- Dynamic GAMs
- Supported observation families
- Supported temporal dynamic processes
- Regression formulae
- Example time series data
- Manipulating data for modelling
- GLMs with temporal random effects
- Automatic forecasting for new data
- Adding predictors as “fixed” effects
- Adding predictors as smooths
- Latent dynamics in
`mvgam`

- Interested in contributing?

The purpose of this vignette is to give a general overview of the
`mvgam`

package and its primary functions.

`mvgam`

is designed to propagate unobserved temporal
processes to capture latent dynamics in the observed time series. This
works in a state-space format, with the temporal *trend* evolving
independently of the observation process. An introduction to the package
and some worked examples are also shown in this seminar: Ecological Forecasting with Dynamic Generalized Additive
Models. Briefly, assume \(\tilde{\boldsymbol{y}}_{i,t}\) is the
conditional expectation of response variable \(\boldsymbol{i}\) at time \(\boldsymbol{t}\). Assuming \(\boldsymbol{y_i}\) is drawn from an
exponential distribution with an invertible link function, the linear
predictor for a multivariate Dynamic GAM can be written as:

\[for~i~in~1:N_{series}~...\] \[for~t~in~1:N_{timepoints}~...\]

\[g^{-1}(\tilde{\boldsymbol{y}}_{i,t})=\alpha_{i}+\sum\limits_{j=1}^J\boldsymbol{s}_{i,j,t}\boldsymbol{x}_{j,t}+\boldsymbol{z}_{i,t}\,,\] Here \(\alpha\) are the unknown intercepts, the \(\boldsymbol{s}\)’s are unknown smooth functions of covariates (\(\boldsymbol{x}\)’s), which can potentially vary among the response series, and \(\boldsymbol{z}\) are dynamic latent processes. Each smooth function \(\boldsymbol{s_j}\) is composed of basis expansions whose coefficients, which must be estimated, control the functional relationship between \(\boldsymbol{x}_{j}\) and \(g^{-1}(\tilde{\boldsymbol{y}})\). The size of the basis expansion limits the smooth’s potential complexity. A larger set of basis functions allows greater flexibility. For more information on GAMs and how they can smooth through data, see this blogpost on how to interpret nonlinear effects from Generalized Additive Models.

Several advantages of GAMs are that they can model a diversity of
response families, including discrete distributions (i.e. Poisson,
Negative Binomial, Gamma) that accommodate common ecological features
such as zero-inflation or overdispersion, and that they can be
formulated to include hierarchical smoothing for multivariate responses.
`mvgam`

supports a number of different observation families,
which are summarized below:

Distribution | Function | Support | Extra parameter(s) |
---|---|---|---|

Gaussian (identity link) | `gaussian()` |
Real values in \((-\infty, \infty)\) | \(\sigma\) |

Student’s T (identity link) | `student-t()` |
Heavy-tailed real values in \((-\infty, \infty)\) | \(\sigma\), \(\nu\) |

LogNormal (identity link) | `lognormal()` |
Positive real values in \([0, \infty)\) | \(\sigma\) |

Gamma (log link) | `Gamma()` |
Positive real values in \([0, \infty)\) | \(\alpha\) |

Beta (logit link) | `betar()` |
Real values (proportional) in \([0,1]\) | \(\phi\) |

Bernoulli (logit link) | `bernoulli()` |
Binary data in \({0,1}\) | - |

Poisson (log link) | `poisson()` |
Non-negative integers in \((0,1,2,...)\) | - |

Negative Binomial2 (log link) | `nb()` |
Non-negative integers in \((0,1,2,...)\) | \(\phi\) |

Binomial (logit link) | `binomial()` |
Non-negative integers in \((0,1,2,...)\) | - |

Beta-Binomial (logit link) | `beta_binomial()` |
Non-negative integers in \((0,1,2,...)\) | \(\phi\) |

Poisson Binomial N-mixture (log link) | `nmix()` |
Non-negative integers in \((0,1,2,...)\) | - |

For all supported observation families, any extra parameters that
need to be estimated (i.e. the \(\sigma\) in a Gaussian model or the \(\phi\) in a Negative Binomial model) are by
default estimated independently for each series. However, users can opt
to force all series to share extra observation parameters using
`share_obs_params = TRUE`

in `mvgam()`

. Note that
default link functions cannot currently be changed.

The dynamic processes can take a wide variety of forms, some of which
can be multivariate to allow the different time series to interact or be
correlated. When using the `mvgam()`

function, the user
chooses between different process models with the
`trend_model`

argument. Available process models are
described in detail below.

Use `trend_model = 'RW'`

or
`trend_model = RW()`

to set up a model where each series in
`data`

has independent latent temporal dynamics of the
form:

\[\begin{align*} z_{i,t} & \sim \text{Normal}(z_{i,t-1}, \sigma_i) \end{align*}\]

Process error parameters \(\sigma\)
are modeled independently for each series. If a moving average process
is required, use `trend_model = RW(ma = TRUE)`

to set up the
following:

\[\begin{align*} z_{i,t} & = z_{i,t-1} + \theta_i * error_{i,t-1} + error_{i,t} \\ error_{i,t} & \sim \text{Normal}(0, \sigma_i) \end{align*}\]

Moving average coefficients \(\theta\) are independently estimated for each series and will be forced to be stationary by default \((abs(\theta)<1)\). Only moving averages of order \(q=1\) are currently allowed.

If more than one series is included in `data`

\((N_{series} > 1)\), a multivariate
Random Walk can be set up using
`trend_model = RW(cor = TRUE)`

, resulting in the
following:

\[\begin{align*} z_{t} & \sim \text{MVNormal}(z_{t-1}, \Sigma) \end{align*}\]

Where the latent process estimate \(z_t\) now takes the form of a vector. The
covariance matrix \(\Sigma\) will
capture contemporaneously correlated process errors. It is parameterised
using a Cholesky factorization, which requires priors on the
series-level variances \(\sigma\) and
on the strength of correlations using `Stan`

’s
`lkj_corr_cholesky`

distribution.

Moving average terms can also be included for multivariate random walks, in which case the moving average coefficients \(\theta\) will be parameterised as an \(N_{series} * N_{series}\) matrix

Autoregressive models up to \(p=3\),
in which the autoregressive coefficients are estimated independently for
each series, can be used by specifying `trend_model = 'AR1'`

,
`trend_model = 'AR2'`

, `trend_model = 'AR3'`

, or
`trend_model = AR(p = 1, 2, or 3)`

. For example, a univariate
AR(1) model takes the form:

\[\begin{align*} z_{i,t} & \sim \text{Normal}(ar1_i * z_{i,t-1}, \sigma_i) \end{align*}\]

All options are the same as for Random Walks, but additional options
will be available for placing priors on the autoregressive coefficients.
By default, these coefficients will not be forced into stationarity, but
users can impose this restriction by changing the upper and lower bounds
on their priors. See `?get_mvgam_priors`

for more
details.

A Vector Autoregression of order \(p=1\) can be specified if \(N_{series} > 1\) using
`trend_model = 'VAR1'`

or `trend_model = VAR()`

. A
VAR(1) model takes the form:

\[\begin{align*} z_{t} & \sim \text{Normal}(A * z_{t-1}, \Sigma) \end{align*}\]

Where \(A\) is an \(N_{series} * N_{series}\) matrix of
autoregressive coefficients in which the diagonals capture lagged
self-dependence (i.e. the effect of a process at time \(t\) on its own estimate at time \(t+1\)), while off-diagonals capture lagged
cross-dependence (i.e. the effect of a process at time \(t\) on the process for another series at
time \(t+1\)). By default, the
covariance matrix \(\Sigma\) will
assume no process error covariance by fixing the off-diagonals to \(0\). To allow for correlated errors, use
`trend_model = 'VAR1cor'`

or
`trend_model = VAR(cor = TRUE)`

. A moving average of order
\(q=1\) can also be included using
`trend_model = VAR(ma = TRUE, cor = TRUE)`

.

