Open Problems on Connectivity of Fibers with Positive Margins in Multi-dimensional Contingency Tables

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Ruriko Yoshida


Diaconis-Sturmfels developed an algorithm for sampling from conditional distributions for a statistical model of discrete exponential families, based on the algebraic theory of toric ideals. This algorithm is applied to categorical data analysis through the notion of Markov bases. Initiated with its application to Markov chain Monte Carlo approach for testing statistical fitting of the given model, many researchers have extensively studied the structure of Markov bases for models in computational algebraic statistics. In the Markov chain Monte Carlo approach for testing statistical fitting of the given model, a Markov basis is a set of moves connecting all contingency tables satisfying the given margins. Despite the computational advances, there are applied problems where one may never be able to compute a Markov basis. In general, the number of elements in a minimal Markov basis for a model can be exponentially many. Thus, it is important to compute a reduced number of moves which connect all tables instead of computing a Markov basis. In some cases, such as logistic regression, positive margins are shown to allow a set of Markov connecting moves that are much simpler than the full Markov basis. Such a set is called a Markov subbasis with assumption of positive margins. In this paper we summarize some computations of and open problems on Markov subbases for contingency tables with assumption of positive margins under specific models as well as develop algebraic methods for studying connectivity of Markov moves with margin positivity to develop Markov sampling methods for exact conditional inference in statistical models where the Markov basis is hard to compute.

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