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Likelihood-free MCMC with Amortized Approximate Ratio Estimators

Joeri Hermans · Volodimir Begy · Gilles Louppe

Keywords: [ Approximate Inference ] [ Bayesian Deep Learning ] [ Bayesian Methods ] [ Monte Carlo Methods ] [ Probabilistic Inference - Approximate, Monte Carlo, and Spectral Methods ]


Posterior inference with an intractable likelihood is becoming an increasingly common task in scientific domains which rely on sophisticated computer simulations. Typically, these forward models do not admit tractable densities forcing practitioners to rely on approximations. This work introduces a novel approach to address the intractability of the likelihood and the marginal model. We achieve this by learning a flexible amortized estimator which approximates the likelihood-to-evidence ratio. We demonstrate that the learned ratio estimator can be embedded in \textsc{mcmc} samplers to approximate likelihood-ratios between consecutive states in the Markov chain, allowing us to draw samples from the intractable posterior. Techniques are presented to improve the numerical stability and to measure the quality of an approximation. The accuracy of our approach is demonstrated on a variety of benchmarks against well-established techniques. Scientific applications in physics show its applicability.

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