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Statistica Sinica 17(2007), 1273-1297


Mathias Drton and Seth Sullivant

University of Chicago and Harvard University

Abstract: Many statistical models are algebraic in that they are defined in terms of polynomial constraints, or in terms of polynomial or rational parametrizations. The parameter spaces of such models are typically semi-algebraic subsets of the parameter space of a reference model with nice properties, such as for example a regular exponential family. This observation leads to the definition of an `algebraic exponential family'. This new definition provides a unified framework for the study of statistical models with algebraic structure. In this paper we review the ingredients to this definition and illustrate in examples how computational algebraic geometry can be used to solve problems arising in statistical inference in algebraic models.

Key words and phrases: Algebraic statistics, computational algebraic geometry, exponential family, maximum likelihood estimation, model invariants, singularities.

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