Archive for the Travel Category

forward event-chain Monte Carlo

Posted in Statistics, Travel, University life with tags on July 24, 2017 by xi'an

One of the authors of this paper contacted me to point out their results arXived last February [and revised last month] as being related to our bouncy particle paper arXived two weeks ago. And to an earlier paper by Michel et al. (2014) published in the Journal of Chemical Physics. (The authors actually happen to work quite nearby, on a suburban road I take every time I bike to Dauphine!) I think one reason we missed this paper in our literature survey is the use of a vocabulary taken from Physics rather than our Monte Carlo community, as in, e.g., using “event chain” instead of “bouncy particle”… The paper indeed contains schemes similar to ours, as did the on-going work by Chris Sherlock and co-authors Chris presented last week at the Isaac Newton Institute workshop on scalability. (Although I had troubles reading its physics style, in particular the justification for stationarity or “global balance” and the use of “infinitesimals”.)

“…we would like to find the optimal set of directions {e} necessary for the ergodicity and  allowing for an efficient exploration of the target distribution.”

The improvement sought is about improving the choice of the chain direction at each direction change. In order to avoid the random walk behaviour. The proposal is to favour directions close to the gradient of the log-likelihood, keeping the orthogonal to this gradient constant in direction (as in our paper) if not in scale. (As indicated above I have trouble understanding the ergodicity proof, if not the irreducibility. I also do not see how solving (11), which should be (12), is feasible in general. And why (29) amounts to simulating from (27)…)

Takaisin helsinkiin

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2017 by xi'an

I am off tomorrow morning to Helsinki for the European Meeting of Statisticians (EMS 2017). Where I will talk on how to handle multiple estimators in Monte Carlo settings (although I have not made enough progress in this direction to include anything truly novel in the talk!) Here are the slides:

I look forward this meeting, as I remember quite fondly the previous one I attended in Budapest. Which was of the highest quality in terms of talks and interactions. (I also remember working hard with Randal Douc on a yet-unfinished project!)

Midsummer dinner at Emmanuel College

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2017 by xi'an

It just so happened that I was in Cambridge for the Midsummer dinner last Saturday at Emmanuel College and that a good friend, who happens to be a Fellow of that College, invited me to the dinner. Making the second dinner in a Cambridge college in a week, after the workshop dinner at Trinity. Except the one at Emmanuel was a much more formal affair, with dress requirement (!) and elaborate dishes. The wines were also exceptional, with a remarkable 2002 Chassagne-Montrachet.While the dinning room (or whatever it is called) is beautiful, it is also rather noisy and I could not engage in conversation with anyone but my immediate neighbours, but still managed to have a fairly interesting exchange with a biologist studying skuas on the Faroe Islands. The end of the meal was announced by a loud clap and Graces in Latin, followed by cheese and port (and a fabulous Sauternes!, not in the wine list) in an equally beautiful room, where it was easier to talk with my neighbours. All in all, a unique evening and opportunity for a glimpse into College traditions! [And a first wine post for the 20th of the month!!]

ABC at sea and at war

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2017 by xi'an

While preparing crêpes at home yesterday night, I browsed through the  most recent issue of Significance and among many goodies, I spotted an article by McKay and co-authors discussing the simulation of a British vs. German naval battle from the First World War I had never heard of, the Battle of the Dogger Bank. The article was illustrated by a few historical pictures, but I quickly came across a more statistical description of the problem, which was not about creating wargames and alternate realities but rather inferring about the likelihood of the actual income, i.e., whether or not the naval battle outcome [which could be seen as a British victory, ending up with 0 to 1 sunk boat] was either a lucky strike or to be expected. And the method behind solving this question was indeed both Bayesian and ABC-esque! I did not read the longer paper by McKay et al. (hard to do while flipping crêpes!) but the description in Significance was clear enough to understand that the six summary statistics used in this ABC implementation were the number of shots, hits, and lost turrets for both sides. (The answer to the original question is that indeed the British fleet was lucky to keep all its boats afloat. But it is also unlikely another score would have changed the outcome of WWI.) [As I found in this other history paper, ABC seems quite popular in historical inference! And there is another completely unrelated arXived paper with main title The Fog of War…]

Daft Punk for Bastille Day [warning: some images may be distrumping!]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2017 by xi'an

RNG impact on MCMC [or lack thereof]

Posted in Books, R, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on July 13, 2017 by xi'an

Following the talk at MCM 2017 about the strange impact of the random generator on the outcome of an MCMC generator, I tried in Montréal airport the following code on the banana target of Haario et al. (1999), copied from Soetaert and Laine and using the MCMC function of the FME package:

Banana <- function (x1, x2) {
 return(x2 - (x1^2+1)) }
pmultinorm <- function(vec, mean, Cov) {
 diff <- vec - mean
 ex <- -0.5*t(diff) %*% solve(Cov) %*% diff
 rdet <- sqrt(det(Cov))
 power <- -length(diff)*0.5
 return((2.*pi)^power / rdet * exp(ex)) }
BananaSS <- function (p) {
 P <- c(p[1], Banana(p[1], p[2]))
 Cov <- matrix(nr = 2, data = c(1, 0.9, 0.9, 1))
for (t in 1:N){
  MCMC <- modMCMC(f = BananaSS, p = c(0, 0.7), 
  jump = diag(nrow = 2, x = 5), niter = 1e3)

since this divergence from the initial condition seemed to reflect the experiment of the speaker at MCM 2017. Unsurprisingly, no difference came from using the different RNGs in R (which may fail to contain those incriminated by the study)…

after-dinner at Trinity [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , on July 8, 2017 by xi'an