Bayesian estimator

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An estimator of an unknown parameter from the results of observations using the Bayesian approach. In such an approach to the problem of statistical estimation it is usually assumed that the unknown parameter is a random variable with given a priori distribution , that the space of decisions is identical to the set and that the loss expresses the deviation between the variable and its estimator . It is therefore supposed, as a rule, that the function has the form , where is some non-negative function of the error vector . If , it is often assumed that , ; the most useful and mathematically the most convenient is the quadratic loss function . For such a loss function the Bayesian estimator (Bayesian decision function) is defined as the function for which the minimum total loss

is attained, or, equivalently, for which the minimum conditional loss

is attained. It follows that in the case of a quadratic loss function the Bayesian estimator coincides with the a posteriori average , and the Bayes risk is

where is the variance of the a posteriori distribution:

Example. Let , where are independent identically-distributed random variables with normal distributions , is known, while the unknown parameter has the normal distribution . Since the a posteriori distribution for (where is given) is normal with

where , it follows that for the quadratic loss function the Bayesian estimator is , while the Bayesian risk is .



[a1] E. Sverdrup, "Laws and chance variations" , 1 , North-Holland (1967) pp. Chapt. 6, Section 4
How to Cite This Entry:
Bayesian estimator. A.N. Shiryaev (originator), Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This text originally appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098