Note that for all VAR models, stationarity of the process is enforced with a structured prior distribution that is described in detail in Heaps 2022

Heaps, Sarah E. “Enforcing
stationarity through the prior in vector autoregressions.”
*Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics* 32.1 (2023):
74-83.

The final option for modelling temporal dynamics is to use a Gaussian
Process with squared exponential kernel. These are set up independently
for each series (there is currently no multivariate GP option), using
`trend_model = 'GP'`

. The dynamics for each latent process
are modelled as:

\[\begin{align*} z & \sim \text{MVNormal}(0, \Sigma_{error}) \\ \Sigma_{error}[t_i, t_j] & = \alpha^2 * exp(-0.5 * ((|t_i - t_j| / \rho))^2) \end{align*}\]

The latent dynamic process evolves from a complex, high-dimensional
Multivariate Normal distribution which depends on \(\rho\) (often called the length scale
parameter) to control how quickly the correlations between the model’s
errors decay as a function of time. For these models, covariance decays
exponentially fast with the squared distance (in time) between the
observations. The functions also depend on a parameter \(\alpha\), which controls the marginal
variability of the temporal function at all points; in other words it
controls how much the GP term contributes to the linear predictor.
`mvgam`

capitalizes on some advances that allow GPs to be
approximated using Hilbert space basis functions, which considerably speed up computation at little cost to
accuracy or prediction performance.

Modeling growth for many types of time series is often similar to
modeling population growth in natural ecosystems, where there series
exhibits nonlinear growth that saturates at some particular carrying
capacity. The logistic trend model available in {`mvgam`

}
allows for a time-varying capacity \(C(t)\) as well as a non-constant growth
rate. Changes in the base growth rate \(k\) are incorporated by explicitly defining
changepoints throughout the training period where the growth rate is
allowed to vary. The changepoint vector \(a\) is represented as a vector of
`1`

s and `0`

s, and the rate of growth at time
\(t\) is represented as \(k+a(t)^T\delta\). Potential changepoints
are selected uniformly across the training period, and the number of
changepoints, as well as the flexibility of the potential rate changes
at these changepoints, can be controlled using
`trend_model = PW()`

. The full piecewise logistic growth
model is then:

\[\begin{align*} z_t & = \frac{C_t}{1 + \exp(-(k+a(t)^T\delta)(t-(m+a(t)^T\gamma)))} \end{align*}\]

For time series that do not appear to exhibit saturating growth, a piece-wise constant rate of growth can often provide a useful trend model. The piecewise linear trend is defined as:

\[\begin{align*} z_t & = (k+a(t)^T\delta)t + (m+a(t)^T\gamma) \end{align*}\]

In both trend models, \(m\) is an offset parameter that controls the trend intercept. Because of this parameter, it is not recommended that you include an intercept in your observation formula because this will not be identifiable. You can read about the full description of piecewise linear and logistic trends in this paper by Taylor and Letham.

Sean J. Taylor and Benjamin Letham. “Forecasting
at scale.” *The American Statistician* 72.1 (2018):
37-45.

Most trend models in the `mvgam()`

function expect time to
be measured in regularly-spaced, discrete intervals (i.e. one
measurement per week, or one per year for example). But some time series
are taken at irregular intervals and we’d like to model autoregressive
properties of these. The `trend_model = CAR()`

can be useful
to set up these models, which currently only support autoregressive
processes of order `1`

. The evolution of the latent dynamic
process follows the form:

\[\begin{align*} z_{i,t} & \sim \text{Normal}(ar1_i^{distance} * z_{i,t-1}, \sigma_i) \end{align*}\]

Where \(distance\) is a vector of
non-negative measurements of the time differences between successive
observations. See the **Examples** section in
`?CAR`

for an illustration of how to set these models up.

`mvgam`

supports an observation model regression formula,
built off the `mgcv`

package, as well as an optional process
model regression formula. The formulae supplied to are exactly like
those supplied to `glm()`

except that smooth terms,
`s()`

, `te()`

, `ti()`

and
`t2()`

, time-varying effects using `dynamic()`

,
monotonically increasing (using `s(x, bs = 'moi')`

) or
decreasing splines (using `s(x, bs = 'mod')`

; see
`?smooth.construct.moi.smooth.spec`

for details), as well as
Gaussian Process functions using `gp()`

, can be added to the
right hand side (and `.`

is not supported in
`mvgam`

formulae). See `?mvgam_formulae`

for more
guidance.

For setting up State-Space models, the optional process model formula can be used (see the State-Space model vignette and the shared latent states vignette for guidance on using trend formulae).

The ‘portal_data’ object contains time series of rodent captures from the Portal Project, a long-term monitoring study based near the town of Portal, Arizona. Researchers have been operating a standardized set of baited traps within 24 experimental plots at this site since the 1970’s. Sampling follows the lunar monthly cycle, with observations occurring on average about 28 days apart. However, missing observations do occur due to difficulties accessing the site (weather events, COVID disruptions etc…). You can read about the full sampling protocol in this preprint by Ernest et al on the Biorxiv.

As the data come pre-loaded with the `mvgam`

package, you
can read a little about it in the help page using
`?portal_data`

. Before working with data, it is important to
inspect how the data are structured, first using `head`

:

```
head(portal_data)
#> moon DM DO PP OT year month mintemp precipitation ndvi
#> 1 329 10 6 0 2 2004 1 -9.710 37.8 1.465889
#> 2 330 14 8 1 0 2004 2 -5.924 8.7 1.558507
#> 3 331 9 1 2 1 2004 3 -0.220 43.5 1.337817
#> 4 332 NA NA NA NA 2004 4 1.931 23.9 1.658913
#> 5 333 15 8 10 1 2004 5 6.568 0.9 1.853656
#> 6 334 NA NA NA NA 2004 6 11.590 1.4 1.761330
```

But the `glimpse`

function in `dplyr`

is also
useful for understanding how variables are structured

```
dplyr::glimpse(portal_data)
#> Rows: 199
#> Columns: 10
#> $ moon <int> 329, 330, 331, 332, 333, 334, 335, 336, 337, 338, 339, 3…
#> $ DM <int> 10, 14, 9, NA, 15, NA, NA, 9, 5, 8, NA, 14, 7, NA, NA, 9…
#> $ DO <int> 6, 8, 1, NA, 8, NA, NA, 3, 3, 4, NA, 3, 8, NA, NA, 3, NA…
#> $ PP <int> 0, 1, 2, NA, 10, NA, NA, 16, 18, 12, NA, 3, 2, NA, NA, 1…
#> $ OT <int> 2, 0, 1, NA, 1, NA, NA, 1, 0, 0, NA, 2, 1, NA, NA, 1, NA…
#> $ year <int> 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 20…
#> $ month <int> 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,…
#> $ mintemp <dbl> -9.710, -5.924, -0.220, 1.931, 6.568, 11.590, 14.370, 16…
#> $ precipitation <dbl> 37.8, 8.7, 43.5, 23.9, 0.9, 1.4, 20.3, 91.0, 60.5, 25.2,…
#> $ ndvi <dbl> 1.4658889, 1.5585069, 1.3378172, 1.6589129, 1.8536561, 1…
```

We will focus analyses on the time series of captures for one
specific rodent species, the Desert Pocket Mouse *Chaetodipus
penicillatus*. This species is interesting in that it goes into a
kind of “hibernation” during the colder months, leading to very low
captures during the winter period

