prior probability

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Related to Prior probabilities: Posterior probabilities, Uninformative prior

pri·or prob·a·bil·i·ty

the best rational assessment of the probability of an outcome on the basis of established knowledge before the present experiment is performed. For instance, the prior probability of the daughter of a carrier of hemophilia being herself a carrier of hemophilia is 1/2. But if the daughter already has an affected son, the posterior probability that she is a carrier is unity, whereas if she has a normal child, the posterior probability that she is a carrier is 1/3. See: Bayes theorem.


(1) The number of people with a specific condition or attribute at a specified time divided by the total number of people in the population.
(2) The number or proportion of cases, events or conditions in a given population.
A term defined in the context of a 4-cell diagnostic matrix (2 X 2 table) as the amount of people with a disease, X, relative to a population.

Veterinary medicine
(1) A clinical estimate of the probability that an animal has a given disease, based on current knowledge (e.g., by history of physical exam) before diagnostic testing.
(2) As defined in a population, the probability at a specific point in time that an animal randomly selected from a group will have a particular condition, which is equivalent to the proportion of individuals in the group that have the disease. Group prevalence is calculated by dividing the number of individuals in a group that have a disease by the total number of individuals in the group at risk of the disease. Prevalence is a good measure of the amount of a chronic, low-mortality disease in a population, but is not of the amount of short duration or high-fatality disease. Prevalence is often established by cross-sectional surveys.

prior probability

Decision making The likelihood that something may occur or be associated with an event based on its prevalence in a particular situation. See Medical mistake, Representative heurisic.

prior probability,

n the extent of belief held by a patient and practitioner in the ability of a specific therapeutic approach to produce a positive outcome before treatment begins. This level of belief should be taken into consideration by the patient and practitioner to make a decision as to whether the treatment should be used or to permit the therapy to continue.


the basis of statistics. The relative frequency of occurrence of a specific event as the outcome of an experiment when the experiment is conducted randomly on very many occasions. The probability of the event occurring is the number of times it did occur divided by the number of times that it could have occurred. Defined as:$$\hbox{p}={\hbox{x}\over (\hbox{x+y})$$

p = probability, x = positive outcomes, y = negative outcomes.
prior probability
estimation of the probability that a particular phenomenon or character will appear before putting the patient to the test, e.g. testing the probable productivity of a patient by testing its forebears.
subjective probability
the measure of the assessor's belief in the probability of a proposition being correct.
References in periodicals archive ?
In civil trials, the prior probabilities as a normative matter
Discrimination resulting from personal stereotypes is very different from statistical discrimination resulting from the application of prior probabilities (Balsa, McGuire, and Meredith 2005; McGuire et al.
After providing the prior probabilities and the conditional probability tables, the results of the run session (probability update) for new-presented data for any selected node of HUGIN are also shown in Figures 6 and 7.
Resubstitution risk criterion is different from the misclassification cost criterion in considering the prior probabilities of being a troubled insurer, and hence may be considered as the expected misclassification cost.
Decision makers are then assumed to follow an updating process to convert prior probabilities into posterior probabilities and reassess the actions.
Our approach to the choice of prior probabilities differs from the recommendations of Hoppa and Vaupel (2002: 6).
The ROC convex hull can be used to determine the combinations of costs and prior probabilities of intrusion for which one IDS is preferred over another.
Although the last term of" this expression requires a statement of prior probabilities on the model space, it does not require assigning prior probabilities to the unobservables contained in [theta].
But what education, training, and informatics technologies are their organizations investing in to refine risk adjustment for patients of physicians in the same specialty where the prior probabilities of the outcomes - mortality, cost, wound infection rates, functional status, and satisfaction - vary by patient, albeit more subtly?
Kahneman and Tversky concluded that, when people are given no information, they correctly use prior probabilities, but when they are given worthless data, they completely ignore the prior probabilities when they guessed.
Furthermore, since a primary objective is to use the mixture model to create one-step-ahead forecasts of the T-bill response to discount rate changes, we pay special attention to the prior probabilities of Process 1 relative to Process 2.