Bayesian Shrinkage for Functional Network Models, With Applications to Longitudinal Item Response Data

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Longitudinal item response data are common in social science, educational science, and psychology, among other disciplines. Studying the time-varying relationships between items is crucial for educational assessment or designing marketing strategies from survey questions. Although dynamic network models have been widely developed, we cannot apply them directly to item response data because there are multiple systems of nodes with various types of local interactions among items, resulting in multiplex network structures. We propose a new model to study these temporal interactions among items by embedding the functional parameters within the exponential random graph model framework. Inference on such models is difficult because the likelihood functions contain intractable normalizing constants. Furthermore, the number of functional parameters grows exponentially as the number of items increases. Variable selection for such models is not trivial because standard shrinkage approaches do not consider temporal trends in functional parameters. To overcome these challenges, we develop a novel Bayes approach by combining an auxiliary variable MCMC algorithm and a recently developed functional shrinkage method. We apply our algorithm to survey and review datasets, illustrating that the proposed approach can avoid the evaluation of intractable normalizing constants as well as the detection of significant temporal interactions among items. Through a simulation study under different scenarios, we examine the performance of our algorithm. Our method is, to our knowledge, the first attempt to select functional variables for models with intractable normalizing constants. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.




Park, J., Jeon, Y., Shin, M., Jeon, M., & Jin, I. H. (2022). Bayesian Shrinkage for Functional Network Models, With Applications to Longitudinal Item Response Data. Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics, 31(2), 360–377.

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