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dynamic mixtures and frequentist ABC

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2022 by xi'an

This early morning in NYC, I spotted this new arXival by Marco Bee (whom I know from the time he was writing his PhD with my late friend Bernhard Flury) and found he has been working for a while on ABC related problems. The mixture model he considers therein is a form of mixture of experts, where the weights of the mixture components are not constant but functions on (0,1) of the entry as well. This model was introduced by Frigessi, Haug and Rue in 2002 and is often used as a benchmark for ABC methods, since it is missing its normalising constant as in e.g.

f(x) \propto p(x) f_1(x) + (1-p(x)) f_2(x)

even with all entries being standard pdfs and cdfs. Rather than using a (costly) numerical approximation of the “constant” (as a function of all unknown parameters involved), Marco follows the approximate maximum likelihood approach of my Warwick colleagues, Javier Rubio [now at UCL] and Adam Johansen. It is based on the [SAME] remark that under a uniform prior and using an approximation to the actual likelihood the MAP estimator is also the MLE for that approximation. The approximation is ABC-esque in that a pseudo-sample is generated from the true model (attached to a simulation of the parameter) and the pair is accepted if the pseudo-sample stands close enough to the observed sample. The paper proposes to use the Cramér-von Mises distance, which only involves ranks. Given this “posterior” sample, an approximation of the posterior density is constructed and then numerically optimised. From a frequentist view point, a direct estimate of the mode would be preferable. From my Bayesian perspective, this sounds like a step backwards, given that once a posterior sample is available, reconnecting with an approximate MLE does not sound highly compelling.

QuanTA

Posted in Books, pictures, Running, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , on September 17, 2018 by xi'an

My Warwick colleagues Nick Tawn [who also is my most frequent accomplice to running, climbing and currying in Warwick!] and Gareth Robert have just arXived a paper on QuanTA, a new parallel tempering algorithm that Nick designed during his thesis at Warwick, which he defended last semester. Parallel tempering targets in parallel several powered (or power-tempered) versions of the target distribution. With proposed switches between adjacent targets. An improved version transforms the local values before operating the switches. Ideally, the transform should be the composition of the cdf and inverse cdf, but this is impossible. Linearising the transform is feasible, but does not agree with multimodality, which calls for local transforms. Which themselves call for the identification of the different modes. In QuanTA, they are identified by N parallel runs of the standard, or rather N/2 to avoid dependence issues, and K-means estimates. The paper covers the construction of an optimal scaling of temperatures, in that the difference between the temperatures is scaled [with order 1/√d] so that the acceptance rate for swaps is 0.234. Which in turns induces a practical if costly calibration of the temperatures, especially when the size of the jump is depending on the current temperature. However, this cost issue is addressed in the paper, resorting to the acceptance rate as a proxy for effective sample size and the acceptance rate over run time to run the comparison with regular parallel tempering, leading to strong improvements in the mixture examples examined in the paper. The use of machine learning techniques like K-means or more involved solutions is a promising thread in this exciting area of tempering, where intuition about high temperatures can be actually misleading. Because using the wrong scale means missing the area of interest, which is not the mode!

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