Manipulating the data into a ‘long’ format is necessary for modelling
in `mvgam`

. By ‘long’ format, we mean that each
`series x time`

observation needs to have its own entry in
the `dataframe`

or `list`

object that we wish to
use as data for modelling. A simple example can be viewed by simulating
data using the `sim_mvgam`

function. See
`?sim_mvgam`

for more details

```
data <- sim_mvgam(n_series = 4, T = 24)
head(data$data_train, 12)
#> y season year series time
#> 1 1 1 1 series_1 1
#> 2 5 1 1 series_2 1
#> 3 2 1 1 series_3 1
#> 4 3 1 1 series_4 1
#> 5 3 2 1 series_1 2
#> 6 8 2 1 series_2 2
#> 7 1 2 1 series_3 2
#> 8 2 2 1 series_4 2
#> 9 2 3 1 series_1 3
#> 10 4 3 1 series_2 3
#> 11 1 3 1 series_3 3
#> 12 2 3 1 series_4 3
```

Notice how we have four different time series in these simulated
data, but we do not spread the outcome values into different columns.
Rather, there is only a single column for the outcome variable, labelled
`y`

in these simulated data. We also must supply a variable
labelled `time`

to ensure the modelling software knows how to
arrange the time series when building models. This setup still allows us
to formulate multivariate time series models, as you can see in the State-Space
vignette. Below are the steps needed to shape our
`portal_data`

object into the correct form. First, we create
a `time`

variable, select the column representing counts of
our target species (`PP`

), and select appropriate variables
that we can use as predictors

```
portal_data %>%
# mvgam requires a 'time' variable be present in the data to index
# the temporal observations. This is especially important when tracking
# multiple time series. In the Portal data, the 'moon' variable indexes the
# lunar monthly timestep of the trapping sessions
dplyr::mutate(time = moon - (min(moon)) + 1) %>%
# We can also provide a more informative name for the outcome variable, which
# is counts of the 'PP' species (Chaetodipus penicillatus) across all control
# plots
dplyr::mutate(count = PP) %>%
# The other requirement for mvgam is a 'series' variable, which needs to be a
# factor variable to index which time series each row in the data belongs to.
# Again, this is more useful when you have multiple time series in the data
dplyr::mutate(series = as.factor('PP')) %>%
# Select the variables of interest to keep in the model_data
dplyr::select(series, year, time, count, mintemp, ndvi) -> model_data
```

The data now contain six variables:

`series`

, a factor indexing which time series each
observation belongs to

`year`

, the year of sampling

`time`

, the indicator of which time step each observation
belongs to

`count`

, the response variable representing the number of
captures of the species `PP`

in each sampling
observation

`mintemp`

, the monthly average minimum temperature at each
time step

`ndvi`

, the monthly average Normalized Difference Vegetation
Index at each time step

Now check the data structure again

```
head(model_data)
#> series year time count mintemp ndvi
#> 1 PP 2004 1 0 -9.710 1.465889
#> 2 PP 2004 2 1 -5.924 1.558507
#> 3 PP 2004 3 2 -0.220 1.337817
#> 4 PP 2004 4 NA 1.931 1.658913
#> 5 PP 2004 5 10 6.568 1.853656
#> 6 PP 2004 6 NA 11.590 1.761330
```

```
dplyr::glimpse(model_data)
#> Rows: 199
#> Columns: 6
#> $ series <fct> PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP…
#> $ year <int> 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 20…
#> $ time <dbl> 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18,…
#> $ count <int> 0, 1, 2, NA, 10, NA, NA, 16, 18, 12, NA, 3, 2, NA, NA, 13, NA,…
#> $ mintemp <dbl> -9.710, -5.924, -0.220, 1.931, 6.568, 11.590, 14.370, 16.520, …
#> $ ndvi <dbl> 1.4658889, 1.5585069, 1.3378172, 1.6589129, 1.8536561, 1.76132…
```

You can also summarize multiple variables, which is helpful to search for data ranges and identify missing values

```
summary(model_data)
#> series year time count mintemp
#> PP:199 Min. :2004 Min. : 1.0 Min. : 0.00 Min. :-24.000
#> 1st Qu.:2008 1st Qu.: 50.5 1st Qu.: 2.50 1st Qu.: -3.884
#> Median :2012 Median :100.0 Median :12.00 Median : 2.130
#> Mean :2012 Mean :100.0 Mean :15.14 Mean : 3.504
#> 3rd Qu.:2016 3rd Qu.:149.5 3rd Qu.:24.00 3rd Qu.: 12.310
#> Max. :2020 Max. :199.0 Max. :65.00 Max. : 18.140
#> NA's :36
#> ndvi
#> Min. :0.2817
#> 1st Qu.:1.0741
#> Median :1.3501
#> Mean :1.4709
#> 3rd Qu.:1.8178
#> Max. :3.9126
#>
```

We have some `NA`

s in our response variable
`count`

. These observations will generally be thrown out by
most modelling packages in . But as you will see when we work through
the tutorials, `mvgam`

keeps these in the data so that
predictions can be automatically returned for the full dataset. The time
series and some of its descriptive features can be plotted using
`plot_mvgam_series()`

:

Our first task will be to fit a Generalized Linear Model (GLM) that
can adequately capture the features of our `count`

observations (integer data, lower bound at zero, missing values) while
also attempting to model temporal variation. We are almost ready to fit
our first model, which will be a GLM with Poisson observations, a log
link function and random (hierarchical) intercepts for
`year`

. This will allow us to capture our prior belief that,
although each year is unique, having been sampled from the same
population of effects, all years are connected and thus might contain
valuable information about one another. This will be done by
capitalizing on the partial pooling properties of hierarchical models.
Hierarchical (also known as random) effects offer many advantages when
modelling data with grouping structures (i.e. multiple species,
locations, years etc…). The ability to incorporate these in time series
models is a huge advantage over traditional models such as ARIMA or
Exponential Smoothing. But before we fit the model, we will need to
convert `year`

to a factor so that we can use a random effect
basis in `mvgam`

. See `?smooth.terms`

and
`?smooth.construct.re.smooth.spec`

for details about the
`re`

basis construction that is used by both
`mvgam`

and `mgcv`

```
model_data %>%
# Create a 'year_fac' factor version of 'year'
dplyr::mutate(year_fac = factor(year)) -> model_data
```

Preview the dataset to ensure year is now a factor with a unique factor level for each year in the data

```
dplyr::glimpse(model_data)
#> Rows: 199
#> Columns: 7
#> $ series <fct> PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, PP, P…
#> $ year <int> 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2…
#> $ time <dbl> 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18…
#> $ count <int> 0, 1, 2, NA, 10, NA, NA, 16, 18, 12, NA, 3, 2, NA, NA, 13, NA…
#> $ mintemp <dbl> -9.710, -5.924, -0.220, 1.931, 6.568, 11.590, 14.370, 16.520,…
#> $ ndvi <dbl> 1.4658889, 1.5585069, 1.3378172, 1.6589129, 1.8536561, 1.7613…
#> $ year_fac <fct> 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2004, 2…
levels(model_data$year_fac)
#> [1] "2004" "2005" "2006" "2007" "2008" "2009" "2010" "2011" "2012" "2013"
#> [11] "2014" "2015" "2016" "2017" "2018" "2019" "2020"
```

We are now ready for our first `mvgam`

model. The syntax
will be familiar to users who have previously built models with
`mgcv`

. But for a refresher, see `?formula.gam`

and the examples in `?gam`

. Random effects can be specified
using the `s`

wrapper with the `re`

basis. Note
that we can also suppress the primary intercept using the usual
`R`

formula syntax `- 1`

. `mvgam`

has a
number of possible observation families that can be used, see
`?mvgam_families`

for more information. We will use
`Stan`

as the fitting engine, which deploys Hamiltonian Monte
Carlo (HMC) for full Bayesian inference. By default, 4 HMC chains will
be run using a warmup of 500 iterations and collecting 500 posterior
samples from each chain. The package will also aim to use the
`Cmdstan`

backend when possible, so it is recommended that
users have an up-to-date installation of `Cmdstan`

and the
associated `cmdstanr`

interface on their machines (note that
you can set the backend yourself using the `backend`

argument: see `?mvgam`

for details). Interested users should
consult the `Stan`

user’s guide for more information
about the software and the enormous variety of models that can be
tackled with HMC.

