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A Langevin-like Sampler for Discrete Distributions

Ruqi Zhang · Xingchao Liu · Qiang Liu

Room 307


We propose discrete Langevin proposal (DLP), a simple and scalable gradient-basedproposal for sampling complex high-dimensional discrete distributions. In contrast to Gibbs sampling-based methods, DLP is able to update all coordinates in parallel in a single step and the magnitude of changes is controlled by a stepsize. This allows a cheap and efficient exploration in the space of high-dimensional and strongly correlated variables. We prove the efficiency of DLP by showing that the asymptotic bias of its stationary distribution is zero for log-quadratic distributions, and is small for distributions that are close to being log-quadratic. With DLP, we develop several variants of sampling algorithms, including unadjusted, Metropolis-adjusted, stochastic and preconditioned versions. DLP outperforms many popular alternatives on a wide variety of tasks, including Ising models, restricted Boltzmann machines, deep energy-based models, binary neural networks and language generation.

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