Simulation-based Inference: From Approximate Bayesian Computation and Particle Methods to Neural Density Estimation

Samuel Wiqvist

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

732 Downloads (Pure)


This doctoral thesis in computational statistics utilizes both Monte Carlo methods(approximate Bayesian computation and sequential Monte Carlo) and machine­-learning methods (deep learning and normalizing flows) to develop novel algorithms for infer­ence in implicit Bayesian models. Implicit models are those for which calculating the likelihood function is very challenging (and often impossible), but model simulation is feasible. The inference methods developed in the thesis are simulation­-based infer­ence methods since they leverage the possibility to simulate data from the implicit models. Several approaches are considered in the thesis: Paper II and IV focus on classical methods (sequential Monte Carlo­-based methods), while paper I and III fo­cus on more recent machine learning methods (deep learning and normalizing flows, respectively).

Paper I constructs novel deep learning methods for learning summary statistics for approximate Bayesian computation (ABC). To achieve this paper I introduces the partially exchangeable network (PEN), a deep learning architecture specifically de­signed for Markovian data (i.e., partially exchangeable data).

Paper II considers Bayesian inference in stochastic differential equation mixed-effects models (SDEMEM). Bayesian inference for SDEMEMs is challenging due to the intractable likelihood function of SDEMEMs. Paper II addresses this problem by designing a novel a Gibbs­-blocking strategy in combination with correlated pseudo­ marginal methods. The paper also discusses how custom particle filters can be adapted to the inference procedure.

Paper III introduces the novel inference method sequential neural posterior and like­lihood approximation (SNPLA). SNPLA is a simulation­-based inference algorithm that utilizes normalizing flows for learning both the posterior distribution and the likelihood function of an implicit model via a sequential scheme. By learning both the likelihood and the posterior, and by leveraging the reverse Kullback Leibler (KL) divergence, SNPLA avoids ad­-hoc correction steps and Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling.

Paper IV introduces the accelerated-delayed acceptance (ADA) algorithm. ADA can be viewed as an extension of the delayed­-acceptance (DA) MCMC algorithm that leverages connections between the two likelihood ratios of DA to further accelerate MCMC sampling from the posterior distribution of interest, although our approach introduces an approximation. The main case study of paper IV is a double­-well po­tential stochastic differential equation (DWP­SDE) model for protein-­folding data (reaction coordinate data).
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Mathematical Statistics
  • Picchini, Umberto, Supervisor
  • Jakobsson, Andreas, Assistant supervisor
Award date2021 Sept 24
ISBN (Print)9789178959679
ISBN (electronic) 9789178959686
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug 16

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2021-09-24
Time: 13:00
Place: Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Lund. Join via zoom:
External reviewer(s)
Name: Wilkinson, Darren J
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Newcastle University

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Probability Theory and Statistics

Free keywords

  • Bayesian statistics
  • computational statistics
  • deep learning
  • mixed­-effects
  • sequential Monte Carlo
  • stochastic dif­ferential equations


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