Bayesian Thinking

Increasing popularity of Bayesian thinking

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It is remarkable to see the growth in the development and use of Bayesian methods over my academic lifetime. One way of measuring this growth is to simply count the number of Bayesian papers presented at meetings. In Statistics, our major meeting is JSM (Joint Statistical Meeting) that is held each summer in a major U.S. city. I pulled out the program for the 1983 JSM. Scanning through the abstracts, I found 18 presented papers that had Bayes in the title. Looking at the online program for the 2011 JSM, I found 58 sessions where Bayes was in the title of the session and typically a session will include 4-5 papers. Using this data, I would guess that there were approximately 15 times as many Bayesian papers presented in 2011 than in 1983.

Another way of measuring the growth is to look at the explosion of Bayesian texts that have been recently published. At first, the Bayesian books were more advanced with limited applications. Now there are many applied statistics books that illustrate the application of Bayesian thinking in many disciplines like economics, biology, ecology, and the social sciences.

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