Archive for One World ABC Seminar

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.

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

posterior collapse

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on February 24, 2022 by xi'an

The latest ABC One World webinar was a talk by Yixin Wang about the posterior collapse of auto-encoders, of which I was completely unaware. It is essentially an identifiability issue with auto-encoders, where the latent variable z at the source of the VAE does not impact the likelihood, assumed to be an exponential family with parameter depending on z and on θ, through possibly a neural network construct. The variational part comes from the parameter being estimated as θ⁰, via a variational approximation.

“….the problem of posterior collapse mainly arises from the model and the data, rather than from inference or optimization…”

The collapse means that the posterior for the latent satisfies p(z|θ⁰,x)=p(z), which is not a standard property since θ⁰=θ⁰(x). Which Yixin Wang, David Blei and John Cunningham show is equivalent to p(x|θ⁰,z)=p(x|θ⁰), i.e. z being unidentifiable. The above quote is then both correct and incorrect in that the choice of the inference approach, i.e. of the estimator θ⁰=θ⁰(x) has an impact on whether or not p(z|θ⁰,x)=p(z) holds. As acknowledged by the authors when describing “methods modify the optimization objectives or algorithms of VAE to avoid parameter values θ at which the latent variable is non-identifiable“. They later build a resolution for identifiable VAEs by imposing that the conditional p(x|θ,z) is injective in z for all values of θ. Resulting in a neural network with Brenier maps.

From a Bayesian perspective, I have difficulties to connect to the issue, the folk lore being that selecting a proper prior is a sufficient fix for avoiding non-identifiability, but more fundamentally I wonder at the relevance of inferring about the latent z’s and hence worrying about their identifiability or lack thereof.

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.

One World ABC seminar [3.2.22]

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2022 by xi'an

The next One World ABC seminar is on Thursday 03 Feb, with Yixing Want talking on Posterior collapse and latent variable non-identifiability It will take place at 15:30 CET (GMT+1).

Variational autoencoders model high-dimensional data by positing low-dimensional latent variables that are mapped through a flexible distribution parametrized by a neural network. Unfortunately, variational autoencoders often suffer from posterior collapse: the posterior of the latent variables is equal to its prior, rendering the variational autoencoder useless as a means to produce meaningful  epresentations. Existing approaches to posterior collapse often attribute it to the use of neural networks or optimization issues due to variational approximation. In this paper, we consider posterior collapse as a problem of latent variable non-identifiability. We prove that the posterior collapses if and only if the latent variables are non-identifiable in the generative model. This fact implies that posterior collapse is
not a phenomenon specific to the use of flexible distributions or approximate inference. Rather, it can occur in classical probabilistic models even with exact inference, which we also demonstrate. Based on these results, we propose a class of latent-identifiable variational autoencoders, deep generative models which enforce identifiability without sacrificing flexibility. This model class resolves the problem of latent variable non-identifiability by leveraging bijective Brenier maps and parameterizing them with input convex neural networks, without special variational inference objectives or optimization tricks. Across synthetic and real datasets, latent-identifiable variational  autoencoders outperform existing methods in mitigating posterior collapse and providing meaningful representations of the data.

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