[This is an entry I wrote on my blog when the paper by Basset & Deride appeared.]
Robert Bassett and Julio Deride arXived a paper last year discussing the position of MAPs within Bayesian decision theory. A point I have discussed extensively on my blog.
“…we provide a counterexample to the commonly accepted notion of MAP
estimators as a limit of Bayes estimators having 0-1 loss.”
The authors mention my book The Bayesian Choice stating this property without further precautions and I completely agree to being careless in this regard! The difficulty stands with the limit of the maximisers being not necessarily the maximiser of the limit. The paper includes an example to this effect, with a prior as above, associated with a sampling distribution that does not depend on the parameter. The sufficient conditions proposed therein are that the posterior density is almost surely proper or quasi-concave.
This is a neat mathematical characterisation that cleans this “folk theorem” about MAP estimators. And for which the authors are to be congratulated! However, I am not very excited by the limiting property, whether it holds or not, as I have difficulties conceiving the use of a sequence of losses in a mildly realistic case. I rather prefer the alternate characterisation of MAP estimators by Burger and Lucka as proper Bayes estimators under another type of loss function, albeit a rather artificial one.