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The International Journal of Biostatistics

Ed. by Chambaz, Antoine / Hubbard, Alan E. / van der Laan, Mark J.

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1557-4679
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Parameter Estimation of a Two-Colored Urn Model Class

Line Chloé Le Goff / Philippe Soulier
Published Online: 2017-03-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijb-2016-0029

Abstract

Though widely used in applications, reinforced random walk on graphs have never been the subject of a valid statistical inference. We develop in this paper a statistical framework for a general two-colored urn model. The probability to draw a ball at each step depends on the number of balls of each color and on a multidimensional parameter through a function, called choice function. We introduce two estimators of the parameter: the maximum likelihood estimator and a weighted least squares estimator which is less efficient, but is closer to the calibration techniques used in the applied literature. In general, the model is an inhomogeneous Markov chain and this property makes the estimation of the parameter impossible on a single path, even if it were infinite. Therefore we assume that we observe i.i.d. experiments, each of a predetermined finite length. This is coherent with the usual experimental set-ups. We apply the statistical framework to a real life experiment: the selection of a path among pre-existing channels by an ant colony. We performed experiments, which consisted of letting ants pass through the branches of a fork. We consider the particular urn model proposed by J.-L. Deneubourg et al. in 1990 to describe this phenomenon. We simulate this model for several parameter values in order to assess the accuracy of the MLE and the WLSE. Then we estimate the parameter from the experimental data and evaluate confident regions with Bootstrap algorithms. The findings of this paper do not contradict the biological literature, but give statistical significance to the values of the parameter found therein.

Keywords: ant behavior; asymptotic proprieties of estimators; Deneubourg’s choice function; reinforced random walk parameter estimation; urn model parameter estimation

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About the article

Published Online: 2017-03-25


Citation Information: The International Journal of Biostatistics, ISSN (Online) 1557-4679, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijb-2016-0029.

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