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README.md

Probability Distribution Monad

Makes it easy to create, manipulate and sample probability distributions.

Installation

Include this in your sbt config:

"org.jliszka" %% "probability-monad" % "1.0.1"

Examples

Here's how you would code up the following problem: You are given either a fair coin or a biased coin with equal probability. If you flip it 5 times and it comes up heads each time, what is the probability you have the fair coin?

case class Trial(haveFairCoin: Boolean, flips: List[Coin])

def bayesianCoin(nflips: Int): Distribution[Trial] = {
  for {
    haveFairCoin <- tf()
    c = if (haveFairCoin) coin else biasedCoin(0.9)
    flips <- c.repeat(nflips)
  } yield Trial(haveFairCoin, flips)
}

bayesianCoin(5).given(_.flips.forall(_ == H)).pr(_.haveFairCoin)

Or: You repeatedly roll a 6-sided die and keep a running sum. What is the probability the sum reaches exactly 30?

def dieSum(rolls: Int): Distribution[List[Int]] = {
  markov(rolls, List(0))(runningSum => for {
    d <- die
  } yield (d + runningSum.head) :: runningSum)
}

dieSum(30).pr(_ contains 30)

Or: Each family has children until it has a boy, and then stops. What is the expected fraction of girls in the population?

sealed abstract class Child
case object Boy extends Child
case object Girl extends Child

def family = {
  discreteUniform(List(Boy, Girl)).until(_ contains Boy)
}

def population(families: Int) = {
  for {
    children <- family.repeat(families).map(_.flatten)
    val girls = children.count(_ == Girl)
  } yield 1.0 * girls / children.length
}

population(4).ev

How it works

A Distribution[T] represents a random variable that, when sampled, produces values of type T according to a particular probability distribution. For example, Distribution.uniform is a Distribution[Double] that produces Double values between 0.0 and 1.0, uniformly distributed. Distribution.coin is a Distribution[Coin] that produces the values H and T with equal probability, and Distribution.biasedCoin(0.3) is a Distribution[Coin] that produces the value H 30% of the time and the value T 70% of the time.

You can think of a Distribution[T] as a collection like any other scala collection that you can map, flatMap and filter over. The presence of these methods allow you to use scala's for-comprehensions to manipulate distributions. For example, here's how you would create a distribution that represents the sum of 2 die rolls:

val dice = for {
  d1 <- die
  d2 <- die
} yield d1 + d2

Here, die is a Distribution[Int], and d1 and d2 are both Ints. The type of dice is Distribution[Int]. You can see that for-comprehensions are an easy way to define new a distribution in terms of individual samples from other distributions.

You can visualize a distribution with hist:

scala> dice.hist
 2  2.61% ##
 3  5.48% #####
 4  8.70% ########
 5 10.53% ##########
 6 14.21% ##############
 7 16.90% ################
 8 13.90% #############
 9 11.43% ###########
10  8.35% ########
11  5.17% #####
12  2.72% ##

If you want more control over the display of continuous distributions, use bucketedHist:

scala> normal.map(_ * 2 + 1).bucketedHist(20)   // 20 buckets, min & max determined automatically
-7.0  0.02%
-6.0  0.03%
-5.0  0.22%
-4.0  1.01% #
-3.0  2.69% ##
-2.0  6.43% ######
-1.0 12.19% ############
 0.0 17.07% #################
 1.0 19.74% ###################
 2.0 17.55% #################
 3.0 12.17% ############
 4.0  6.55% ######
 5.0  2.92% ##
 6.0  1.10% #
 7.0  0.23%
 8.0  0.06%
 9.0  0.01%
10.0  0.01%

scala> cauchy.bucketedHist(-10, 10, 20)   // min=-10, max=10, #buckets=20
-10.0  0.20%
 -9.0  0.38%
 -8.0  0.44%
 -7.0  0.55%
 -6.0  0.82%
 -5.0  1.23% #
 -4.0  1.85% #
 -3.0  2.92% ##
 -2.0  6.78% ######
 -1.0 16.78% ################
  0.0 30.04% ##############################
  1.0 16.64% ################
  2.0  6.22% ######
  3.0  3.06% ###
  4.0  1.76% #
  5.0  1.26% #
  6.0  0.84%
  7.0  0.67%
  8.0  0.48%
  9.0  0.42%
 10.0  0.14%

This probability monad is based on sampling, so the values and plots produced will be inexact and will vary between runs.

scala> normal.stdev
res9: Double = 1.0044818262040809

scala> normal.stdev
res10: Double = 1.0071194147525722

Code and examples

Distribution.scala contains code for creating and manipulating probability distributions. Built-in distributions include:

  • uniform discrete (including die and fair coin)
  • weighted discrete (biased coin, uses the alias method)
  • bernoulli
  • geometric
  • binomial
  • negative binomial
  • poisson
  • zipf
  • uniform continuous
  • normal
  • cauchy
  • chi2
  • pareto
  • exponential
  • lognormal
  • student's t-distribution
  • gamma
  • beta

Methods for manipulating distributions include:

  • adding (convolution), subracting (cross-correlation), multiplying and dividing distributions
  • joint distributions (a flatMap)
  • marginal distributions (a filter)
  • creating Markov chains (an iterated flatMap)
  • finding the probability of arbitrary predicates, conditional probabililty
  • finding expected values (mean), standard deviation, variance, skewness and kurtosis
  • sampling, histogram

Examples.scala contains some example uses, and possibly a RISK simulator.

To try out some examples, do

$ ./sbt console

scala> runBayesianCoin(5)

Contributions welcome!