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Path Auxiliary Proposal for MCMC in Discrete Space

Haoran Sun · Hanjun Dai · Wei Xia · Arun Ramamurthy


Energy-based Model (EBM) offers a powerful approach for modeling discrete structure, but both inference and learning of EBM are hard as it involves sampling from discrete distributions. Recent work shows Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) with the informed proposal is a powerful tool for such sampling. However, an informed proposal only allows local updates as it requires evaluating all energy changes in the neighborhood.In this work, we present a path auxiliary algorithm that uses a composition of local moves to efficiently explore large neighborhoods. We also give a fast version of our algorithm that only queries the evaluation of energy function twice for each proposal via linearization of the energy function. Empirically, we show that our path auxiliary algorithms considerably outperform other generic samplers on various discrete models for sampling, inference, and learning. Our method can also be used to train deep EBMs for high-dimensional discrete data.

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