Multi-fidelity Monte Carlo: a pseudo-marginal approach

Abstract

Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) is an established approach for uncertainty quantification and propagation in scientific applications. A key challenge in applying MCMC to scientific domains is computation—the target density of interest is often a function of expensive computations, such as a high-fidelity physical simulation, an intractable integral, or a slowly-converging iterative algorithm. Thus, using an MCMC algorithms with an expensive target density becomes impractical, as these expensive computations need to be evaluated at each iteration of the algorithm. In practice, these computations often approximated via a cheaper, low-fidelity computation, leading to bias in the resulting target density. Multi-fidelity MCMC algorithms combine likelihoods of varying fidelities in order to obtain an approximate target density with lower computational cost. In this paper, we describe a class of asymptotically exact multi-fidelity MCMC algorithms for the setting where a sequence of likelihoods of increasing fidelity can be computed that approximates the high-fidelity likelihood. We take a pseudo-marginal MCMC approach for multi-fidelity inference that utilizes a low-fidelity unbiased estimator of the high-fidelity likelihood constructed via randomized truncation of a telescoping series of the low-fidelity sequence of models. Finally, we discuss and evaluate the proposed multi-fidelity MCMC approach on several applications, including log-Gaussian Cox process modeling, Bayesian ODE system identification, PDE-constrained optimization, and Gaussian process regression parameter inference.

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