The model can be described mathematically for each timepoint \(t\) as follows: \[\begin{align*} \boldsymbol{count}_t & \sim \text{Poisson}(\lambda_t) \\ log(\lambda_t) & = \beta_{year[year_t]} \\ \beta_{year} & \sim \text{Normal}(\mu_{year}, \sigma_{year}) \end{align*}\]

Where the \(\beta_{year}\) effects
are drawn from a *population* distribution that is parameterized
by a common mean \((\mu_{year})\) and
variance \((\sigma_{year})\). Priors on
most of the model parameters can be interrogated and changed using
similar functionality to the options available in `brms`

. For
example, the default priors on \((\mu_{year})\) and \((\sigma_{year})\) can be viewed using the
following code:

```
get_mvgam_priors(count ~ s(year_fac, bs = 're') - 1,
family = poisson(),
data = model_data)
#> param_name param_length param_info
#> 1 vector[1] mu_raw; 1 s(year_fac) pop mean
#> 2 vector<lower=0>[1] sigma_raw; 1 s(year_fac) pop sd
#> prior example_change
#> 1 mu_raw ~ std_normal(); mu_raw ~ normal(-0.7, 0.81);
#> 2 sigma_raw ~ student_t(3, 0, 2.5); sigma_raw ~ exponential(0.85);
#> new_lowerbound new_upperbound
#> 1 NA NA
#> 2 NA NA
```

See examples in `?get_mvgam_priors`

to find out different
ways that priors can be altered. Once the model has finished, the first
step is to inspect the `summary`

to ensure no major
diagnostic warnings have been produced and to quickly summarise
posterior distributions for key parameters

```
summary(model1)
#> GAM formula:
#> count ~ s(year_fac, bs = "re") - 1
#> <environment: 0x0000024869b48078>
#>
#> Family:
#> poisson
#>
#> Link function:
#> log
#>
#> Trend model:
#> None
#>
#> N series:
#> 1
#>
#> N timepoints:
#> 199
#>
#> Status:
#> Fitted using Stan
#> 4 chains, each with iter = 1000; warmup = 500; thin = 1
#> Total post-warmup draws = 2000
#>
#>
#> GAM coefficient (beta) estimates:
#> 2.5% 50% 97.5% Rhat n_eff
#> s(year_fac).1 1.80 2.0 2.3 1.00 2660
#> s(year_fac).2 2.50 2.7 2.9 1.00 2901
#> s(year_fac).3 3.00 3.1 3.2 1.00 3803
#> s(year_fac).4 3.10 3.3 3.4 1.00 2872
#> s(year_fac).5 1.90 2.1 2.3 1.00 3127
#> s(year_fac).6 1.50 1.8 2.0 1.00 2977
#> s(year_fac).7 1.80 2.0 2.3 1.00 2586
#> s(year_fac).8 2.80 3.0 3.1 1.00 3608
#> s(year_fac).9 3.10 3.3 3.4 1.00 2846
#> s(year_fac).10 2.60 2.8 2.9 1.00 2911
#> s(year_fac).11 3.00 3.1 3.2 1.00 3026
#> s(year_fac).12 3.10 3.2 3.3 1.00 2736
#> s(year_fac).13 2.00 2.2 2.5 1.00 2887
#> s(year_fac).14 2.50 2.6 2.8 1.00 3026
#> s(year_fac).15 1.90 2.2 2.4 1.00 2268
#> s(year_fac).16 1.90 2.1 2.3 1.00 2649
#> s(year_fac).17 -0.26 1.1 1.9 1.01 384
#>
#> GAM group-level estimates:
#> 2.5% 50% 97.5% Rhat n_eff
#> mean(s(year_fac)) 2.00 2.40 2.8 1.01 209
#> sd(s(year_fac)) 0.46 0.68 1.1 1.02 193
#>
#> Approximate significance of GAM smooths:
#> edf Ref.df Chi.sq p-value
#> s(year_fac) 13.7 17 1637 <2e-16 ***
#> ---
#> Signif. codes: 0 '***' 0.001 '**' 0.01 '*' 0.05 '.' 0.1 ' ' 1
#>
#> Stan MCMC diagnostics:
#> n_eff / iter looks reasonable for all parameters
#> Rhat looks reasonable for all parameters
#> 0 of 2000 iterations ended with a divergence (0%)
#> 0 of 2000 iterations saturated the maximum tree depth of 12 (0%)
#> E-FMI indicated no pathological behavior
#>
#> Samples were drawn using NUTS(diag_e) at Wed Sep 04 11:30:51 AM 2024.
#> For each parameter, n_eff is a crude measure of effective sample size,
#> and Rhat is the potential scale reduction factor on split MCMC chains
#> (at convergence, Rhat = 1)
```

The diagnostic messages at the bottom of the summary show that the
HMC sampler did not encounter any problems or difficult posterior
spaces. This is a good sign. Posterior distributions for model
parameters can be extracted in any way that an object of class
`brmsfit`

can (see `?mvgam::mvgam_draws`

for
details). For example, we can extract the coefficients related to the
GAM linear predictor (i.e. the \(\beta\)’s) into a `data.frame`

using:

```
beta_post <- as.data.frame(model1, variable = 'betas')
dplyr::glimpse(beta_post)
#> Rows: 2,000
#> Columns: 17
#> $ `s(year_fac).1` <dbl> 2.21482, 1.93877, 2.29682, 1.74808, 1.95131, 2.24533,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).2` <dbl> 2.76723, 2.60145, 2.79886, 2.65931, 2.71225, 2.68233,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).3` <dbl> 2.94903, 3.09928, 3.09161, 3.10005, 3.18758, 3.16841,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).4` <dbl> 3.26861, 3.25354, 3.33401, 3.27266, 3.32254, 3.28928,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).5` <dbl> 2.24324, 2.07771, 2.09387, 2.20329, 2.09680, 2.22082,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).6` <dbl> 1.84890, 1.72516, 1.75302, 1.59202, 1.89224, 1.89458,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).7` <dbl> 2.06401, 2.20919, 1.88047, 2.09898, 2.12196, 2.01012,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).8` <dbl> 3.02799, 2.87193, 3.06112, 3.03637, 2.92891, 2.91725,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).9` <dbl> 3.21091, 3.28829, 3.20874, 3.15167, 3.27000, 3.29526,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).10` <dbl> 2.81849, 2.68918, 2.81146, 2.74898, 2.65924, 2.81729,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).11` <dbl> 3.06540, 3.01926, 3.12711, 3.12696, 3.06283, 3.10466,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).12` <dbl> 3.16679, 3.14866, 3.20039, 3.17305, 3.27057, 3.16223,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).13` <dbl> 2.12371, 2.38737, 2.07735, 2.22997, 2.08580, 2.14124,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).14` <dbl> 2.69768, 2.57665, 2.66538, 2.51016, 2.64938, 2.42338,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).15` <dbl> 2.21619, 2.14404, 2.24750, 2.14194, 2.10472, 2.24652,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).16` <dbl> 2.15356, 2.06512, 2.02614, 2.14004, 2.21221, 2.07094,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).17` <dbl> -0.0533815, 0.4696020, -0.2424530, 1.2282600, 1.16988…
```

