Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

George Woodworth

Second Advisor

Matthew Bognar


Bayesian surface smoothing using splines usually proceeds by choosing the smoothness parameter through the use of data driven methods like generalized cross validation. In this methodology, knots of the splines are assumed to lie at the data locations. When anisotropy is present in the data, modeling is done via parametric functions.

In the present thesis, we have proposed a non-parametric approach to Bayesian surface smoothing in the presence of anisotropy. We use eigenfunctions generated by thin-plate splines as our basis functions. Using eigenfunctions does away with having to place knots arbitrarily, as is done customarily. The smoothing parameter, the anisotropy matrix, and other parameters are simultaneously updated by a Reversible Jump Markov Chain Monte Carlo (RJMCMC) sampler. Unique in our implementation is model selection, which is again done concurrently with the parameter updates.

Since the posterior distribution of the coefficients of the basis functions for any given model order is available in closed form, we are able to simplify the sampling algorithm in the model selection step. This also helps us in isolating the parameters which influence the model selection step.

We investigate the relationship between the number of basis functions used in the model and the smoothness parameter and find that there is a delicate balance which exists between the two. Higher values of the smoothness parameter correspond to more number of basis functions being selected.

Use of a non-parametric approach to Bayesian surface smoothing provides for more modeling flexibility. We are not constrained by the shape defined by a parametric shape of the covariance as used by earlier methods. A Bayesian approach also allows us to include the results obtained from previous analysis of the same data, if any, as prior information. It also allows us to evaluate pointwise estimates of variability of the fitted surface. We believe that our research also poses many questions for future research.


bayesian;non-parametric;surfaces;thin plate splines;reversible jump mcmc;


ix, 73 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 72-73).


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Copyright 2007 Subhashish Chakravarty