Inverse-gamma distribution

Probability density function

Cumulative distribution function

Parameters shape (real)
rate (real)
Mean for
Variance for
Skewness for
Ex. kurtosis for

(see digamma function)
MGF Does not exist.

In probability theory and statistics, the inverse gamma distribution is a two-parameter family of continuous probability distributions on the positive real line, which is the distribution of the reciprocal of a variable distributed according to the gamma distribution. Perhaps the chief use of the inverse gamma distribution is in Bayesian statistics, where the distribution arises as the marginal posterior distribution for the unknown variance of a normal distribution if an uninformative prior is used; and as an analytically tractable conjugate prior if an informative prior is required.

However, it is common among Bayesians to consider an alternative parametrization of the normal distribution in terms of the precision, defined as the reciprocal of the variance, which allows the gamma distribution to be used directly as a conjugate prior. Other Bayesians prefer to parametrize the inverse gamma distribution differently, as a scaled inverse chi-squared distribution.


Probability density function

The inverse gamma distribution's probability density function is defined over the support

with shape parameter and scale parameter .[1] Here denotes the gamma function.

Unlike the Gamma distribution, which contains a somewhat similar exponential term, is a scale parameter as the distribution function satisfies:

Cumulative distribution function

The cumulative distribution function is the regularized gamma function

where the numerator is the upper incomplete gamma function and the denominator is the gamma function. Many math packages allow you to compute Q, the regularized gamma function, directly.

Characteristic function

in the expression of the characteristic function is the modified Bessel function of the 2nd kind.


For and ,


where is the digamma function.

Differential equation:

Related distributions

Derivation from Gamma distribution

The pdf of the gamma distribution is

and define the transformation then the resulting transformation is

Replacing with ; with ; and with results in the inverse-gamma pdf shown above

See also


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