With any model fitted in `mvgam`

, the underlying
`Stan`

code can be viewed using the `code`

function:

```
code(model1)
#> // Stan model code generated by package mvgam
#> data {
#> int<lower=0> total_obs; // total number of observations
#> int<lower=0> n; // number of timepoints per series
#> int<lower=0> n_series; // number of series
#> int<lower=0> num_basis; // total number of basis coefficients
#> matrix[total_obs, num_basis] X; // mgcv GAM design matrix
#> array[n, n_series] int<lower=0> ytimes; // time-ordered matrix (which col in X belongs to each [time, series] observation?)
#> int<lower=0> n_nonmissing; // number of nonmissing observations
#> array[n_nonmissing] int<lower=0> flat_ys; // flattened nonmissing observations
#> matrix[n_nonmissing, num_basis] flat_xs; // X values for nonmissing observations
#> array[n_nonmissing] int<lower=0> obs_ind; // indices of nonmissing observations
#> }
#> parameters {
#> // raw basis coefficients
#> vector[num_basis] b_raw;
#>
#> // random effect variances
#> vector<lower=0>[1] sigma_raw;
#>
#> // random effect means
#> vector[1] mu_raw;
#> }
#> transformed parameters {
#> // basis coefficients
#> vector[num_basis] b;
#> b[1 : 17] = mu_raw[1] + b_raw[1 : 17] * sigma_raw[1];
#> }
#> model {
#> // prior for random effect population variances
#> sigma_raw ~ student_t(3, 0, 2.5);
#>
#> // prior for random effect population means
#> mu_raw ~ std_normal();
#>
#> // prior (non-centred) for s(year_fac)...
#> b_raw[1 : 17] ~ std_normal();
#> {
#> // likelihood functions
#> flat_ys ~ poisson_log_glm(flat_xs, 0.0, b);
#> }
#> }
#> generated quantities {
#> vector[total_obs] eta;
#> matrix[n, n_series] mus;
#> array[n, n_series] int ypred;
#>
#> // posterior predictions
#> eta = X * b;
#> for (s in 1 : n_series) {
#> mus[1 : n, s] = eta[ytimes[1 : n, s]];
#> ypred[1 : n, s] = poisson_log_rng(mus[1 : n, s]);
#> }
#> }
```

Now for interrogating the model. We can get some sense of the
variation in yearly intercepts from the summary above, but it is easier
to understand them using targeted plots. Plot posterior distributions of
the temporal random effects using `plot.mvgam`

with
`type = 're'`

. See `?plot.mvgam`

for more details
about the types of plots that can be produced from fitted
`mvgam`

objects

`bayesplot`

supportWe can also capitalize on most of the useful MCMC plotting functions
from the `bayesplot`

package to visualize posterior
distributions and diagnostics (see `?mvgam::mcmc_plot.mvgam`

for details):

We can also use the wide range of posterior checking functions
available in `bayesplot`

(see
`?mvgam::ppc_check.mvgam`

for details):

There is clearly some variation in these yearly intercept estimates.
But how do these translate into time-varying predictions? To understand
this, we can plot posterior hindcasts from this model for the training
period using `plot.mvgam`

with
`type = 'forecast'`

If you wish to extract these hindcasts for other downstream analyses,
the `hindcast`

function can be used. This will return a list
object of class `mvgam_forecast`

. In the
`hindcasts`

slot, a matrix of posterior retrodictions will be
returned for each series in the data (only one series in our
example):

```
hc <- hindcast(model1)
str(hc)
#> List of 15
#> $ call :Class 'formula' language count ~ s(year_fac, bs = "re") - 1
#> .. ..- attr(*, ".Environment")=<environment: 0x0000024869b48078>
#> $ trend_call : NULL
#> $ family : chr "poisson"
#> $ trend_model : chr "None"
#> $ drift : logi FALSE
#> $ use_lv : logi FALSE
#> $ fit_engine : chr "stan"
#> $ type : chr "response"
#> $ series_names : chr "PP"
#> $ train_observations:List of 1
#> ..$ PP: int [1:199] 0 1 2 NA 10 NA NA 16 18 12 ...
#> $ train_times : num [1:199] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ...
#> $ test_observations : NULL
#> $ test_times : NULL
#> $ hindcasts :List of 1
#> ..$ PP: num [1:2000, 1:199] 11 3 14 9 10 9 15 9 11 10 ...
#> .. ..- attr(*, "dimnames")=List of 2
#> .. .. ..$ : NULL
#> .. .. ..$ : chr [1:199] "ypred[1,1]" "ypred[2,1]" "ypred[3,1]" "ypred[4,1]" ...
#> $ forecasts : NULL
#> - attr(*, "class")= chr "mvgam_forecast"
```

You can also extract these hindcasts on the linear predictor scale, which in this case is the log scale (our Poisson GLM used a log link function). Sometimes this can be useful for asking more targeted questions about drivers of variation:

In any regression analysis, a key question is whether the residuals
show any patterns that can be indicative of un-modelled sources of
variation. For GLMs, we can use a modified residual called the Dunn-Smyth,
or randomized quantile, residual. Inspect Dunn-Smyth residuals from
the model using `plot.mvgam`

with
`type = 'residuals'`

These temporal random effects do not have a sense of “time”. Because
of this, each yearly random intercept is not restricted in some way to
be similar to the previous yearly intercept. This drawback becomes
evident when we predict for a new year. To do this, we can repeat the
exercise above but this time will split the data into training and
testing sets before re-running the model. We can then supply the test
set as `newdata`

. For splitting, we will make use of the
`filter`

function from `dplyr`

```
model_data %>%
dplyr::filter(time <= 160) -> data_train
model_data %>%
dplyr::filter(time > 160) -> data_test
```

```
model1b <- mvgam(count ~ s(year_fac, bs = 're') - 1,
family = poisson(),
data = data_train,
newdata = data_test)
```

We can view the test data in the forecast plot to see that the predictions do not capture the temporal variation in the test set

As with the `hindcast`

function, we can use the
`forecast`

function to automatically extract the posterior
distributions for these predictions. This also returns an object of
class `mvgam_forecast`

, but now it will contain both the
hindcasts and forecasts for each series in the data:

```
fc <- forecast(model1b)
str(fc)
#> List of 16
#> $ call :Class 'formula' language count ~ s(year_fac, bs = "re") - 1
#> .. ..- attr(*, ".Environment")=<environment: 0x0000024869b48078>
#> $ trend_call : NULL
#> $ family : chr "poisson"
#> $ family_pars : NULL
#> $ trend_model : chr "None"
#> $ drift : logi FALSE
#> $ use_lv : logi FALSE
#> $ fit_engine : chr "stan"
#> $ type : chr "response"
#> $ series_names : Factor w/ 1 level "PP": 1
#> $ train_observations:List of 1
#> ..$ PP: int [1:160] 0 1 2 NA 10 NA NA 16 18 12 ...
#> $ train_times : num [1:160] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ...
#> $ test_observations :List of 1
#> ..$ PP: int [1:39] NA 0 0 10 3 14 18 NA 28 46 ...
#> $ test_times : num [1:39] 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 ...
#> $ hindcasts :List of 1
#> ..$ PP: num [1:2000, 1:160] 12 7 15 10 5 13 13 8 3 11 ...
#> .. ..- attr(*, "dimnames")=List of 2
#> .. .. ..$ : NULL
#> .. .. ..$ : chr [1:160] "ypred[1,1]" "ypred[2,1]" "ypred[3,1]" "ypred[4,1]" ...
#> $ forecasts :List of 1
#> ..$ PP: num [1:2000, 1:39] 7 6 8 8 10 14 13 5 10 7 ...
#> .. ..- attr(*, "dimnames")=List of 2
#> .. .. ..$ : NULL
#> .. .. ..$ : chr [1:39] "ypred[161,1]" "ypred[162,1]" "ypred[163,1]" "ypred[164,1]" ...
#> - attr(*, "class")= chr "mvgam_forecast"
```

Any users familiar with GLMs will know that we nearly always wish to
include predictor variables that may explain some of the variation in
our observations. Predictors are easily incorporated into GLMs / GAMs.
Here, we will update the model from above by including a parametric
(fixed) effect of `ndvi`

as a linear predictor:

```
model2 <- mvgam(count ~ s(year_fac, bs = 're') +
ndvi - 1,
family = poisson(),
data = data_train,
newdata = data_test)
```

The model can be described mathematically as follows: \[\begin{align*} \boldsymbol{count}_t & \sim \text{Poisson}(\lambda_t) \\ log(\lambda_t) & = \beta_{year[year_t]} + \beta_{ndvi} * \boldsymbol{ndvi}_t \\ \beta_{year} & \sim \text{Normal}(\mu_{year}, \sigma_{year}) \\ \beta_{ndvi} & \sim \text{Normal}(0, 1) \end{align*}\]

