Statistics and Computing

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 353–367 | Cite as

A Conditional Autoregressive Gaussian Process for Irregularly Spaced Multivariate Data with Application to Modelling Large Sets of Binary Data

  • A. N. Pettitt
  • I. S. Weir
  • A. G. Hart


A Gaussian conditional autoregressive (CAR) formulation is presented that permits the modelling of the spatial dependence and the dependence between multivariate random variables at irregularly spaced sites so capturing some of the modelling advantages of the geostatistical approach. The model benefits not only from the explicit availability of the full conditionals but also from the computational simplicity of the precision matrix determinant calculation using a closed form expression involving the eigenvalues of a precision matrix submatrix. The introduction of covariates into the model adds little computational complexity to the analysis and thus the method can be straightforwardly extended to regression models. The model, because of its computational simplicity, is well suited to application involving the fully Bayesian analysis of large data sets involving multivariate measurements with a spatial ordering. An extension to spatio-temporal data is also considered. Here, we demonstrate use of the model in the analysis of bivariate binary data where the observed data is modelled as the sign of the hidden CAR process. A case study involving over 450 irregularly spaced sites and the presence or absence of each of two species of rain forest trees at each site is presented; Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods are implemented to obtain posterior distributions of all unknowns. The MCMC method works well with simulated data and the tree biodiversity data set.

Bayesian analysis binary data conditional autoregression Markov chain Monte Carlo multivariate data spatial statistics spatio-temporal 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. N. Pettitt
  • I. S. Weir
  • A. G. Hart

There are no affiliations available

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