This brief lesson introduces the concept of discrete distribution (probability mass function) on the example of Poisson distribution. We will also do more likelihood stuff.

Optional functions for interactive plotting for those with R-studio:

library(manipulate)

source("https://raw.githubusercontent.com/petrkeil/ML_and_Bayes_2017_iDiv/master/Univariate%20Poisson%20Model/plotting_poisson.r")

1 Poisson distribution

Poisson distribution is a simple model for discrete and positive count data.

$p\left( x \right) = \frac{{e^{ - \lambda } \lambda ^x }}{{x!}}$

Where $$\lambda$$ is the only parameter, which is also the mean of the distribution.

2 Simulating poisson data

Let’s explore the Poisson model a bit and simulate some data using rpois():

rpois(n=100, lambda=1)
##   [1] 0 2 1 4 0 2 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 4 0 2 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 1 2 1 1
##  [36] 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 2 0 1 2 0 1 0 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 2
##  [71] 1 3 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 2 2 0 2 4 1 1 2 2 3 0 3 0 3 0 0 1 0 5 2 0

Now try different values of $$\lambda$$.

We can plot the “empirical frequency histogram” for simulated data with 3 different values of parameter $$\lambda$$:

  plot(c(0,35), c(0,1), type="n",
xlab="x", ylab="Frequency")

hist(rpois(n=100, lambda=20), add=T, freq=FALSE, col="green")

Let’s plot the respective probability mass functions:

  plot(0:35, dpois(0:35, lambda=1),
col="blue", pch=19,
ylab="Probability mass",
xlab="x")
points(0:35, dpois(0:35, lambda=5), col="red", pch=19)
points(0:35, dpois(0:35, lambda=20), col="green", pch=19)

Interactive version

manipulate(move.poisson(lambda),
lambda=slider(1,100, step=0.01))

3 Poisson likelihood

I will generate the artificial data again:

x <- rpois(n=100, lambda=8)
x
##   [1]  6  3 10  4 12  8  6 10 10  8  8 11 14 10  5  6 11 10  9  7  9  4  6
##  [24]  9  8  8  9  5  9  5  6 10  7  4  8  9  7  7  4 12 11 10  9  7  6  6
##  [47]  5  9 10  7  8 10 13  8  8  2  6 10  4  8  7  7  8  7  7  9  8  4 10
##  [70]  8  5  6 12  9 12  6  4  7 10  3  5  9 12  9 12 12  8  8  8  4  8 11
##  [93]  5  8  7  7  3  7  8  8

Poisson distribution is didactically convenient as it only has the one parameter $$\lambda$$. We can write the negative log-likelihood function for a given dataset $$x$$:

  negLL.function <- function(x, lambda)
{
LL <- dpois(x, lambda, log=TRUE) # the log likelihood
negLL <- -sum(LL)
return(negLL)
}

We can try different values of $$\lambda$$:

  negLL.function(x, lambda=10)
## [1] 261.0663

And we can evaluate the negLL.function for values of $$\lambda$$ between 0 and 35:

  lambdas <- seq(0, 30, by=0.1)
negLL.vector <- numeric(0) # empty numeric vector

for(i in 1:length(lambdas))
{
negLL.vector[i] <- negLL.function(x, lambdas[i])
}

Let’s check what we have:

