The Multivariate t Distribution

These functions provide information about the multivariate \(t\) distribution with non-centrality parameter (or mode) delta, scale matrix sigma and degrees of freedom df. dmvt gives the density and rmvt generates random deviates.

multivariate, distribution
rmvt(n, sigma = diag(2), df = 1, delta = rep(0, nrow(sigma)),
     type = c("shifted", "Kshirsagar"), ...)
dmvt(x, delta = rep(0, p), sigma = diag(p), df = 1, log = TRUE,
     type = "shifted")

vector or matrix of quantiles. If x is a matrix, each row is taken to be a quantile.


number of observations.


the vector of noncentrality parameters of length n, for type = "shifted" delta specifies the mode.


scale matrix, defaults to diag(ncol(x)).


degrees of freedom. df = 0 or df = Inf corresponds to the multivariate normal distribution.


logical indicating whether densities \(d\) are given as \(\log(d)\).


type of the noncentral multivariate \(t\) distribution. type = "Kshirsagar" corresponds to formula (1.4) in Genz and Bretz (2009) (see also Chapter 5.1 in Kotz and Nadarajah (2004)). This is the noncentral t-distribution needed for calculating the power of multiple contrast tests under a normality assumption. type = "shifted" corresponds to the formula right before formula (1.4) in Genz and Bretz (2009) (see also formula (1.1) in Kotz and Nadarajah (2004)). It is a location shifted version of the central t-distribution. This noncentral multivariate \(t\) distribution appears for example as the Bayesian posterior distribution for the regression coefficients in a linear regression. In the central case both types coincide. Note that the defaults differ from the default in pmvt() (for reasons of backward compatibility).

additional arguments to rmvnorm(), for example method.


If \(\bm{X}\) denotes a random vector following a \(t\) distribution with location vector \(\bm{0}\) and scale matrix \(\Sigma\) (written \(X\sim t_\nu(\bm{0},\Sigma)\)), the scale matrix (the argument sigma) is not equal to the covariance matrix \(Cov(\bm{X})\) of \(\bm{X}\). If the degrees of freedom \(\nu\) (the argument df) is larger than 2, then \(Cov(\bm{X})=\Sigma\nu/(\nu-2)\). Furthermore, in this case the correlation matrix \(Cor(\bm{X})\) equals the correlation matrix corresponding to the scale matrix \(\Sigma\) (which can be computed with cov2cor()). Note that the scale matrix is sometimes referred to as “dispersion matrix”; see McNeil, Frey, Embrechts (2005, p. 74).

For type = "shifted" the density $$c(1+(x-\delta)'S^{-1}(x-\delta)/\nu)^{-(\nu+m)/2}$$ is implemented, where $$c = \Gamma((\nu+m)/2)/((\pi \nu)^{m/2}\Gamma(\nu/2)|S|^{1/2}),$$ \(S\) is a positive definite symmetric matrix (the matrix sigma above), \(\delta\) is the non-centrality vector and \(\nu\) are the degrees of freedom.

df=0 historically leads to the multivariate normal distribution. From a mathematical point of view, rather df=Inf corresponds to the multivariate normal distribution. This is (now) also allowed for rmvt() and dmvt().

Note that dmvt() has default log = TRUE, whereas dmvnorm() has default log = FALSE.


McNeil, A. J., Frey, R., and Embrechts, P. (2005). Quantitative Risk Management: Concepts, Techniques, Tools. Princeton University Press.

See Also

pmvt() and qmvt()

  • dmvt
  • rmvt
## basic evaluation
dmvt(x = c(0,0), sigma = diag(2))

## check behavior for df=0 and df=Inf
x <- c(1.23, 4.56)
mu <- 1:2
Sigma <- diag(2)
x0 <- dmvt(x, delta = mu, sigma = Sigma, df = 0) # default log = TRUE!
x8 <- dmvt(x, delta = mu, sigma = Sigma, df = Inf) # default log = TRUE!
xn <- dmvnorm(x, mean = mu, sigma = Sigma, log = TRUE)
stopifnot(identical(x0, x8), identical(x0, xn))

## X ~ t_3(0, diag(2))
x <- rmvt(100, sigma = diag(2), df = 3) # t_3(0, diag(2)) sample

## X ~ t_3(mu, Sigma)
n <- 1000
mu <- 1:2
Sigma <- matrix(c(4, 2, 2, 3), ncol=2)
x <- rep(mu, each=n) + rmvt(n, sigma=Sigma, df=3)

## Note that the call rmvt(n, mean=mu, sigma=Sigma, df=3) does *not*
## give a valid sample from t_3(mu, Sigma)! [and thus throws an error]
try(rmvt(n, mean=mu, sigma=Sigma, df=3))

## df=Inf correctly samples from a multivariate normal distribution
x <- rep(mu, each=n) + rmvt(n, sigma=Sigma, df=Inf)
x. <- rmvnorm(n, mean=mu, sigma=Sigma)
stopifnot(identical(x, x.))
# }
Documentation reproduced from package mvtnorm, version 1.0-11, License: GPL-2

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