Working with Probabilistic Inference in Machine Learning part3 | by Monodeep Mukherjee | Apr, 2024

  1. Valid and efficient imprecise-probabilistic inference with partial priors, III. Marginalization

Authors: Ryan Martin

Abstract: As Basu (1977) writes, “Eliminating nuisance parameters from a model is universally recognized as a major problem of statistics,” but after more than 50 years since Basu wrote these words, the two mainstream schools of thought in statistics have yet to solve the problem. Fortunately, the two mainstream frameworks aren’t the only options. This series of papers rigorously develops a new and very general inferential model (IM) framework for imprecise-probabilistic statistical inference that is provably valid and efficient, while simultaneously accommodating incomplete or partial prior information about the relevant unknowns when it’s available. The present paper, Part III in the series, tackles the marginal inference problem. Part II showed that, for parametric models, the likelihood function naturally plays a central role and, here, when nuisance parameters are present, the same principles suggest that the profile likelihood is the key player. When the likelihood factors nicely, so that the interest and nuisance parameters are perfectly separated, the valid and efficient profile-based marginal IM solution is immediate. But even when the likelihood doesn’t factor nicely, the same profile-based solution remains valid and leads to efficiency gains. This is demonstrated in several examples, including the famous Behrens — Fisher and gamma mean problems, where I claim the proposed IM solution is the best solution available. Remarkably, the same profiling-based construction offers validity guarantees in the prediction and non-parametric inference problems. Finally, I show how a broader view of this new IM construction can handle non-parametric inference on risk minimizers and makes a connection between non-parametric IMs and conformal prediction.

2. Total Variation Distance Estimation Is as Easy as Probabilistic Inference

Authors: Arnab Bhattacharyya, Sutanu Gayen, Kuldeep S. Meel, Dimitrios Myrisiotis, A. Pavan, N. V. Vinodchandran

Abstract: In this paper, we establish a novel connection between total variation (TV) distance estimation and probabilistic inference. In particular, we present an efficient, structure-preserving reduction from relative approximation of TV distance to probabilistic inference over directed graphical models. This reduction leads to a fully polynomial randomized approximation scheme (FPRAS) for estimating TV distances between distributions over any class of Bayes nets for which there is an efficient probabilistic inference algorithm. In particular, it leads to an FPRAS for estimating TV distances between distributions that are defined by Bayes nets of bounded treewidth. Prior to this work, such approximation schemes only existed for estimating TV distances between product distributions. Our approach employs a new notion of partial couplings of high-dimensional distributions, which might be of independent interest

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