Scores for Multivariate Distributions and Level Sets

Xiaochun Meng, James W. Taylor, Souhaib Ben Taieb, Siran Li
(2023) Operations Research (To appear)


Forecasts of multivariate probability distributions are required for a variety of applications. Scoring rules enable the evaluation of forecast accuracy, and comparison between forecasting methods. We propose a theoretical framework for scoring rules for multivariate distributions, which encompasses the existing quadratic score and multivariate continuous ranked probability score. We demonstrate how this framework can be used to generate new scoring rules. In some multivariate contexts, it is a forecast of a level set that is needed, such as a density level set for anomaly detection or the level set of the cumulative distribution as a measure of risk. This motivates consideration of scoring functions for such level sets. For univariate distributions, it is well-established that the continuous ranked probability score can be expressed as the integral over a quantile score. We show that, in a similar way, scoring rules for multivariate distributions can be decomposed to obtain scoring functions for level sets. Using this, we present scoring functions for different types of level set, including density level sets and level sets for cumulative distributions. To compute the scores, we propose a simple numerical algorithm. We perform a simulation study to support our proposals, and we use real data to illustrate usefulness for forecast combining and CoVaR estimation.