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We present a new method for classification using a Bayesian version of the Multivariate Adaptive Regression Spline (MARS) model of J.H. Friedman (Annals of Statistics, 19, 1-141, 1991). Special attention is paid to the use of Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) simulation to gain inference under the model. In particular we discuss three important developments in MCMC methodology. First, we describe the reversible jump MCMC algorithm of P.J. Green (Biometrika, 82, 711-732, 1995) which allows inference on a varying dimensional, possibly uncountable, model space. This allows us to consider MARS models of differing numbers and positions of splines. Secondly, we discuss marginalisation which is used to reduce the effective dimension of the parameter space under consideration. Thirdly, we describe the use of latent variables to improve the MCMC computation. Our methods are generic and can be applied to any basis function model including, wavelets, artificial neural nets and radial basis functions. We present examples to show that the Bayesian MARS classifier is competitive with other approaches on a number of benchmark data sets.

Original publication




Journal article


Machine Learning

Publication Date





159 - 173