Ari Pakman (Columbia University): Auxiliary-variable Exact Hamiltonian Monte Carlo Samplers for Binary Distributions

We present a new approach to sample from generic binary distributions, based on an exact Hamiltonian Monte Carlo algorithm applied to a piecewise continuous augmentation of the binary distribution of interest. An extension of this idea to distributions over mixtures of binary and possibly-truncated Gaussian or exponential variables allows us to sample from posteriors of linear and probit regression models with spike-and-slab priors and truncated parameters. We illustrate the advantages of these algorithms in several examples in which they outperform the Metropolis or Gibbs samplers.

Keywords: Hamiltonian Monte Carlo, binary distributions, spike-and-slab

Link: arxiv:1311.2166