On a Selection of Advanced Markov Chain Monte Carlo Algorithms for Everyday Use: Weighted Particle Tempering, Practical Reversible Jump, and Extensions
Carzolio, Marcos Arantes
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We are entering an exciting era, rich in the availability of data via sources such as the Internet, satellites, particle colliders, telecommunication networks, computer simulations, and the like. The confluence of increasing computational resources, volumes of data, and variety of statistical procedures has brought us to a modern enlightenment. Within the next century, these tools will combine to reveal unforeseeable insights into the social and natural sciences. Perhaps the largest headwind we now face is our collectively slow-moving imagination. Like a car on an open road, learning is limited by its own rate. Historically, slow information dissemination and the unavailability of experimental resources limited our learning. To that point, any methodological contribution that helps in the conversion of data into knowledge will accelerate us along this open road. Furthermore, if that contribution is accessible to others, the speedup in knowledge discovery scales exponentially. Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) is a broad class of powerful algorithms, typically used for Bayesian inference. Despite their variety and versatility, these algorithms rarely become mainstream workhorses because they can be difficult to implement. The humble goal of this work is to bring to the table a few more highly versatile and robust, yet easily-tuned algorithms. Specifically, we introduce weighted particle tempering, a parallelizable MCMC procedure that is adaptable to large computational resources. We also explore and develop a highly practical implementation of reversible jump, the most generalized form of MetropolisHastings. Finally, we combine these two algorithms into reversible jump weighted particle tempering, and apply it on a model and dataset that was partially collected by the author and his collaborators, halfway around the world. It is our hope that by introducing, developing, and exhibiting these algorithms, we can make a reasonable contribution to the ever-growing body of MCMC research.
- Doctoral Dissertations