EasyABC: performing efficient approximate Bayesian computation sampling schemes using R
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- Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC), a type of likelihood-free inference, is a family of statistical techniques to perform parameter estimation and model selection. It is increasingly used in ecology and evolution, where the models used can be too complex to be handled with standard likelihood techniques. The essence of ABC techniques is to compare simulation outputs to observed data, in order to select the parameter values of the simulations which best fit the data. ABC techniques are thus computationally demanding. This constitutes a key limitation to their implementation.
- We introduce the R package ‘EasyABC’ that enables one to launch a series of simulations from the R platform and to retrieve the simulation outputs in an appropriate format for post-processing. The ‘EasyABC’ package further implements several efficient parameter sampling schemes to speed up the ABC procedure: on top of the standard prior sampling, it implements various algorithms to perform sequential (ABC-sequential) and Markov chain Monte Carlo (ABC-MCMC) sampling schemes. The package functions can furthermore make use of parallel computing.
- The R package ‘EasyABC’ complements the package ‘abc’ which enables various post-processing of simulation outputs. ‘EasyABC’ makes several state-of-the-art ABC implementations available to the large community of R users in the fields of ecology and evolution. It is a freely available R package under the GPL license, and it can be downloaded at http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/EasyABC/index.html.