UCSC-SOE-15-18: A new family of error distributions for Bayesian quantile regression

Yifei Yan and Athanasios Kottas
10/09/2015 11:29 AM
Applied Mathematics & Statistics
We propose a new family of error distributions for model-based quantile regression, which is constructed through a structured mixture of normal distributions. The construction enables fixing specific percentiles of the distribution while, at the same time, allowing for varying mode, skewness and tail behavior. It thus overcomes the severe limitation of the asymmetric Laplace distribution -- the most commonly used error model for parametric quantile regression -- for which the skewness of the error density is fully specified when a particular percentile is fixed. We develop a Bayesian formulation for the proposed quantile regression model, including conditional lasso regularized quantile regression based on a hierarchical Laplace prior for the regression coefficients, and a Tobit quantile regression model. Posterior inference is implemented via Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods. The flexibility of the new model relative to the asymmetric Laplace distribution is studied through relevant model properties, and through a simulation experiment to compare the two error distributions in regularized quantile regression. Moreover, model performance in linear quantile regression, regularized quantile regression, and Tobit quantile regression is illustrated with data examples that have been previously considered in the literature.

Paper updated February 8, 2017.