Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
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Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
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Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
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Section: Research Program

Model evaluation

Diagnostic tools are recognized as an essential method for model assessment in the process of model building. Indeed, the modeler needs to confront "his" model with the experimental data before concluding that this model is able to reproduce the data and before using it for any purpose, such as prediction or simulation for instance.

The objective of a diagnostic tool is twofold: first we want to check if the assumptions made on the model are valid or not ; then, if some assumptions are rejected, we want to get some guidance on how to improve the model.

As is the usual case in statistics, it is not because this "final" model has not been rejected that it is necessarily the "true" one. All that we can say is that the experimental data does not allow us to reject it. It is merely one of perhaps many models that cannot be rejected.

Model diagnostic tools are for the most part graphical, i.e., visual; we "see" when something is not right between a chosen model and the data it is hypothesized to describe. These diagnostic plots are usually based on the empirical Bayes estimates (EBEs) of the individual parameters and EBEs of the random effects: scatterplots of individual parameters versus covariates to detect some possible relationship, scatterplots of pairs of random effects to detect some possible correlation between random effects, plot of the empirical distribution of the random effects (boxplot, histogram,...) to check if they are normally distributed, ...

The use of EBEs for diagnostic plots and statistical tests is efficient with rich data, i.e. when a significant amount of information is available in the data for recovering accurately all the individual parameters. On the contrary, tests and plots can be misleading when the estimates of the individual parameters are greatly shrunk.

We propose to develop new approaches for diagnosing mixed effects models in a general context and derive formal and unbiased statistical tests for testing separately each feature of the model.