Journal Article

Limitations of Bayesian Evidence applied to cosmology

G. Efstathiou

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 388, issue 3, pages 1314-1320
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Limitations of Bayesian Evidence applied to cosmology

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There has been increasing interest by cosmologists in applying Bayesian techniques, such as Bayesian Evidence, for model selection. A typical example is in assessing whether observational data favour a cosmological constant over evolving dark energy. In this paper, the example of dark energy is used to illustrate limitations in the application of Bayesian Evidence associated with subjective judgements concerning the choice of model and priors. An analysis of recent cosmological data shows a statistically insignificant preference for a cosmological constant over simple dynamical models of dark energy. It is argued that for nested problems, as considered here, Bayesian parameter estimation can be more informative than computing Bayesian Evidence for poorly motivated physical models.

Keywords: cosmology: methods: data analysis; cosmological parameters; cosmology observations; cosmology: theory

Journal Article.  5628 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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