ABC in Lapland

Greetings from Levi, Lapland! Sonia Petrone beautifully started the ABC workshop with a (the!) plenary Sunday night talk on quasi-Bayes in the spirit of both Fortini & Petrone (2020) and the more recent Fong, Holmes, and Walker (2023). The talk got me puzzled by wondering the nature of convergence, in that it happens no matter what the underlying distribution (or lack thereof) of the data is, in that, even without any exchangeability structure, the predictive is converging. The quasi stems from a connection with the historical Smith and Markov (1978) sequential update approximation for the posterior attached with mixtures of distributions. Which itself relates to both Dirichlet posterior updates and Bayesian bootstrap à la Newton & Raftery. Appropriate link when the convergence seems to stem from the sequence of predictives instead of the underlying distribution, if any, pulling Bayes by its own bootstrap…! Chris Holmes also talked the next day about this approach, esp. about a Bayesian approach to causality that does not require counterfactuals, in connection with a recent arXival of his (on my reading list).

Carlo Alberto presented both his 2014 SABC (simulated annealing) algorithm with a neat idea of reducing waste in the tempering schedule and a recent summary selection approach based on an auto-encoder function of both y and noise to reduce to sufficient statistic. A similar idea was found in Yannik Schälte’s talk (slide above). Who was returning to Richard Wiilkinson’s exact ABC¹³ with adaptive sequential generator, also linking to simulated annealing and ABC-SMC¹² to the rescue. Notion of amortized inference. Seemingly approximating data y with NN and then learn parameter by a normalising flow.

David Frazier talked on Q-posterior²³ approach, based on Fisher’s identity, for approximating score function, which first seemed to require some exponential family structure on a completed model (but does not, after discussing with David!), Jack Jewson on beta divergence priors²³ for uncertainty on likelihoods, better than KLD divergence on e-contamination situations, any impact on ABC? Masahiro Fujisawa back to outliers impact on ABC, again with e-contaminations (with me wondering at the impact of outliers on NN estimation).

In the afternoon session (due to two last minute cancellations, we skipped (or [MCMC] skied) one afternoon session, which coincided with a bright and crispy day, how convenient! ), Massi Tamborino (U of Warwick) FitzHugh-Nagumo process, with impossibilities to solve the inference problem differently, for instance Euler-Maruyama does not always work, numerical schemes are inducing a bias. Back to ABC with the hunt for a summary that get rid of the noise, as in Carlo Alberto’s work. Yuexi Wang talked about her works on adversarial ABC inspired from GANs. Another instance where noise is used as input. True data not used in training? Imke Botha discussed an improvement to ensemble Kalman inversion which, while biased, gains over both regular SMC timewise and ensemble Kalman inversion in precision, and Chaya Weerasinghe focussed on Bayesian forecasting in state space models under model misspecification, via approximate Bayesian computation, using an auxiliary model to produce summary statistics as in indirect inference.

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