Archive for Approximate Bayesian computation

Recent Advances in Approximate Bayesian Inference [YSE, 15.2.22]

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , on May 11, 2022 by xi'an

On June 15, the Young Statisticians Europe initiative is organising an on-line seminar on approximate Bayesian inference. With talks by

starting at 7:00 PT / 10:00 EST / 16:00 CET. The registration form is available here.

Concentration and robustness of discrepancy-based ABC [One World ABC ‘minar, 28 April]

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2022 by xi'an

Our next speaker at the One World ABC Seminar will be Pierre Alquier, who will talk about “Concentration and robustness of discrepancy-based ABC“, on Thursday April 28, at 9.30am UK time, with an abstract reported below.
Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) typically employs summary statistics to measure the discrepancy among the observed data and the synthetic data generated from each proposed value of the parameter of interest. However, finding good summary statistics (that are close to sufficiency) is non-trivial for most of the models for which ABC is needed. In this paper, we investigate the properties of ABC based on integral probability semi-metrics, including MMD and Wasserstein distances. We exhibit conditions ensuring the contraction of the approximate posterior. Moreover, we prove that MMD with an adequate kernel leads to very strong robustness properties.

likelihood-free nested sampling

Posted in Books, Statistics with tags , , , , , , on April 11, 2022 by xi'an

Last week, I came by chance across a paper by Jan Mikelson and Mustafa Khammash on a likelihood-free version of nested sampling (a popular keyword on the ‘Og!). Published in 2020 in PLoS Comput Biol. The setup is a parameterised and hidden state-space model, which allows for an approximation of the (observed) likelihood function L(θ|y) by means of a particle filter. An immediate issue with this proposal is that a novel  filter need be produced for a new value of the parameter θ, which makes it enormously expensive. It then gets more bizarre as the [Monte Carlo] distribution of the particle filter approximation ô(θ|y) is agglomerated with the original prior π(θ) as a joint “prior” [despite depending on the observed y] and a nested sampling is conducted with level sets of the form


Actually, if the Monte Carlo error was null, that is, if the number of particles was infinite,


implies that this is indeed the original nested sampler. Simulation from the restricted region is done by constructing an extra density estimator of the constrained distribution (in θ)…

“We have shown how using a Monte Carlo estimate over the livepoints not only results in an unbiased estimator of the Bayesian evidence Z, but also allows us to derive a formulation for a lower bound on the achievable variance in each iteration (…)”

As shown by the above the authors insist on the unbiasedness of the particle approximation, but since nested sampling is not producing an unbiased estimator of the evidence Z, the point is somewhat moot. (I am also rather surprised by the reported lack of computing time benefit in running ABC-SMC.)

One World ABC seminar [31.3.22]

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2022 by xi'an

The next One World ABC seminar is on Thursday 31 March, with David Warnes (from QUT) talking on Multifidelity multilevel Monte Carlo for approximate Bayesian computation It will take place at 10:30 CET (GMT+1).

Models of stochastic processes are widely used in almost all fields of science. However, data are almost always incomplete observations of reality. This leads to a great challenge for statistical inference because the likelihood function will be intractable for almost all partially observed stochastic processes. As a result, it is common to apply likelihood-free approaches that replace likelihood evaluations with realisations of the model and observation process. However, likelihood-free techniques are computationally expensive for accurate inference as they may require millions of high-fidelity, expensive stochastic simulations. To address this challenge, we develop a novel approach that combines the multilevel Monte Carlo telescoping summation, applied to a sequence of approximate Bayesian posterior targets, with a multifidelity rejection sampler that learns from low-fidelity, computationally inexpensive,
model approximations to minimise the number of high-fidelity, computationally expensive, simulations required for accurate inference. Using examples from systems biology, we demonstrate improvements of more than two orders of magnitude over standard rejection sampling techniques

One World ABC seminar [24.2.22]

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2022 by xi'an

The next One World ABC seminar is on Thursday 24 Feb, with Rafael Izbicki talking on Likelihood-Free Frequentist Inference – Constructing Confidence Sets with Correct Conditional Coverage. It will take place at 14:30 CET (GMT+1).

Many areas of science make extensive use of computer simulators that implicitly encode likelihood functions of complex systems. Classical statistical methods are poorly suited for these so-called likelihood-free inference (LFI) settings, outside the asymptotic and low-dimensional regimes. Although new machine learning methods, such as normalizing flows, have revolutionized the sample efficiency and capacity of LFI methods, it remains an open question whether they produce reliable measures of uncertainty. We present a statistical framework for LFI that unifies classical statistics with modern machine learning to: (1) efficiently construct frequentist confidence sets and hypothesis tests with finite-sample guarantees of nominal coverage (type I error control) and power; (2) provide practical diagnostics
for assessing empirical coverage over the entire parameter space. We refer to our framework as likelihood-free frequentist inference (LF2I). Any method that estimates a test statistic, like the likelihood ratio, can be plugged into our framework to create valid confidence sets and compute diagnostics, without costly Monte Carlo samples at fixed parameter settings. In this work, we specifically study the power of two test statistics (ACORE and BFF), which, respectively, maximize versus integrate an odds function over the parameter space. Our study offers multifaceted perspectives on the challenges in LF2I. This is joint work with Niccolo Dalmasso, David Zhao and Ann B. Lee.

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