On Scale-Free Prior Distributions and Their Applicability in Large-Scale Network Inference with Gaussian Graphical Models
This paper concerns the specification, and performance, of scale-free prior distributions with a view toward large-scale network inference from small-sample data sets. We devise three scale-free priors and implement them in the framework of Gaussian graphical models. Gaussian graphical models are used in gene network inference where high-throughput data describing a large number of variables with comparatively few samples are frequently analyzed by practitioners. And, although there is a consensus that many such networks are scale-free, the modus operandi is to assign a random network prior. Simulations demonstrate that the scale-free priors outperform the random network prior at recovering scale-free trees with degree exponents near 2, such as are characteristic of many real-world systems. On the other hand, the random network prior compares favorably at recovering scale-free trees characterized by larger degree exponents.
KeywordsBayesian inference complex networks Gaussian graphical model Markov chain Monte Carlo prior distribution scale-free “small n large p” problem small-sample inference
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