Marginal sequential Monte Carlo for doubly intractable models Machine Learning

Bayesian inference for models that have an intractable partition function is known as a doubly intractable problem, where standard Monte Carlo methods are not applicable. The past decade has seen the development of auxiliary variable Monte Carlo techniques (M{\o}ller et al., 2006; Murray et al., 2006) for tackling this problem; these approaches being members of the more general class of pseudo-marginal, or exact-approximate, Monte Carlo algorithms (Andrieu and Roberts, 2009), which make use of unbiased estimates of intractable posteriors. Everitt et al. (2017) investigated the use of exact-approximate importance sampling (IS) and sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) in doubly intractable problems, but focussed only on SMC algorithms that used data-point tempering. This paper describes SMC samplers that may use alternative sequences of distributions, and describes ways in which likelihood estimates may be improved adaptively as the algorithm progresses, building on ideas from Moores et al. (2015). This approach is compared with a number of alternative algorithms for doubly intractable problems, including approximate Bayesian computation (ABC), which we show is closely related to the method of M{\o}ller et al. (2006).

Bayesian model comparison with un-normalised likelihoods Machine Learning

Models for which the likelihood function can be evaluated only up to a parameter-dependent unknown normalising constant, such as Markov random field models, are used widely in computer science, statistical physics, spatial statistics, and network analysis. However, Bayesian analysis of these models using standard Monte Carlo methods is not possible due to the intractability of their likelihood functions. Several methods that permit exact, or close to exact, simulation from the posterior distribution have recently been developed. However, estimating the evidence and Bayes' factors (BFs) for these models remains challenging in general. This paper describes new random weight importance sampling and sequential Monte Carlo methods for estimating BFs that use simulation to circumvent the evaluation of the intractable likelihood, and compares them to existing methods. In some cases we observe an advantage in the use of biased weight estimates. An initial investigation into the theoretical and empirical properties of this class of methods is presented. Some support for the use of biased estimates is presented, but we advocate caution in the use of such estimates.

Bootstrapped synthetic likelihood Machine Learning

Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) and synthetic likelihood (SL) techniques have enabled the use of Bayesian inference for models that may be simulated, but for which the likelihood cannot be evaluated pointwise at values of an unknown parameter $\theta$. The main idea in ABC and SL is to, for different values of $\theta$ (usually chosen using a Monte Carlo algorithm), build estimates of the likelihood based on simulations from the model conditional on $\theta$. The quality of these estimates determines the efficiency of an ABC/SL algorithm. In standard ABC/SL, the only means to improve an estimated likelihood at $\theta$ is to simulate more times from the model conditional on $\theta$, which is infeasible in cases where the simulator is computationally expensive. In this paper we describe how to use bootstrapping as a means for improving SL estimates whilst using fewer simulations from the model, and also investigate its use in ABC. Further, we investigate the use of the bag of little bootstraps as a means for applying this approach to large datasets, yielding Monte Carlo algorithms that accurately approximate posterior distributions whilst only simulating subsamples of the full data. Examples of the approach applied to i.i.d., temporal and spatial data are given.

Kernel Sequential Monte Carlo Machine Learning

We propose kernel sequential Monte Carlo (KSMC), a framework for sampling from static target densities. KSMC is a family of sequential Monte Carlo algorithms that are based on building emulator models of the current particle system in a reproducing kernel Hilbert space. We here focus on modelling nonlinear covariance structure and gradients of the target. The emulator's geometry is adaptively updated and subsequently used to inform local proposals. Unlike in adaptive Markov chain Monte Carlo, continuous adaptation does not compromise convergence of the sampler. KSMC combines the strengths of sequental Monte Carlo and kernel methods: superior performance for multimodal targets and the ability to estimate model evidence as compared to Markov chain Monte Carlo, and the emulator's ability to represent targets that exhibit high degrees of nonlinearity. As KSMC does not require access to target gradients, it is particularly applicable on targets whose gradients are unknown or prohibitively expensive. We describe necessary tuning details and demonstrate the benefits of the the proposed methodology on a series of challenging synthetic and real-world examples.

Fast Approximate Bayesian Computation for Estimating Parameters in Differential Equations Machine Learning

Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) using a sequential Monte Carlo method provides a comprehensive platform for parameter estimation, model selection and sensitivity analysis in differential equations. However, this method, like other Monte Carlo methods, incurs a significant computational cost as it requires explicit numerical integration of differential equations to carry out inference. In this paper we propose a novel method for circumventing the requirement of explicit integration by using derivatives of Gaussian processes to smooth the observations from which parameters are estimated. We evaluate our methods using synthetic data generated from model biological systems described by ordinary and delay differential equations. Upon comparing the performance of our method to existing ABC techniques, we demonstrate that it produces comparably reliable parameter estimates at a significantly reduced execution time.