Meta-Uncertainty in Bayesian Model Comparison
Proceedings of The 26th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 206:11-29, 2023.
Bayesian model comparison (BMC) offers a principled probabilistic approach to study and rank competing models. In standard BMC, we construct a discrete probability distribution over the set of possible models, conditional on the observed data of interest. These posterior model probabilities (PMPs) are measures of uncertainty, but—when derived from a finite number of observations—are also uncertain themselves. In this paper, we conceptualize distinct levels of uncertainty which arise in BMC. We explore a fully probabilistic framework for quantifying meta-uncertainty, resulting in an applied method to enhance any BMC workflow. Drawing on both Bayesian and frequentist techniques, we represent the uncertainty over the uncertain PMPs via meta-models which combine simulated and observed data into a predictive distribution for PMPs on new data. We demonstrate the utility of the proposed method in the context of conjugate Bayesian regression, likelihood-based inference with Markov chain Monte Carlo, and simulation-based inference with neural networks.