Where the \(\beta_{year}\) effects
are the same as before but we now have another predictor \((\beta_{ndvi})\) that applies to the
`ndvi`

value at each timepoint \(t\). Inspect the summary of this model

```
summary(model2)
#> GAM formula:
#> count ~ ndvi + s(year_fac, bs = "re") - 1
#> <environment: 0x0000024869b48078>
#>
#> Family:
#> poisson
#>
#> Link function:
#> log
#>
#> Trend model:
#> None
#>
#> N series:
#> 1
#>
#> N timepoints:
#> 199
#>
#> Status:
#> Fitted using Stan
#> 4 chains, each with iter = 1000; warmup = 500; thin = 1
#> Total post-warmup draws = 2000
#>
#>
#> GAM coefficient (beta) estimates:
#> 2.5% 50% 97.5% Rhat n_eff
#> ndvi 0.32 0.39 0.46 1 1835
#> s(year_fac).1 1.10 1.40 1.70 1 2267
#> s(year_fac).2 1.80 2.00 2.20 1 2518
#> s(year_fac).3 2.20 2.40 2.60 1 2140
#> s(year_fac).4 2.30 2.50 2.70 1 1978
#> s(year_fac).5 1.20 1.40 1.60 1 2341
#> s(year_fac).6 1.00 1.30 1.50 1 2318
#> s(year_fac).7 1.20 1.40 1.70 1 2447
#> s(year_fac).8 2.10 2.30 2.50 1 2317
#> s(year_fac).9 2.70 2.90 3.00 1 1916
#> s(year_fac).10 2.00 2.20 2.40 1 2791
#> s(year_fac).11 2.30 2.40 2.60 1 2214
#> s(year_fac).12 2.50 2.70 2.80 1 2010
#> s(year_fac).13 1.40 1.60 1.80 1 2976
#> s(year_fac).14 0.68 2.00 3.30 1 1581
#> s(year_fac).15 0.69 2.00 3.30 1 1874
#> s(year_fac).16 0.56 2.00 3.40 1 1442
#> s(year_fac).17 0.60 2.00 3.30 1 1671
#>
#> GAM group-level estimates:
#> 2.5% 50% 97.5% Rhat n_eff
#> mean(s(year_fac)) 1.6 2.0 2.3 1.01 417
#> sd(s(year_fac)) 0.4 0.6 1.0 1.01 417
#>
#> Approximate significance of GAM smooths:
#> edf Ref.df Chi.sq p-value
#> s(year_fac) 10.9 17 265 <2e-16 ***
#> ---
#> Signif. codes: 0 '***' 0.001 '**' 0.01 '*' 0.05 '.' 0.1 ' ' 1
#>
#> Stan MCMC diagnostics:
#> n_eff / iter looks reasonable for all parameters
#> Rhat looks reasonable for all parameters
#> 0 of 2000 iterations ended with a divergence (0%)
#> 0 of 2000 iterations saturated the maximum tree depth of 12 (0%)
#> E-FMI indicated no pathological behavior
#>
#> Samples were drawn using NUTS(diag_e) at Wed Sep 04 11:32:01 AM 2024.
#> For each parameter, n_eff is a crude measure of effective sample size,
#> and Rhat is the potential scale reduction factor on split MCMC chains
#> (at convergence, Rhat = 1)
```

Rather than printing the summary each time, we can also quickly look
at the posterior empirical quantiles for the fixed effect of
`ndvi`

(and other linear predictor coefficients) using
`coef`

:

```
coef(model2)
#> 2.5% 50% 97.5% Rhat n_eff
#> ndvi 0.3219980 0.3897445 0.4574249 1 1835
#> s(year_fac).1 1.1251775 1.3947750 1.6786482 1 2267
#> s(year_fac).2 1.8029418 2.0028550 2.1983995 1 2518
#> s(year_fac).3 2.1828568 2.3833850 2.5667087 1 2140
#> s(year_fac).4 2.3216057 2.5041200 2.6876810 1 1978
#> s(year_fac).5 1.1947695 1.4253400 1.6404350 1 2341
#> s(year_fac).6 1.0302375 1.2719450 1.5071408 1 2318
#> s(year_fac).7 1.1527560 1.4237300 1.6631115 1 2447
#> s(year_fac).8 2.1024232 2.2693150 2.4510250 1 2317
#> s(year_fac).9 2.7252610 2.8546400 2.9843943 1 1916
#> s(year_fac).10 1.9848580 2.1821250 2.3831660 1 2791
#> s(year_fac).11 2.2655225 2.4353150 2.6026625 1 2214
#> s(year_fac).12 2.5445065 2.6914450 2.8342325 1 2010
#> s(year_fac).13 1.3758873 1.6138700 1.8464015 1 2976
#> s(year_fac).14 0.6763885 2.0087850 3.2876045 1 1581
#> s(year_fac).15 0.6927259 1.9904050 3.3384072 1 1874
#> s(year_fac).16 0.5608287 1.9907700 3.3807122 1 1442
#> s(year_fac).17 0.5989812 2.0276550 3.3404602 1 1671
```

Look at the estimated effect of `ndvi`

using using a
histogram. This can be done by first extracting the posterior
coefficients:

```
beta_post <- as.data.frame(model2, variable = 'betas')
dplyr::glimpse(beta_post)
#> Rows: 2,000
#> Columns: 18
#> $ ndvi <dbl> 0.356033, 0.419265, 0.401340, 0.408547, 0.365358, 0.4…
#> $ `s(year_fac).1` <dbl> 1.35402, 1.49105, 1.26309, 1.22981, 1.55560, 1.46103,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).2` <dbl> 2.08371, 2.03387, 1.81765, 1.82714, 2.20838, 2.12063,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).3` <dbl> 2.43563, 2.31586, 2.36554, 2.40869, 2.38362, 2.24695,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).4` <dbl> 2.66322, 2.44635, 2.48168, 2.50480, 2.57476, 2.42963,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).5` <dbl> 1.40050, 1.33274, 1.38421, 1.36805, 1.40633, 1.34501,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).6` <dbl> 1.431430, 1.341260, 1.332540, 1.300360, 1.243430, 1.2…
#> $ `s(year_fac).7` <dbl> 1.46134, 1.25454, 1.42857, 1.41534, 1.40782, 1.40564,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).8` <dbl> 2.38557, 2.27800, 2.25584, 2.26500, 2.31796, 2.20621,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).9` <dbl> 2.80751, 2.83031, 2.73530, 2.78705, 2.84959, 2.77223,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).10` <dbl> 2.09385, 2.08026, 2.22424, 2.23312, 2.18318, 2.09513,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).11` <dbl> 2.41232, 2.36077, 2.43681, 2.47770, 2.51130, 2.44691,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).12` <dbl> 2.74478, 2.67146, 2.68431, 2.72280, 2.80983, 2.60829,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).13` <dbl> 1.63171, 1.55937, 1.71905, 1.70544, 1.52311, 1.48743,…
#> $ `s(year_fac).14` <dbl> 2.628480, 1.679080, 1.817260, 1.805210, 1.732590, 2.2…
#> $ `s(year_fac).15` <dbl> 2.5601600, 1.3652300, 1.7714600, 1.7648100, 2.4456900…
#> $ `s(year_fac).16` <dbl> 1.345990, 2.422970, 1.949050, 1.983840, 2.160030, 1.8…
#> $ `s(year_fac).17` <dbl> 2.206790, 1.674940, 1.699170, 1.657840, 2.982300, 1.1…
```

