I'm trying to use Stan and R to fit a model that, uhh, models the observed realisations $y_i = 16, 9, 10, 13, 19, 20, 18, 17, 35, 55$, which are from a binomial distributed random variable, say, $Y_i$, with parameters $m_i$ (the number of trials) and $p_i$ (probability of success). So we have $Y_i \sim (p_i, m_i)$ for $1 \le i \le 10$.

For the purposes of this experiment, I'm going to assume that all of the $m_i$ are fixed and given by $m_i = 74, 99, 58, 70, 122, 77, 104, 129, 308, 119$.

I'm going to use Jeffrey's prior: $\alpha=0.5$ and $\beta=0.5$.

I'm trying to

  1. Find the range of the $p_i$ (i.e., the parameters $r = \max\limits_{i = 1, \dots , 10} p_i - \min\limits_{i = 1, \dots , 10} p_i$).
  2. Plot the posterior density of $r$.
  3. Find a Bayesian estimate for $r$.
  4. Find the standard deviation of the posterior distribution of $r$.

I will be using Stan/RStan/R to do this.

My code for this is as follows:


```{stan output.var="BinMod_beta"}
  data {
    int <lower = 1> mi[10];
    int <lower = 0> yi[10];
    real <lower = 0> alpha;
    real <lower = 0> beta;

  parameters {
    real <lower = 0, upper = 1> p[10];

  transformed parameters {
    real r;
    real mx = max(p);
    real mn = min(p);
    r = mx - mn;

  model {
    yi ~ binomial(mi, p);
    p ~ beta(alpha, beta);

data.in <- list(mi = c(74, 99, 58, 70, 122, 77, 104, 129, 308, 119), yi = c(16, 9, 10, 13, 19, 20, 18, 17, 35, 55), alpha = 0.5, beta = 0.5)
model.fit1 <- sampling(BinMod_beta, data=data.in)

print(model.fit1, pars = c("p", "r"), probs=c(0.1,0.5,0.9), digits = 5)

```{r, out.width="0.8\\textwidth", fig.align='center'}
mcmc_areas(posterior, pars="r", point_est="mean")

My plot of the posterior density of $r$ is

enter image description here

I thought I had gone about this correctly, until I looked at the values I was getting:

enter image description here

The minimum value for $p_i$ in this table is $0.09535$, and the maximum value for $p_i$ in the table is $0.46167$. This would give us $r = 0.46167 - 0.09535 = 0.36632 \not= 0.37543$. So did I do something wrong here? I only recently started learning MCMC, simulations, and Stan, so it's not at all clear to me that I've done anything incorrectly.

I would greatly appreciate it if people could please take the time to to review this and provide feedback.

EDIT: Results of model with single $p$ instead of individual $p_i$s:

enter image description here


The posterior mean of $r$ is a non-linear transformation of the $p_i$, so we shouldn't be surprised by this inequality.

Also, if you look at the quantiles, there is considerable overlap in the posterior distributions of the $p_i$s, but your reasoning seems to be conditional on a fixed ordering.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the response. Here's an interesting question: Since there is, according to the quantiles, considerable overlap in the posterior distributions of the $p_i$s, does that mean that, instead of simulating/modelling the individual $p_i$s, it would have been more appropriate, for this data, to model just a single $p$? $\endgroup$ – The Pointer Apr 24 '18 at 19:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 2 and 10 show a pretty clear difference, no? Whether collapsing non-distinguishable parameters is appropriate or not depends on the context and the objective of the analysis. $\endgroup$ – HStamper Apr 24 '18 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, you are indeed correct. I have edited the main post with the results of the model with a single $p$. Wouldn't the relatively low standard deviation of the posterior distribution of $p$ indicate that it is a better model to select for this analysis than the model of the individual $p_i$s? Or no? $\endgroup$ – The Pointer Apr 24 '18 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ Generally, the posterior is more highly peaked if you use a pooled model. Your results are conditional on how you choose to model the data and if you choose a simpler model, you can generally fit it more precisely. That does not make it more appropriate; you might just be fitting a bad model really precisely. $\endgroup$ – HStamper Apr 24 '18 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm. So, in this case, which model would you say is more appropriate? $\endgroup$ – The Pointer Apr 24 '18 at 19:50

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