I try to generate random numbers from the conjugate distribution of beta distribution. It is as follows

$$ p(α,β∣a,b,d)∝ \frac{e^{-a \alpha} e^{-b \beta}}{(\beta(\alpha,\beta))^d} \:\:\:\:,\:\:\: \alpha>0,\beta>0$$

where $a>0$, $b>0$ and $d>0$. $\beta(\alpha,\beta)$ is the Beta function. How can I generate samples from the above distribution? Thank you.

  • $\begingroup$ This answer to another question gives you the proper link. $\endgroup$
    – Xi'an
    Aug 29 '20 at 15:46

Here is an excerpt from our book, Introducing Monte Carlo methods with R, indirectly dealing with this case (by importance sampling). The graph of the target shows a smooth and regular shape for the conjugate, meaning a Normal or Student proposal could maybe be of used for accept-reject. An alternative is to use MCMC, eg Gibbs sampling.

Example 3.6. [p.71-75] When considering an observation $x$ from a beta $\mathcal{B}(\alpha,\beta)$ distribution, $$ x\sim \frac{\Gamma(\alpha+\beta)}{\Gamma(\alpha)\Gamma(\beta)}\,x^{\alpha-1} (1-x)^{\beta-1}\,\mathbb{I}_{[0,1]}(x), $$ there exists a family of conjugate priors on $(\alpha,\beta)$ of the form $$ \pi(\alpha,\beta)\propto \left\{ \frac{\Gamma(\alpha+\beta)}{\Gamma(\alpha) \Gamma(\beta)} \right\}^\lambda\, x_0^{\alpha}y_0^{\beta}\,, $$ where $\lambda,x_0,y_0$ are hyperparameters, since the posterior is then equal to $$ \pi(\alpha,\beta|x)\propto \left\{ \frac{\Gamma(\alpha+\beta)}{\Gamma(\alpha) \Gamma(\beta)} \right\}^{\lambda+1}\, [x x_0]^{\alpha}[(1-x)y_0]^{\beta}\,. $$ This family of distributions is intractable if only because of the difficulty of dealing with gamma functions. Simulating directly from $\pi(\alpha,\beta|x)$ is therefore impossible. We thus need to use a substitute distribution $g(\alpha,\beta)$, and we can get a preliminary idea by looking at an image representation of $\pi(\alpha,\beta|x)$. If we take $\lambda=1$, $x_0=y_0=.5$, and $x=.6$, the R code for the conjugate is


leading to the following picture of the target:

enter image description here

The examination of this figure shows that a normal or a Student's $t$ distribution on the pair $(\alpha,\beta)$ could be appropriate. Choosing a Student's $\mathcal{T}(3,\mu,\Sigma)$ distribution with $\mu=(50,45)$ and $$ \Sigma=\left( \begin{matrix}220 &190\\ 190 &180\end{matrix}\right) $$ does produce a reasonable fit. The covariance matrix\idxs{covariance matrix} above was obtained by trial-and-error, modifying the entries until the sample fits well enough:

 x=matrix(rt(2*10^4,3),ncol=2)       #T sample
 E=matrix(c(220,190,190,180),ncol=2) #Scale matrix
 image(aa,bb,post,xlab=expression(alpha),ylab=" ")

If the quantity of interest is the marginal likelihood, as in Bayesian model comparison (Robert, 2001), \begin{eqnarray*} m(x) &=& \int_{\mathbb R^2_+} f(x|\alpha,\beta)\,\pi(\alpha,\beta)\,\text{d}\alpha \text{d}\beta \\ &=& \dfrac{\int_{\mathbb R^2_+} \left\{ \frac{\Gamma(\alpha+\beta)}{\Gamma(\alpha) \Gamma(\beta)} \right\}^{\lambda+1}\, [x x_0]^{\alpha}[(1-x)y_0]^{\beta} \,\text{d}\alpha \text{d}\beta} {x(1-x)\,\int_{\mathbb R^2_+} \left\{ \frac{\Gamma(\alpha+\beta)}{\Gamma(\alpha) \Gamma(\beta)} \right\}^{\lambda}\, x_0^{\alpha} y_0^{\beta} \,\text{d}\alpha \text{d}\beta}\,, \end{eqnarray*} we need to approximate both integrals and the same $t$ sample can be used for both since the fit is equally reasonable on the prior surface. This approximation \begin{align}\label{eq:margilike} \hat m(x) = \sum_{i=1}^n &\left\{ \frac{\Gamma(\alpha_i+\beta_i)}{\Gamma(\alpha_i) \Gamma(\beta_i)} \right\}^{\lambda+1}\, [x x_0]^{\alpha_i}[(1-x)y_0]^{\beta_i}\big/g(\alpha_i,\beta_i) \bigg/ \nonumber\\ &x(1-x)\sum_{i=1}^n \left\{ \frac{\Gamma(\alpha_i+\beta_i)}{\Gamma(\alpha_i) \Gamma(\beta_i)} \right\}^{\lambda}\, x_0^{\alpha_i}y_0^{\beta_i}\big/g(\alpha_i,\beta_i)\,, \end{align} where $(\alpha_i,\beta_i)_{1\le i\le n}$ are $n$ iid realizations from $g$, is straightforward to implement in {\tt R}:

 f=function(a) exp(2*(lgamma(a[,1]+a[,2])-lgamma(a[,1])
 h=function(a) exp(1*(lgamma(a[,1]+a[,2])-lgamma(a[,1])


 > mean(f(y)/den)/mean(h(y)/den)
 [1] 0.1361185

Our approximation of the marginal likelihood, based on those simulations is thus $0.1361$. Similarly, the posterior expectations of the parameters $\alpha$ and $\beta$ are obtained by

> mean(y[,1]*f(y)/den)/mean(f(y)/den)
[1] 94.08314
> mean(y[,2]*f(y)/den)/mean(f(y)/den)
[1] 80.42832

i.e., are approximately equal to $19.34$ and $16.54$, respectively.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.