Towards Unifying Hamiltonian Monte Carlo and Slice Sampling

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 29 (NIPS 2016)

Bibtex Metadata Paper Reviews Supplemental


Yizhe Zhang, Xiangyu Wang, Changyou Chen, Ricardo Henao, Kai Fan, Lawrence Carin


We unify slice sampling and Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (HMC) sampling, demonstrating their connection via the Hamiltonian-Jacobi equation from Hamiltonian mechanics. This insight enables extension of HMC and slice sampling to a broader family of samplers, called Monomial Gamma Samplers (MGS). We provide a theoretical analysis of the mixing performance of such samplers, proving that in the limit of a single parameter, the MGS draws decorrelated samples from the desired target distribution. We further show that as this parameter tends toward this limit, performance gains are achieved at a cost of increasing numerical difficulty and some practical convergence issues. Our theoretical results are validated with synthetic data and real-world applications.