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Parsimonious model selection using information theory: A modified selection rule

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Yates, LA ORCID: 0000-0002-1685-3169, Richards, SA ORCID: 0000-0002-9638-5827 and Brook, BW ORCID: 0000-0002-2491-1517 2021 , 'Parsimonious model selection using information theory: A modified selection rule' , Ecology, vol. 102, no. 10 , pp. 1-9 , doi: 10.1002/ecy.3475.

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Abstract

Information-theoretic approaches to model selection, such as Akaike's information criterion (AIC) and cross validation, provide a rigorous framework to select among candidate hypotheses in ecology, yet the persistent concern of overfitting undermines the interpretation of inferred processes. A common misconception is that overfitting is due to the choice of criterion or model score, despite research demonstrating that selection uncertainty associated with score estimation is the predominant influence. Here we introduce a novel selection rule that identifies a parsimonious model by directly accounting for estimation uncertainty, while still retaining an information-theoretic interpretation. The new rule, which is a modification of the existing one-standard-error rule, mitigates overfitting and reduces the likelihood that spurious effects will be included in the selected model, thereby improving its inferential properties. We present the rule and illustrative examples in the context of maximum-likelihood estimation and Kullback-Leibler discrepancy, although the rule is applicable in a more general setting, including Bayesian model selection and other types of discrepancy.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Yates, LA and Richards, SA and Brook, BW
Keywords: model selection, ecological statistics, information theory, parsimony, cross validation, overfitting, post-selection inference
Journal or Publication Title: Ecology
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ISSN: 0012-9658
DOI / ID Number: 10.1002/ecy.3475
Copyright Information:

© 2021 by the Ecological Society of America

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