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Fractional Bayes factors for model comparison. (With discussion). (English) Zbl 0813.62026
Summary: Bayesian comparison of models is achieved simply by calculation of posterior probabilities of the models themselves. However, there are difficulties with this approach when prior information about the parameters of the various models is weak. Partial Bayes factors offer a resolution of the problem by setting aside part of the data as a training sample. The training sample is used to obtain an initial informative posterior distribution of the parameters in each model. Model comparison is then based on a Bayes factor calculated from the remaining data.
Properties of partial Bayes factors are discussed, particularly in the context of weak prior information, and they are found to have advantages over other proposed methods of model comparison. A new variant of the partial Bayes factor, the fractional Bayes factor, is advocated on grounds of consistency, simplicity, robustness and coherence.

62F15 Bayesian inference
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