Archive for reproducing kernel Hilbert space

Quasi-Monte Carlo sampling

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2014 by xi'an

RSS wine“The QMC algorithm forces us to write any simulation as an explicit function of uniform samples.” (p.8)

As posted a few days ago, Mathieu Gerber and Nicolas Chopin will read this afternoon a Paper to the Royal Statistical Society on their sequential quasi-Monte Carlo sampling paper.  Here are some comments on the paper that are preliminaries to my written discussion (to be sent before the slightly awkward deadline of Jan 2, 2015).

Quasi-Monte Carlo methods are definitely not popular within the (mainstream) statistical community, despite regular attempts by respected researchers like Art Owen and Pierre L’Écuyer to induce more use of those methods. It is thus to be hoped that the current attempt will be more successful, it being Read to the Royal Statistical Society being a major step towards a wide diffusion. I am looking forward to the collection of discussions that will result from the incoming afternoon (and bemoan once again having to miss it!).

“It is also the resampling step that makes the introduction of QMC into SMC sampling non-trivial.” (p.3)

At a mathematical level, the fact that randomised low discrepancy sequences produce both unbiased estimators and error rates of order

\mathfrak{O}(N^{-1}\log(N)^{d-}) \text{ at cost } \mathfrak{O}(N\log(N))

means that randomised quasi-Monte Carlo methods should always be used, instead of regular Monte Carlo methods! So why is it not always used?! The difficulty stands [I think] in expressing the Monte Carlo estimators in terms of a deterministic function of a fixed number of uniforms (and possibly of past simulated values). At least this is why I never attempted at crossing the Rubicon into the quasi-Monte Carlo realm… And maybe also why the step had to appear in connection with particle filters, which can be seen as dynamic importance sampling methods and hence enjoy a local iid-ness that relates better to quasi-Monte Carlo integrators than single-chain MCMC algorithms.  For instance, each resampling step in a particle filter consists in a repeated multinomial generation, hence should have been turned into quasi-Monte Carlo ages ago. (However, rather than the basic solution drafted in Table 2, lower variance solutions like systematic and residual sampling have been proposed in the particle literature and I wonder if any of these is a special form of quasi-Monte Carlo.) In the present setting, the authors move further and apply quasi-Monte Carlo to the particles themselves. However, they still assume the deterministic transform

\mathbf{x}_t^n = \Gamma_t(\mathbf{x}_{t-1}^n,\mathbf{u}_{t}^n)

which the q-block on which I stumbled each time I contemplated quasi-Monte Carlo… So the fundamental difficulty with the whole proposal is that the generation from the Markov proposal

m_t(\tilde{\mathbf{x}}_{t-1}^n,\cdot)

has to be of the above form. Is the strength of this assumption discussed anywhere in the paper? All baseline distributions there are normal. And in the case it does not easily apply, what would the gain bw in only using the second step (i.e., quasi-Monte Carlo-ing the multinomial simulation from the empirical cdf)? In a sequential setting with unknown parameters θ, the transform is modified each time θ is modified and I wonder at the impact on computing cost if the inverse cdf is not available analytically. And I presume simulating the θ’s cannot benefit from quasi-Monte Carlo improvements.

The paper obviously cannot get into every detail, obviously, but I would also welcome indications on the cost of deriving the Hilbert curve, in particular in connection with the dimension d as it has to separate all of the N particles, and on the stopping rule on m that means only Hm is used.

Another question stands with the multiplicity of low discrepancy sequences and their impact on the overall convergence. If Art Owen’s (1997) nested scrambling leads to the best rate, as implied by Theorem 7, why should we ever consider another choice?

In connection with Lemma 1 and the sequential quasi-Monte Carlo approximation of the evidence, I wonder at any possible Rao-Blackwellisation using all proposed moves rather than only those accepted. I mean, from a quasi-Monte Carlo viewpoint, is Rao-Blackwellisation easier and is it of any significant interest?

What are the computing costs and gains for forward and backward sampling? They are not discussed there. I also fail to understand the trick at the end of 4.2.1, using SQMC on a single vector instead of (t+1) of them. Again assuming inverse cdfs are available? Any connection with the Polson et al.’s particle learning literature?

Last questions: what is the (learning) effort for lazy me to move to SQMC? Any hope of stepping outside particle filtering?

Bayesian computation with empirical likelihood and no A

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2012 by xi'an

We just resubmitted our paper to PNAS about using empirical likelihood for conducting Bayesian computation. Although this is an approximation as well, we removed the A (for approximation) from the title and from the name of the method, BCel, to comply with a referee’s request and also account for several comments during our seminars that this was not ABC! We can see the point in those comments, namely that ABC is understood as a corpus of methods that rely on the simulation of pseudo-datasets to compensate for the missing likelihood, while empirical likelihood stands as another route bypassing this difficulty… I keep my fingers crossed that this ultimate revision is convincing enough for the PNAS board!

Coincidentally, Jean-Pierre Florens came to give a (Malinvaud) seminar at CREST today about semi-parametric Bayesian modelling, mixing Gaussian process priors with generalised moment conditions. This was a fairly involved talk with a lot of technical details about RKHS spaces and a mix of asymptotics and conjugate priors (somewhat empirical Bayesianish in spirit!) In a sense, it was puzzling because the unknown distribution was modelled conditional on an unknown parameter, θ, which itself was a function of this distribution. It was however quite interesting in that it managed to mix Gaussian process priors with some sort of empirical likelihood (or GMM). Furthermore, in a sort of antithesis to our approach with empirical likelihood, Florens and Simoni had a plethora of moment restrictions they called over-identification and used this feature to improve the estimation of the underlying density. There were also connections with Fukumizu et al. kernel Bayes’ rule perspective, even though I am not clear about the later. I also got lost here by the representation of the data as a point in an Hilbert space, thanks to a convolution step. (The examples involved orthogonal polynomials like Lagrange’s or Hermitte’s, which made sense as the data was back to a finite dimension!) Once again, the most puzzling thing is certainly  over-identification: in an empirical likelihood version, it would degrade the quality of the approximation by peaking more and more the approximation. It does not appear to cause such worries in Florens’ and Simoni’s perspective.

kernel approximate Bayesian computation for population genetic inferences

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , on May 22, 2012 by xi'an

A new posting about ABC on arXiv by Shigeki Nakagome, Kenji Fukumizu, and Shuhei Mano entitled kernel approximate Bayesian computation for population genetic inferences argues about an improvement brought by the use of reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS) perspective in ABC methodology, when compared with more standard ABC relying on a rather arbitrary choice of summary statistics and metric. However, I feel that the paper does not substantially defend this point, only using a simulation experiment to compare mean square errors. In particular, the claim of consistency is unsubstantiated, as is the counterpoint that “conventional ABC did not have consistency” (page 14) [and several papers, including the just published Read Paper by Fearnhead and Prangle, claim the opposite]. Furthermore, a considerable amount of space is taken in the paper by the description of the existing ABC algorithms, while the complete version of the new kernel ABC-RKHS algorithm is missing. In particular, the coverage of kernel Bayes is too sketchy to be comprehensible [at least to me] without additional study. Actually, I do not get the notion of kernel Bayes’ rule, which seems defined only in terms of expectations

\mathbb{E}[f(\theta)|s]=\sum_i w_i f(\theta_i),

where the weights are the ridge-like matrix

w_i=\sum_j (\mathbf{G}_S + n\epsilon_n \mathbf{I}_n)^{-1}_{ij}k(s_i,s_j)

where the parameter is generated from the prior, the data s is generated from the sampling distribution, and the matrix GS is made of the k(si,sj)‘s. The surrounding Hilbert space presentation does not seem particularly relevant, esp. in population genetics… I am also under the impression that the choice of the kernel function k(.,.) is as important as the choice of the metric in regular ABC, although this is not discussed in the paper, since it implies [among other things] the choice of a metric. The implementation uses a Gaussian kernel and an Euclidean metric, which involves assumptions on the homogeneous nature of the components of the summary statistics or of the data. Similarly, the “regularization” parameter εn needs to be calibrated and the paper is unclear about this, apparently picking the parameter that “showed the smallest MSEs” (page 10), which cannot be called a calibration. (There is a rather unimportant proposition about concentration of information on page 6 which proof relies on two densities being ordered, see top of page 7.)