Equivalence class selection of categorical graphical models

Federico Castelletti, Stefano Peluso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Learning the structure of dependence relations between variables is a pervasive issue in the statistical literature. A directed acyclic graph (DAG) can represent a set of conditional independencies, but different DAGs may encode the same set of relations and are indistinguishable using observational data. Equivalent DAGs can be collected into classes, each represented by a partially directed graph known as essential graph (EG). Structure learning directly conducted on the EG space, rather than on the allied space of DAGs, leads to theoretical and computational benefits. Still, the majority of efforts has been dedicated to Gaussian data, with less attention to methods designed for multivariate categorical data. A Bayesian methodology for structure learning of categorical EGs is then proposed. Combining a constructive parameter prior elicitation with a graph-driven likelihood decomposition, a closed-form expression for the marginal likelihood of a categorical EG model is derived. Asymptotic properties are studied, and an MCMC sampler scheme developed for approximate posterior inference. The methodology is evaluated on both simulated scenarios and real data, with appreciable performance in comparison with state-of-the-art methods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)N/A-N/A
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Bayesian model selection
  • Markov equivalence
  • Graphical model
  • Categorical data


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