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Maximum-Likelihood Estimation of Coalescence Times in Genealogical Trees

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Publisher
Copyright © 2005 by the Genetics Society of America
Publication Date
Source
PMC
Keywords
  • Investigations
Disciplines
  • Computer Science
  • Logic
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine

Abstract

We develop a method for maximum-likelihood estimation of coalescence times in genealogical trees, based on population genetics data. For this purpose, a Viterbi-type algorithm is constructed to maximize the joint likelihood of the coalescence times. Marginal confidence intervals for the coalescence times based on the profile likelihoods are also computed. Our method of finding MLEs and calculating C.I.'s appears to be more accurate than alternative numerical maximization methods, and maximum-likelihood inference appears to be more accurate than other existing model-free approaches to estimating coalescent times. We demonstrate the method on two different data sets: human Y chromosome DNA data and fungus DNA data.

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