Chen, Tianqi, Fox, Emily B., Guestrin, Carlos

Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (HMC) sampling methods provide a mechanism for defining distant proposals with high acceptance probabilities in a Metropolis-Hastings framework, enabling more efficient exploration of the state space than standard random-walk proposals. The popularity of such methods has grown significantly in recent years. However, a limitation of HMC methods is the required gradient computation for simulation of the Hamiltonian dynamical system-such computation is infeasible in problems involving a large sample size or streaming data. Instead, we must rely on a noisy gradient estimate computed from a subset of the data. In this paper, we explore the properties of such a stochastic gradient HMC approach. Surprisingly, the natural implementation of the stochastic approximation can be arbitrarily bad. To address this problem we introduce a variant that uses second-order Langevin dynamics with a friction term that counteracts the effects of the noisy gradient, maintaining the desired target distribution as the invariant distribution. Results on simulated data validate our theory. We also provide an application of our methods to a classification task using neural networks and to online Bayesian matrix factorization.

Ruiz, Francisco R., AUEB, Michalis Titsias RC, Blei, David

The reparameterization gradient has become a widely used method to obtain Monte Carlo gradients to optimize the variational objective. However, this technique does not easily apply to commonly used distributions such as beta or gamma without further approximations, and most practical applications of the reparameterization gradient fit Gaussian distributions. In this paper, we introduce the generalized reparameterization gradient, a method that extends the reparameterization gradient to a wider class of variational distributions. Generalized reparameterizations use invertible transformations of the latent variables which lead to transformed distributions that weakly depend on the variational parameters. This results in new Monte Carlo gradients that combine reparameterization gradients and score function gradients.

Mangoubi, Oren, Vishnoi, Nisheeth

Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (HMC) is a widely deployed method to sample from high-dimensional distributions in Statistics and Machine learning. HMC is known to run very efficiently in practice and its popular second-order leapfrog" implementation has long been conjectured to run in $d {1/4}$ gradient evaluations. Here we show that this conjecture is true when sampling from strongly log-concave target distributions that satisfy a weak third-order regularity property associated with the input data. Our regularity condition is weaker than the Lipschitz Hessian property and allows us to show faster convergence bounds for a much larger class of distributions than would be possible with the usual Lipschitz Hessian constant alone. Important distributions that satisfy our regularity condition include posterior distributions used in Bayesian logistic regression for which the data satisfies an incoherence" property.

Giles, Mike, Nagapetyan, Tigran, Szpruch, Lukasz, Vollmer, Sebastian, Zygalakis, Konstantinos

Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms are ubiquitous in Bayesian computations. However, they need to access the full data set in order to evaluate the posterior density at every step of the algorithm. This results in a great computational burden in big data applications. In contrast to MCMC methods, Stochastic Gradient MCMC (SGMCMC) algorithms such as the Stochastic Gradient Langevin Dynamics (SGLD) only require access to a batch of the data set at every step. This drastically improves the computational performance and scales well to large data sets. However, the difficulty with SGMCMC algorithms comes from the sensitivity to its parameters which are notoriously difficult to tune. Moreover, the Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) scales as $\mathcal{O}(c^{-\frac{1}{3}})$ as opposed to standard MCMC $\mathcal{O}(c^{-\frac{1}{2}})$ where $c$ is the computational cost. We introduce a new class of Multilevel Stochastic Gradient Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms that are able to mitigate the problem of tuning the step size and more importantly of recovering the $\mathcal{O}(c^{-\frac{1}{2}})$ convergence of standard Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods without the need to introduce Metropolis-Hasting steps. A further advantage of this new class of algorithms is that it can easily be parallelised over a heterogeneous computer architecture. We illustrate our methodology using Bayesian logistic regression and provide numerical evidence that for a prescribed relative RMSE the computational cost is sublinear in the number of data items.

Zhang, Yizhe, Wang, Xiangyu, Chen, Changyou, Henao, Ricardo, Fan, Kai, Carin, Lawrence

We unify slice sampling and Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (HMC) sampling, demonstrating their connection via the Hamiltonian-Jacobi equation from Hamiltonian mechanics. This insight enables extension of HMC and slice sampling to a broader family of samplers, called Monomial Gamma Samplers (MGS). We provide a theoretical analysis of the mixing performance of such samplers, proving that in the limit of a single parameter, the MGS draws decorrelated samples from the desired target distribution. We further show that as this parameter tends toward this limit, performance gains are achieved at a cost of increasing numerical difficulty and some practical convergence issues. Our theoretical results are validated with synthetic data and real-world applications.