The posterior distribution for the effect of `ndvi`

is
stored in the `ndvi`

column. A quick histogram confirms our
inference that `log(counts)`

respond positively to increases
in `ndvi`

:

```
hist(beta_post$ndvi,
xlim = c(-1 * max(abs(beta_post$ndvi)),
max(abs(beta_post$ndvi))),
col = 'darkred',
border = 'white',
xlab = expression(beta[NDVI]),
ylab = '',
yaxt = 'n',
main = '',
lwd = 2)
abline(v = 0, lwd = 2.5)
```

`marginaleffects`

supportGiven our model used a nonlinear link function (log link in this
example), it can still be difficult to fully understand what
relationship our model is estimating between a predictor and the
response. Fortunately, the `marginaleffects`

package makes
this relatively straightforward. Objects of class `mvgam`

can
be used with `marginaleffects`

to inspect contrasts,
scenario-based predictions, conditional and marginal effects, all on the
outcome scale. Like `brms`

, `mvgam`

has the simple
`conditional_effects`

function to make quick and informative
plots for main effects, which rely on `marginaleffects`

support. This will likely be your go-to function for quickly
understanding patterns from fitted `mvgam`

models

Smooth functions, using penalized splines, are a major feature of
`mvgam`

. Nonlinear splines are commonly viewed as variations
of random effects in which the coefficients that control the shape of
the spline are drawn from a joint, penalized distribution. This strategy
is very often used in ecological time series analysis to capture smooth
temporal variation in the processes we seek to study. When we construct
smoothing splines, the workhorse package `mgcv`

will
calculate a set of basis functions that will collectively control the
shape and complexity of the resulting spline. It is often helpful to
visualize these basis functions to get a better sense of how splines
work. We’ll create a set of 6 basis functions to represent possible
variation in the effect of `time`

on our outcome.In addition
to constructing the basis functions, `mgcv`

also creates a
penalty matrix \(S\), which contains
**known** coefficients that work to constrain the
wiggliness of the resulting smooth function. When fitting a GAM to data,
we must estimate the smoothing parameters (\(\lambda\)) that will penalize these
matrices, resulting in constrained basis coefficients and smoother
functions that are less likely to overfit the data. This is the key to
fitting GAMs in a Bayesian framework, as we can jointly estimate the
\(\lambda\)’s using informative priors
to prevent overfitting and expand the complexity of models we can
tackle. To see this in practice, we can now fit a model that replaces
the yearly random effects with a smooth function of `time`

.
We will need a reasonably complex function (large `k`

) to try
and accommodate the temporal variation in our observations. Following
some useful advice by Gavin Simpson, we will use a
b-spline basis for the temporal smooth. Because we no longer have
intercepts for each year, we also retain the primary intercept term in
this model (there is no `-1`

in the formula now):

```
model3 <- mvgam(count ~ s(time, bs = 'bs', k = 15) +
ndvi,
family = poisson(),
data = data_train,
newdata = data_test)
```

The model can be described mathematically as follows: \[\begin{align*} \boldsymbol{count}_t & \sim \text{Poisson}(\lambda_t) \\ log(\lambda_t) & = f(\boldsymbol{time})_t + \beta_{ndvi} * \boldsymbol{ndvi}_t \\ f(\boldsymbol{time}) & = \sum_{k=1}^{K}b * \beta_{smooth} \\ \beta_{smooth} & \sim \text{MVNormal}(0, (\Omega * \lambda)^{-1}) \\ \beta_{ndvi} & \sim \text{Normal}(0, 1) \end{align*}\]

Where the smooth function \(f_{time}\) is built by summing across a set
of weighted basis functions. The basis functions \((b)\) are constructed using a thin plate
regression basis in `mgcv`

. The weights \((\beta_{smooth})\) are drawn from a
penalized multivariate normal distribution where the precision matrix
\((\Omega\)) is multiplied by a
smoothing penalty \((\lambda)\). If
\(\lambda\) becomes large, this acts to
*squeeze* the covariances among the weights \((\beta_{smooth})\), leading to a less
wiggly spline. Note that sometimes there are multiple smoothing
penalties that contribute to the covariance matrix, but I am only
showing one here for simplicity. View the summary as before

```
summary(model3)
#> GAM formula:
#> count ~ s(time, bs = "bs", k = 15) + ndvi
#> <environment: 0x0000024869b48078>
#>
#> Family:
#> poisson
#>
#> Link function:
#> log
#>
#> Trend model:
#> None
#>
#> N series:
#> 1
#>
#> N timepoints:
#> 199
#>
#> Status:
#> Fitted using Stan
#> 4 chains, each with iter = 1000; warmup = 500; thin = 1
#> Total post-warmup draws = 2000
#>
#>
#> GAM coefficient (beta) estimates:
#> 2.5% 50% 97.5% Rhat n_eff
#> (Intercept) 2.00 2.10 2.2000 1.00 815
#> ndvi 0.26 0.33 0.4000 1.01 856
#> s(time).1 -2.10 -1.10 0.0073 1.01 513
#> s(time).2 0.48 1.30 2.3000 1.01 433
#> s(time).3 -0.49 0.43 1.5000 1.01 389
#> s(time).4 1.60 2.40 3.5000 1.01 375
#> s(time).5 -1.10 -0.23 0.8300 1.01 399
#> s(time).6 -0.54 0.37 1.5000 1.01 415
#> s(time).7 -1.50 -0.54 0.5000 1.01 423
#> s(time).8 0.62 1.50 2.5000 1.01 378
#> s(time).9 1.20 2.00 3.1000 1.01 379
#> s(time).10 -0.31 0.52 1.6000 1.01 380
#> s(time).11 0.80 1.70 2.8000 1.01 377
#> s(time).12 0.71 1.50 2.4000 1.01 399
#> s(time).13 -1.20 -0.35 0.6400 1.01 497
#> s(time).14 -7.50 -4.10 -1.2000 1.01 490
#>
#> Approximate significance of GAM smooths:
#> edf Ref.df Chi.sq p-value
#> s(time) 9.83 14 64.4 <2e-16 ***
#> ---
#> Signif. codes: 0 '***' 0.001 '**' 0.01 '*' 0.05 '.' 0.1 ' ' 1
#>
#> Stan MCMC diagnostics:
#> n_eff / iter looks reasonable for all parameters
#> Rhat looks reasonable for all parameters
#> 0 of 2000 iterations ended with a divergence (0%)
#> 0 of 2000 iterations saturated the maximum tree depth of 12 (0%)
#> E-FMI indicated no pathological behavior
#>
#> Samples were drawn using NUTS(diag_e) at Wed Sep 04 11:32:49 AM 2024.
#> For each parameter, n_eff is a crude measure of effective sample size,
#> and Rhat is the potential scale reduction factor on split MCMC chains
#> (at convergence, Rhat = 1)
```

The summary above now contains posterior estimates for the smoothing
parameters as well as the basis coefficients for the nonlinear effect of
`time`

. We can visualize `conditional_effects`

as
before:

