Editor's note: The following is an interview with Columbia University Professor Andrew Gelman conducted by Marketing scientist Kevin Gray, in which Gelman spells out the ABCs of Bayesian statistics. Kevin Gray: Most marketing researchers have heard of Bayesian statistics but know little about it. Can you briefly explain in layperson's terms what it is and how it differs from the'ordinary' statistics most of us learned in college? Andrew Gelman: Bayesian statistics uses the mathematical rules of probability to combines data with "prior information" to give inferences which (if the model being used is correct) are more precise than would be obtained by either source of information alone. Classical statistical methods avoid prior distributions.

Editor's note: The following is an interview with Columbia University Professor Andrew Gelman conducted by Marketing scientist Kevin Gray, in which Gelman spells out the ABCs of Bayesian statistics. Andrew Gelman: Bayesian statistics uses the mathematical rules of probability to combines data with "prior information" to give inferences which (if the model being used is correct) are more precise than would be obtained by either source of information alone. Classical statistical methods avoid prior distributions. In classical statistics, you might include in your model a predictor (for example), or you might exclude it, or you might pool it as part of some larger set of predictors in order to get a more stable estimate. These are pretty much your only choices.

Linzner, Dominik, Schmidt, Michael, Koeppl, Heinz

Continuous-time Bayesian Networks (CTBNs) represent a compact yet powerful framework for understanding multivariate time-series data. Given complete data, parameters and structure can be estimated efficiently in closed-form. However, if data is incomplete, the latent states of the CTBN have to be estimated by laboriously simulating the intractable dynamics of the assumed CTBN. This is a problem, especially for structure learning tasks, where this has to be done for each element of super-exponentially growing set of possible structures. In order to circumvent this notorious bottleneck, we develop a novel gradient-based approach to structure learning. Instead of sampling and scoring all possible structures individually, we assume the generator of the CTBN to be composed as a mixture of generators stemming from different structures. In this framework, structure learning can be performed via a gradient-based optimization of mixture weights. We combine this approach with a novel variational method that allows for the calculation of the marginal likelihood of a mixture in closed-form. We proof the scalability of our method by learning structures of previously inaccessible sizes from synthetic and real-world data.

Many people have found the table above to be useful for understanding two conceptual distinctions in the practice of data analysis. The article that discusses the table, and many other issues, is now in press. The in-press version can be found at OSF and at SSRN. Abstract: In the practice of data analysis, there is a conceptual distinction between hypothesis testing, on the one hand, and estimation with quantified uncertainty, on the other hand. Among frequentists in psychology a shift of emphasis from hypothesis testing to estimation has been dubbed "the New Statistics" (Cumming, 2014).

Classical statistics is said to follow the frequentist approach because it interprets probability as the relative frequency of an event over the long run that is, after observing many trials. In the context of probabilities, an event is a combination of one or more elementary outcomes of an experiment, such as any of six equal results in rolls of two dice or an asset price dropping by 10 percent or more on a given day.