Bayesian methods for multi-modal posterior topologies

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
The purpose of this thesis is to develop efficient Bayesian methods to address multi-modality in posterior topologies. In Chapter 2 we develop a new general Bayesian methodology that simultaneously estimates parameters of interest and probability of the model. The proposed methodology builds on the Simulated Tempering algorithm, which is a powerful sampling algorithm that handles multi-modal distributions, but it is difficult to use in practice due to the requirement to choose suitable prior for the temperature and temperature schedule. Our proposed algorithm removes this requirement, while preserving the sampling efficiency of the Simulated Tempering algorithm. We illustrate the applicability of the new algorithm to different examples involving mixture models of Gaussian distributions and ordinary differential equation models. Chapter 3 proposes a general optimization strategy, which combines results from different optimization or parameter estimation methods to overcome shortcomings of a single method. Embedding the proposed optimization strategy in the Incremental Mixture Importance Sampling with Optimization algorithm (IMIS-Opt) significantly improves sampling efficiency and removes the dependence on the choice of the prior of the IMIS-Opt. We demonstrate that the resulting algorithm provides accurate parameter estimates, while the IMIS-Opt gets trapped in a local mode in the case of the ordinary differential equation (ODE) models. Finally, the resulting algorithm is implemented within the Approximate Bayesian Computation framework to draw likelihood-free inference. Chapter 4 introduces a generalization of the Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) that handles multi-modality in the posterior space. The BIC is a computationally efficient model selection tool, but it relies on the assumption that the posterior distribution is unimodal. When the posterior is multi-modal the BIC uses only one posterior mode, while discarding the information from the rest of the modes. We demonstrate that the BIC produces inaccurate estimates of the posterior probability of the bimodal model, which in some cases results in the BIC selecting the sub-optimal model. As a remedy, we propose a Multi-modal BIC (MBIC) that incorporates all relevant posterior modes, while preserving the computational efficiency of the BIC. The accuracy of the MBIC is demonstrated through bimodal models and mixture models of Gaussian distributions.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Campbell, David
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