Parsimony inducing priors for large scale state–space models

Hedibert F. Lopes, Robert E. McCulloch, Ruey S. Tsay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


State–space models are commonly used in the engineering, economic, and statistical literature. They are flexible and encompass many well-known statistical models, including random coefficient autoregressive models and dynamic factor models. Bayesian analysis of state–space models has attracted much interest in recent years. However, for large scale models, prior specification becomes a challenging issue in Bayesian inference. In this paper, we propose a flexible prior for state–space models. The proposed prior is a mixture of four commonly entertained models, yet achieving parsimony in high-dimensional systems. Here “parsimony” is represented by the idea that, in a large system, some states may not be time-varying. Our prior for the state–space component's standard deviation is capable to accommodate different scenarios. Simulation and simple examples are used throughout this paper to demonstrate the performance of the proposed prior. As an application, we consider the time-varying conditional covariance matrices of daily log returns of the components of the S&P 100 index, leading to a state–space model with roughly five thousand time-varying states. Our model for this large system enables us to use parallel computing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-61
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Econometrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Bayesian modeling
  • Conditional heteroscedasticity
  • Forward filtering and backward sampling
  • Parallel computing
  • Shrinkage
  • Sparsity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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