Sample Adaptive MCMC

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Michael Zhu


For MCMC methods like Metropolis-Hastings, tuning the proposal distribution is important in practice for effective sampling from the target distribution \pi. In this paper, we present Sample Adaptive MCMC (SA-MCMC), a MCMC method based on a reversible Markov chain for \pi^{\otimes N} that uses an adaptive proposal distribution based on the current state of N points and a sequential substitution procedure with one new likelihood evaluation per iteration and at most one updated point each iteration. The SA-MCMC proposal distribution automatically adapts within its parametric family to best approximate the target distribution, so in contrast to many existing MCMC methods, SA-MCMC does not require any tuning of the proposal distribution. Instead, SA-MCMC only requires specifying the initial state of N points, which can often be chosen a priori, thereby automating the entire sampling procedure with no tuning required. Experimental results demonstrate the fast adaptation and effective sampling of SA-MCMC.