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Title: Estimation of conditional auto-regressive models
Author: Sha, Zhe
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 8084
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Conditional auto-regressive (CAR) models are frequently used with spatial data. However, the likelihood of such a model is expensive to compute even for a moderately sized data set of around 1000 sites. For models involving latent variables, the likelihood is not usually available in closed form. In this thesis we use a Monte Carlo approximation to the likelihood (extending the approach of Geyer and Thompson (1992)), and develop two strategies for maximising this. One strategy is to limit the step size by defining an experimental region using a Monte Carlo approximation to the variance of the estimates. The other is to use response surface methodology. The iterative procedures are fully automatic, with user-specified options to control the simulation and convergence criteria. Both strategies are implemented in our R package mclcar. We demonstrate aspects of the algorithms on simulated data on a torus, and achieve similar results to others in a short computational time on two datasets from the literature. We then use the methods on a challenging problem concerning forest restoration with data from around 7000 trees arranged in transects within study plots. We modelled the growth rate of the trees by a linear mixed effects model with CAR spatial error and CAR random e ects for study plots in an acceptable computational time. Our proposed methods can be used for similar models to provide a clearly defined framework for maximising Monte Carlo approximations to likelihoods and reconstructing likelihood surfaces near the maximum.
Supervisor: Ripley, Brian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Statistics ; Monte Carlo method ; Spatial analysis (Statistics) ; RSM ; CAR models ; MCMC ; Spatial Statistics