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Activity Number: 18
Type: Topic Contributed
Date/Time: Sunday, July 31, 2016 : 2:00 PM to 3:50 PM
Sponsor: Biometrics Section
Abstract #319814
Title: A Scalable Empirical Bayes Approach to Variable Selection
Author(s): Haim Y. Bar* and James Booth and Martin T. Wells
Companies: University of Connecticut and Cornell University and Cornell University
Keywords: variable selection ; mixture models ; empirical bayes ; EM algorithm

We develop a model-based empirical Bayes approach to variable selection problems in which the number of predictors is very large, possibly much larger than the number of responses (the so-called "large p, small n" problem). We consider the multiple linear regression setting, where the response is assumed to be a continuous variable and it is a linear function of the predictors plus error. The explanatory variables in the linear model can have a positive effect on the response, a negative effect, or no effect. We model the effects of the linear predictors as a three component mixture in which a key assumption is that only a small (unknown) fraction of the candidate predictors have a non-zero effect on the response variable. By treating the coefficients as random effects we develop an approach that is computationally efficient because the number of parameters that have to be estimated is small, and remains constant regardless of the number of explanatory variables. The model parameters are estimated using the EM algorithm which is scalable and leads to significantly faster convergence, compared with simulation-based methods.

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