) |>
  median_qi(.width = c(0.5, 0.8, 0.95), .exclude = excl_col) |>
  left_join(df, by = join_by(.row == .row))

int_mh <- fs_mh |>
  group_by(.row) |>
  median_qi(.width = c(0.5, 0.8, 0.95), .exclude = excl_col) |>
  left_join(df, by = join_by(.row == .row))

First we plot the intervals for the Gaussian approximation to the posterior, and then we repeat the plot using the intervals derived from the Metropolis Hastings sampler, arranging the two plots using patchwork

plt_ga <- df |>
  ggplot(aes(x = x, y = y)) +
  geom_point() +
    data = int_ga,
    aes(x = x, y = .fitted, ymin = .lower, ymax = .upper)
  ) +
  scale_fill_brewer() +
  labs(title = "Gaussian approximation")

plt_mh <- df |>
  ggplot(aes(x = x, y = y)) +
  geom_point() +
    data = int_mh,
    aes(x = x, y = .fitted, ymin = .lower, ymax = .upper)
  ) +
  scale_fill_brewer() +
  labs(title = "Metropolis Hastings sampler")

plt_ga + plt_mh + plot_layout(guides = "collect")

The Gaussian approximation-based intervals are shown on the left of the figure, which for most of the range of x are largely useless, covering the entire range of the response, despite the fact that we only observed zeroes for large parts of the covariate space. Contrast those intervals with the ones obtained using the Metropolis Hastings sampler; these intervals much better reflect the uncertainty in the estimated response as a function of x where the data are all zeroes.


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Marra, G., & Wood, S. N. (2012). Coverage properties of confidence intervals for generalized additive model components. Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, Theory and Applications, 39(1), 53–74.