Archive for Bernhard Flury

continuous herded Gibbs sampling

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2021 by xi'an

Read a short paper by Laura Wolf and Marcus Baum on Gibbs herding, where herding is a technique of “deterministic sampling”, for instance selecting points over the support of the distribution by matching exact and empirical (or “empirical”!) moments. Which reminds me of the principal points devised by my late friend Bernhard Flury. With an unclear argument as to why it could take over random sampling:

“random numbers are often generated by pseudo-random number generators, hence are not truly random”

Especially since the aim is to “draw samples from continuous multivariate probability densities.” The sequential construction of such a sample proceeds sequentially by adding a new (T+1)-th point to the existing sample of y’s by maximising in x the discrepancy

(T+1)\mathbb E^Y[k(x,Y)]-\sum_{t=1}^T k(x,y_t)

where k(·,·) is a kernel, e.g. a Gaussian density. Hence a complexity that grows as O(T). The current paper suggests using Gibbs “sampling” to update one component of x at a time. Using the conditional version of the above discrepancy. Making the complexity grow as O(dT) in d dimensions.

I remain puzzled by the whole thing as these samples cannot be used as regular random or quasi-random samples. And in particular do not produce unbiased estimators of anything. Obviously. The production of such samples being furthermore computationally costly it is also unclear to me that they could even be used for quick & dirty approximations of a target sample.

population quasi-Monte Carlo

Posted in Books, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2021 by xi'an

“Population Monte Carlo (PMC) is an important class of Monte Carlo methods, which utilizes a population of proposals to generate weighted samples that approximate the target distribution”

A return of the prodigal son!, with this arXival by Huang, Joseph, and Mak, of a paper on population Monte Carlo using quasi-random sequences. The construct is based on an earlier notion of Joseph and Mak, support points, which are defined wrt a given target distribution F as minimising the variability of a sample from F away from these points. (I would have used instead my late friend Bernhard Flury’s principal points!) The proposal uses Owen-style scrambled Sobol points, followed by a deterministic mixture weighting à la PMC, followed by importance support resampling to find the next location parameters of the proposal mixture (which is why I included an unrelated mixture surface as my post picture!). This importance support resampling is obviously less variable than the more traditional ways of resampling but the cost moves from O(M) to O(M²).

“The main computational complexity of the algorithm is O(M²) from computing the pairwise distance of the M weighted samples”

The covariance parameters are updated as in our 2008 paper. This new proposal is interesting and reasonable, with apparent significant gains, albeit I would have liked to see a clearer discussion of the actual computing costs of PQMC.

no more car talk

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , on November 9, 2014 by xi'an

When I first came went to the US in 1987, I switched from listening to the French public radio to listening to NPR, the National Public Radio network. However, it was not until I met both George Casella and Bernhard Flury that I started listening to “Car Talk”, the Sunday morning talk-show by the Magliozzi brothers where listeners would call and expose their car problem and get jokes and sometime advice in reply. Both George and Bernhard were big fans of the show, much more for the unbelievable high spirits it provided than for any deep interest in mechanics. And indeed there was something of the spirit of Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance in that show, namely that through mechanical issues, people would come to expose deeper worries that the Magliozzi brothers would help bring out, playing the role of garage-shack psychiatrists…Which made me listen to them, despite my complete lack of interest in car, mechanics and repair in general.

One of George’s moments of fame was when he wrote to the Magliozzi brothers about Monty Hall’s problem, because they had botched their explanation as to why one should always change door. And they read it on the air, with the line “Who is this Casella guy from Cornell University? A professor? A janitor?” since George had just signed George Casella, Cornell University. Besides, Bernhard was such a fan of the show that he taped every single morning show, that he would later replay on long car trips (I do not know how his familly enjoyed the exposure to the show, though!). And so happened to have this line about George on tape, that he sent him a few weeks later… I am reminiscing all this because I saw in the NYT today that the older brother, Tom Magliozzi, had just died. Some engines can alas not be fixed… But I am sure there will be a queue of former car addicts in some heavenly place eager to ask him their question about their favourite car. Thanks for the ride, Tom!

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