Inspect the underlying `Stan`

code to gain some idea of
how the spline is being penalized:

```
code(model3)
#> // Stan model code generated by package mvgam
#> data {
#> int<lower=0> total_obs; // total number of observations
#> int<lower=0> n; // number of timepoints per series
#> int<lower=0> n_sp; // number of smoothing parameters
#> int<lower=0> n_series; // number of series
#> int<lower=0> num_basis; // total number of basis coefficients
#> vector[num_basis] zero; // prior locations for basis coefficients
#> matrix[total_obs, num_basis] X; // mgcv GAM design matrix
#> array[n, n_series] int<lower=0> ytimes; // time-ordered matrix (which col in X belongs to each [time, series] observation?)
#> matrix[14, 28] S1; // mgcv smooth penalty matrix S1
#> int<lower=0> n_nonmissing; // number of nonmissing observations
#> array[n_nonmissing] int<lower=0> flat_ys; // flattened nonmissing observations
#> matrix[n_nonmissing, num_basis] flat_xs; // X values for nonmissing observations
#> array[n_nonmissing] int<lower=0> obs_ind; // indices of nonmissing observations
#> }
#> parameters {
#> // raw basis coefficients
#> vector[num_basis] b_raw;
#>
#> // smoothing parameters
#> vector<lower=0>[n_sp] lambda;
#> }
#> transformed parameters {
#> // basis coefficients
#> vector[num_basis] b;
#> b[1 : num_basis] = b_raw[1 : num_basis];
#> }
#> model {
#> // prior for (Intercept)...
#> b_raw[1] ~ student_t(3, 2.6, 2.5);
#>
#> // prior for ndvi...
#> b_raw[2] ~ student_t(3, 0, 2);
#>
#> // prior for s(time)...
#> b_raw[3 : 16] ~ multi_normal_prec(zero[3 : 16],
#> S1[1 : 14, 1 : 14] * lambda[1]
#> + S1[1 : 14, 15 : 28] * lambda[2]);
#>
#> // priors for smoothing parameters
#> lambda ~ normal(5, 30);
#> {
#> // likelihood functions
#> flat_ys ~ poisson_log_glm(flat_xs, 0.0, b);
#> }
#> }
#> generated quantities {
#> vector[total_obs] eta;
#> matrix[n, n_series] mus;
#> vector[n_sp] rho;
#> array[n, n_series] int ypred;
#> rho = log(lambda);
#>
#> // posterior predictions
#> eta = X * b;
#> for (s in 1 : n_series) {
#> mus[1 : n, s] = eta[ytimes[1 : n, s]];
#> ypred[1 : n, s] = poisson_log_rng(mus[1 : n, s]);
#> }
#> }
```

The line below `// prior for s(time)...`

shows how the
spline basis coefficients are drawn from a zero-centred multivariate
normal distribution. The precision matrix \(S\) is penalized by two different smoothing
parameters (the \(\lambda\)’s) to
enforce smoothness and reduce overfitting

`mvgam`

Forecasts from the above model are not ideal:

Why is this happening? The forecasts are driven almost entirely by
variation in the temporal spline, which is extrapolating linearly
*forever* beyond the edge of the training data. Any slight
wiggles near the end of the training set will result in wildly different
forecasts. To visualize this, we can plot the extrapolated temporal
functions into the out-of-sample test set for the two models. Here are
the extrapolated functions for the first model, with 15 basis
functions:

```
plot_mvgam_smooth(model3, smooth = 's(time)',
# feed newdata to the plot function to generate
# predictions of the temporal smooth to the end of the
# testing period
newdata = data.frame(time = 1:max(data_test$time),
ndvi = 0))
abline(v = max(data_train$time), lty = 'dashed', lwd = 2)
```

This model is not doing well. Clearly we need to somehow account for
the strong temporal autocorrelation when modelling these data without
using a smooth function of `time`

. Now onto another prominent
feature of `mvgam`

: the ability to include (possibly latent)
autocorrelated residuals in regression models. To do so, we use the
`trend_model`

argument (see `?mvgam_trends`

for
details of different dynamic trend models that are supported). This
model will use a separate sub-model for latent residuals that evolve as
an AR1 process (i.e. the error in the current time point is a function
of the error in the previous time point, plus some stochastic noise). We
also include a smooth function of `ndvi`

in this model,
rather than the parametric term that was used above, to showcase that
`mvgam`

can include combinations of smooths and dynamic
components:

```
model4 <- mvgam(count ~ s(ndvi, k = 6),
family = poisson(),
data = data_train,
newdata = data_test,
trend_model = 'AR1')
```

The model can be described mathematically as follows: \[\begin{align*} \boldsymbol{count}_t & \sim \text{Poisson}(\lambda_t) \\ log(\lambda_t) & = f(\boldsymbol{ndvi})_t + z_t \\ z_t & \sim \text{Normal}(ar1 * z_{t-1}, \sigma_{error}) \\ ar1 & \sim \text{Normal}(0, 1)[-1, 1] \\ \sigma_{error} & \sim \text{Exponential}(2) \\ f(\boldsymbol{ndvi}) & = \sum_{k=1}^{K}b * \beta_{smooth} \\ \beta_{smooth} & \sim \text{MVNormal}(0, (\Omega * \lambda)^{-1}) \end{align*}\]

Here the term \(z_t\) captures autocorrelated latent residuals, which are modelled using an AR1 process. You can also notice that this model is estimating autocorrelated errors for the full time period, even though some of these time points have missing observations. This is useful for getting more realistic estimates of the residual autocorrelation parameters. Summarise the model to see how it now returns posterior summaries for the latent AR1 process:

```
summary(model4)
#> GAM formula:
#> count ~ s(ndvi, k = 6)
#> <environment: 0x0000024869b48078>
#>
#> Family:
#> poisson
#>
#> Link function:
#> log
#>
#> Trend model:
#> AR1
#>
#> N series:
#> 1
#>
#> N timepoints:
#> 199
#>
#> Status:
#> Fitted using Stan
#> 4 chains, each with iter = 1000; warmup = 500; thin = 1
#> Total post-warmup draws = 2000
#>
#>
#> GAM coefficient (beta) estimates:
#> 2.5% 50% 97.5% Rhat n_eff
#> (Intercept) 1.100 2.0000 2.600 1.13 19
#> s(ndvi).1 -0.180 -0.0110 0.073 1.01 335
#> s(ndvi).2 -0.130 0.0200 0.300 1.01 381
#> s(ndvi).3 -0.052 -0.0018 0.040 1.00 893
#> s(ndvi).4 -0.210 0.1300 1.300 1.02 253
#> s(ndvi).5 -0.080 0.1500 0.350 1.00 407
#>
#> Approximate significance of GAM smooths:
#> edf Ref.df Chi.sq p-value
#> s(ndvi) 2.47 5 5.7 0.34
#>
#> Latent trend parameter AR estimates:
#> 2.5% 50% 97.5% Rhat n_eff
#> ar1[1] 0.70 0.81 0.92 1 416
#> sigma[1] 0.68 0.79 0.95 1 378
#>
#> Stan MCMC diagnostics:
#> n_eff / iter looks reasonable for all parameters
#> Rhats above 1.05 found for 94 parameters
#> *Diagnose further to investigate why the chains have not mixed
#> 0 of 2000 iterations ended with a divergence (0%)
#> 0 of 2000 iterations saturated the maximum tree depth of 12 (0%)
#> E-FMI indicated no pathological behavior
#>
#> Samples were drawn using NUTS(diag_e) at Wed Sep 04 11:34:00 AM 2024.
#> For each parameter, n_eff is a crude measure of effective sample size,
#> and Rhat is the potential scale reduction factor on split MCMC chains
#> (at convergence, Rhat = 1)
```

View posterior hindcasts / forecasts and compare against the out of sample test data

The trend is evolving as an AR1 process, which we can also view:

In-sample model performance can be interrogated using leave-one-out
cross-validation utilities from the `loo`

package (a higher
value is preferred for this metric):

The higher estimated log predictive density (ELPD) value for the dynamic model suggests it provides a better fit to the in-sample data.

Though it should be obvious that this model provides better
forecasts, we can quantify forecast performance for models 3 and 4 using
the `forecast`

and `score`

functions. Here we will
compare models based on their Discrete Ranked Probability Scores (a
lower value is preferred for this metric)

```
fc_mod3 <- forecast(model3)
fc_mod4 <- forecast(model4)
score_mod3 <- score(fc_mod3, score = 'drps')
score_mod4 <- score(fc_mod4, score = 'drps')
sum(score_mod4$PP$score, na.rm = TRUE) - sum(score_mod3$PP$score, na.rm = TRUE)
#> [1] -132.6078
```

A strongly negative value here suggests the score for the dynamic model (model 4) is much smaller than the score for the model with a smooth function of time (model 3)

I’m actively seeking PhD students and other researchers to work in
the areas of ecological forecasting, multivariate model evaluation and
development of `mvgam`

. Please reach out if you are
interested (n.clark’at’uq.edu.au)