Translating probability density functions: From R to BUGS and back again

David S. LeBauer, Michael C. Dietze, Benjamin M. Bolker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to implement statistical models in the BUGS language facilitates Bayesian inference by automating MCMC algorithms. Software packages that interpret the BUGS language include OpenBUGS, WinBUGS, and JAGS. R packages that link BUGS software to the R environment, including rjags and R2WinBUGS, are widely used in Bayesian analysis. Indeed, many packages in the Bayesian task view on CRAN ( depend on this integration. However, the R and BUGS languages use different representations of common probability density functions, creating a potential for errors to occur in the implementation or interpretation of analyses that use both languages. Here we review different parameterizations used by the R and BUGS languages, describe how to translate between the languages, and provide an R function, r2bugs.distributions, that transforms parameterizations from R to BUGS and back again.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-209
Number of pages3
JournalR Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Numerical Analysis
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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