  negLL.vector
##   [1]       Inf 2858.4939 2328.5323 2022.6749 1808.5706 1644.7418 1512.7133
##   [8] 1402.6299 1308.6090 1226.8560 1154.7801 1090.5335 1032.7516  980.3984
##  [15]  932.6683  888.9228  848.6473  811.4207  776.8943  744.7759  714.8185
##  [22]  686.8109  660.5718  635.9439  612.7900  590.9896  570.4367  551.0370
##  [29]  532.7066  515.3705  498.9612  483.4179  468.6856  454.7145  441.4591
##  [36]  428.8778  416.9327  405.5889  394.8143  384.5794  374.8568  365.6213
##  [43]  356.8493  348.5190  340.6102  333.1038  325.9823  319.2289  312.8283
##  [50]  306.7659  301.0280  295.6017  290.4751  285.6365  281.0753  276.7814
##  [57]  272.7449  268.9570  265.4088  262.0922  258.9995  256.1232  253.4562
##  [64]  250.9920  248.7240  246.6462  244.7529  243.0384  241.4974  240.1249
##  [71]  238.9161  237.8663  236.9710  236.2260  235.6272  235.1707  234.8526
##  [78]  234.6695  234.6177  234.6940  234.8952  235.2180  235.6596  236.2171
##  [85]  236.8876  237.6686  238.5574  239.5515  240.6485  241.8462  243.1422
##  [92]  244.5344  246.0206  247.5989  249.2673  251.0238  252.8667  254.7941
##  [99]  256.8042  258.8956  261.0663  263.3150  265.6401  268.0400  270.5134
## [106]  273.0588  275.6749  278.3603  281.1137  283.9339  286.8197  289.7699
## [113]  292.7833  295.8588  298.9953  302.1918  305.4472  308.7604  312.1306
## [120]  315.5567  319.0378  322.5731  326.1615  329.8023  333.4946  337.2375
## [127]  341.0303  344.8722  348.7623  352.7001  356.6846  360.7152  364.7912
## [134]  368.9119  373.0767  377.2849  381.5358  385.8288  390.1633  394.5387
## [141]  398.9545  403.4100  407.9046  412.4379  417.0094  421.6183  426.2644
## [148]  430.9469  435.6656  440.4197  445.2090  450.0329  454.8910  459.7828
## [155]  464.7078  469.6657  474.6561  479.6784  484.7324  489.8175  494.9335
## [162]  500.0799  505.2564  510.4625  515.6980  520.9624  526.2554  531.5767
## [169]  536.9260  542.3028  547.7069  553.1380  558.5957  564.0798  569.5898
## [176]  575.1256  580.6869  586.2733  591.8845  597.5204  603.1805  608.8647
## [183]  614.5727  620.3042  626.0590  631.8367  637.6373  643.4603  649.3056
## [190]  655.1730  661.0622  666.9729  672.9050  678.8583  684.8324  690.8273
## [197]  696.8426  702.8782  708.9339  715.0095  721.1047  727.2194  733.3534
## [204]  739.5065  745.6784  751.8691  758.0784  764.3060  770.5517  776.8155
## [211]  783.0971  789.3964  795.7132  802.0473  808.3986  814.7669  821.1520
## [218]  827.5539  833.9723  840.4070  846.8581  853.3252  859.8082  866.3071
## [225]  872.8216  879.3517  885.8971  892.4579  899.0337  905.6245  912.2301
## [232]  918.8505  925.4855  932.1350  938.7988  945.4768  952.1689  958.8751
## [239]  965.5951  972.3288  979.0762  985.8371  992.6114  999.3990 1006.1999
## [246] 1013.0138 1019.8406 1026.6804 1033.5329 1040.3981 1047.2759 1054.1661
## [253] 1061.0687 1067.9835 1074.9105 1081.8496 1088.8007 1095.7636 1102.7384
## [260] 1109.7249 1116.7229 1123.7325 1130.7535 1137.7859 1144.8296 1151.8844
## [267] 1158.9503 1166.0272 1173.1151 1180.2137 1187.3232 1194.4434 1201.5741
## [274] 1208.7154 1215.8671 1223.0292 1230.2016 1237.3843 1244.5771 1251.7799
## [281] 1258.9928 1266.2156 1273.4483 1280.6908 1287.9430 1295.2048 1302.4763
## [288] 1309.7573 1317.0477 1324.3475 1331.6567 1338.9751 1346.3027 1353.6395
## [295] 1360.9853 1368.3401 1375.7039 1383.0766 1390.4581 1397.8484 1405.2474

Our maximum likelihood exstimate (MLE) of $$\lambda$$ is:

MLE <- lambdas[which.min(negLL.vector)]
MLE
## [1] 7.8

And this is the plot of the negative log-likelihood function, together with the MLE (vertical line):

plot(lambdas, negLL.vector, ylab="Negative Log Likelihood")
abline(v=MLE)

Interactive visualization:

manipulate(plot.poisson.ll(x, lambda),
lambda = slider(1, 20, step = 0.01))