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Bayesian parameter inference and model selection by population annealing in systems biology

Yohei Murakami
PloS One 2014, 9 (8): e104057
25089832
Parameter inference and model selection are very important for mathematical modeling in systems biology. Bayesian statistics can be used to conduct both parameter inference and model selection. Especially, the framework named approximate Bayesian computation is often used for parameter inference and model selection in systems biology. However, Monte Carlo methods needs to be used to compute Bayesian posterior distributions. In addition, the posterior distributions of parameters are sometimes almost uniform or very similar to their prior distributions. In such cases, it is difficult to choose one specific value of parameter with high credibility as the representative value of the distribution. To overcome the problems, we introduced one of the population Monte Carlo algorithms, population annealing. Although population annealing is usually used in statistical mechanics, we showed that population annealing can be used to compute Bayesian posterior distributions in the approximate Bayesian computation framework. To deal with un-identifiability of the representative values of parameters, we proposed to run the simulations with the parameter ensemble sampled from the posterior distribution, named "posterior parameter ensemble". We showed that population annealing is an efficient and convenient algorithm to generate posterior parameter ensemble. We also showed that the simulations with the posterior parameter ensemble can, not only reproduce the data used for parameter inference, but also capture and predict the data which was not used for parameter inference. Lastly, we introduced the marginal likelihood in the approximate Bayesian computation framework for Bayesian model selection. We showed that population annealing enables us to compute the marginal likelihood in the approximate Bayesian computation framework and conduct model selection depending on the Bayes factor.

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