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Chain of Log-Concave Markov Chains

Saeed Saremi · Ji Won Park · Francis Bach

Halle B #148
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Wed 8 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


We introduce a theoretical framework for sampling from unnormalized densities based on a smoothing scheme that uses an isotropic Gaussian kernel with a single fixed noise scale. We prove one can decompose sampling from a density (minimal assumptions made on the density) into a sequence of sampling from log-concave conditional densities via accumulation of noisy measurements with equal noise levels. Our construction is unique in that it keeps track of a history of samples, making it non-Markovian as a whole, but it is lightweight algorithmically as the history only shows up in the form of a running empirical mean of samples. Our sampling algorithm generalizes walk-jump sampling (Saremi & Hyvärinen, 2019). The "walk" phase becomes a (non-Markovian) chain of (log-concave) Markov chains. The "jump" from the accumulated measurements is obtained by empirical Bayes. We study our sampling algorithm quantitatively using the 2-Wasserstein metric and compare it with various Langevin MCMC algorithms. We also report a remarkable capacity of our algorithm to "tunnel" between modes of a distribution.

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