Encyclopedia of Systems Biology

2013 Edition
| Editors: Werner Dubitzky, Olaf Wolkenhauer, Kwang-Hyun Cho, Hiroki Yokota

Prior Elicitation

  • Malcolm FarrowEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-9863-7_1457



In order to use  Bayesian inference, we need to have a prior distribution representing beliefs and uncertainties about unknown quantities before the data are observed. This will often represent the prior beliefs of a client or fellow researcher. Elicitation (O’Hagan et al. 2006) is the process of extracting knowledge, beliefs, and uncertainties about unknown quantities from the client so that these can be expressed as a prior probability distribution. This can sometimes be a difficult task, especially, but not only, when the client has had little training in probability. It is known that people can have a tendency to over- or underestimate probabilities under various circumstances and to make other errors so elicitation questions should be carefully designed.



  1. O’Hagan A, Buck CE, Daneshkhah A, Eiser JR, Garthwaite PH, Jenkinson DJ, Oakley JE, Rakov T (2006) Uncertain judgements: eliciting experts’ probabilities. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Mathematics & StatisticsNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK