## conditioning an algorithm

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2021 by xi'an

A question of interest on X validated: given a (possibly black-box) algorithm simulating from a joint distribution with density [wrt a continuous measure] p(z,y) (how) is it possible to simulate from the conditional p(y|z⁰)? Which reminded me of a recent paper by Lindqvist et al. on conditional Monte Carlo. Which zooms on the simulation of a sample X given the value of a sufficient statistic, T(X)=t, revolving about pivotal quantities and inversions à la fiducial statistics, following an earlier Biometrika paper by Lindqvist & Taraldsen, in 2005. The idea is to write $X=\chi(U,\theta)\qquad T(X)=\tau(U,\theta)$

where U has a distribution that depends on θ, to solve τ(u,θ)=t in θ for a given pair (u,t) with solution θ(u,t) and to generate u conditional on this solution. But this requires getting “under the hood” of the algorithm to such an extent as not answering the original question, or being open to other solutions using the expression for the joint density p(z,y)… In a purely black box situation, ABC appears as the natural if approximate solution.

## conjugate priors and sufficient statistics

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , on March 29, 2021 by xi'an

An X validated question rekindled my interest in the connection between sufficiency and conjugacy, by asking whether or not there was an equivalence between the existence of a (finite dimension) conjugate family of priors and the existence of a fixed (in n, the sample size) dimension sufficient statistic. Outside exponential families, meaning that the support of the sampling distribution need vary with the parameter.

While the existence of a sufficient statistic T of fixed dimension d whatever the (large enough) sample size n seems to clearly imply the existence of a (finite dimension) conjugate family of priors, or rather of a family associated with each possible dominating (prior) measure, $\mathfrak F=\{ \tilde \pi(\theta)\propto \tilde {f_n}(t_n(x_{1:n})|\theta) \pi_0(\theta)\,;\ n\in \mathbb N, x_{1:n}\in\mathfrak X^n\}$

the reverse statement is a wee bit more delicate to prove, due to the varying supports of the sampling or prior distributions. Unless some conjugate prior in the assumed family has an unrestricted support, the argument seems to limit sufficiency to a particular subset of the parameter set. I think that the result remains correct in general but could not rigorously wrap up the proof

## a most unusual definition of sufficiency

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics with tags , , , on January 13, 2021 by xi'an A most unusual definition (?) of sufficiency came up on X validated this morn, as stated in Koller and Friedman’s Probabilistic Graphical Models. But as reported, it is quite restrictive, apparently limited to the natural statistic of an exponential family with conditionally Uniform ancillary (since the likelihood functions are equal rather than proportional). Even more strangely, with this formulation, the Normal sample size n [typo on the last line of the question] appears as a component of the sufficient statistic (Example 17.4). While not being random.

## factorisation theorem on densities

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on December 23, 2020 by xi'an Another occurrence, while building my final math stat exam for my (quarantined!) third year students, of a question on X validated that led me to write down more precisely an argument for the decomposition of densities in exponential families. Albeit the decomposition is somewhat moot (and lost on the initiator of the question since this person later posted an answer ignoring measures), as it all depends on the choice of the dominating measures over X, T(X), and the slices {x; T(x)=t}. The fact that the slice does depend on t requires the measure to accept a potential dependence on t, in which case the conditional density wrt this measure can as well be constant.

## A precursor of ABC-Gibbs

Posted in Books, R, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2019 by xi'an Following our arXival of ABC-Gibbs, Dennis Prangle pointed out to us a 2016 paper by Athanasios Kousathanas, Christoph Leuenberger, Jonas Helfer, Mathieu Quinodoz, Matthieu Foll, and Daniel Wegmann, Likelihood-Free Inference in High-Dimensional Model, published in Genetics, Vol. 203, 893–904 in June 2016. This paper contains a version of ABC Gibbs where parameters are sequentially simulated from conditionals that depend on the data only through small dimension conditionally sufficient statistics. I had actually blogged about this paper in 2015 but since then completely forgotten about it. (The comments I had made at the time still hold, already pertaining to the coherence or lack thereof of the sampler. I had also forgotten I had run an experiment of an exact Gibbs sampler with incoherent conditionals, which then seemed to converge to something, if not the exact posterior.)

All ABC algorithms, including ABC-PaSS introduced here, require that statistics are sufficient for estimating the parameters of a given model. As mentioned above, parameter-wise sufficient statistics as required by ABC-PaSS are trivial to find for distributions of the exponential family. Since many population genetics models do not follow such distributions, sufficient statistics are known for the most simple models only. For more realistic models involving multiple populations or population size changes, only approximately-sufficient statistics can be found.

While Gibbs sampling is not mentioned in the paper, this is indeed a form of ABC-Gibbs, with the advantage of not facing convergence issues thanks to the sufficiency. The drawback being that this setting is restricted to exponential families and hence difficult to extrapolate to non-exponential distributions, as using almost-sufficient (or not) summary statistics leads to incompatible conditionals and thus jeopardise the convergence of the sampler. When thinking a wee bit more about the case treated by Kousathanas et al., I am actually uncertain about the validation of the sampler. When tolerance is equal to zero, this is not an issue as it reproduces the regular Gibbs sampler. Otherwise, each conditional ABC step amounts to introducing an auxiliary variable represented by the simulated summary statistic. Since the distribution of this summary statistic depends on more than the parameter for which it is sufficient, in general, it should also appear in the conditional distribution of other parameters. At least from this Gibbs perspective, it thus relies on incompatible conditionals, which makes the conditions proposed in our own paper the more relevant.