Flexible Bayesian Dynamic Modeling of Covariance and Correlation Matrices

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Modeling covariance (and correlation) matrices is a challenging problem due to the large dimensionality and positive-definiteness constraint. In this paper, we propose a novel Bayesian framework based on decomposing the covariance matrix into variance and correlation matrices. The highlight is that the correlations are represented as products of vectors on unit spheres. We propose a variety of distributions on spheres (e.g. the squared-Dirichlet distribution) to induce flexible prior distributions for covariance matrices that go beyond the commonly used inverse-Wishart prior. To handle the intractability of the resulting posterior, we introduce the adaptive $\Delta$-Spherical Hamiltonian Monte Carlo. We also extend our structured framework to dynamic cases and introduce unit-vector Gaussian process priors for modeling the evolution of correlation among multiple time series. Using an example of Normal-Inverse-Wishart problem, a simulated periodic process, and an analysis of local field potential data (collected from the hippocampus of rats performing a complex sequence memory task), we demonstrated the validity and effectiveness of our proposed framework for (dynamic) modeling covariance and correlation matrices.