Linear-Time Gibbs Sampling in Piecewise Graphical Models
Keywords:Gibbs sampling, piecewise graphical models
Many real-world Bayesian inference problems such as preference learning or trader valuation modeling in financial markets naturally use piecewise likelihoods. Unfortunately, exact closed-form inference in the underlying Bayesian graphical models is intractable in the general case and existing approximation techniques provide few guarantees on both approximation quality and efficiency. While (Markov Chain) Monte Carlo methods provide an attractive asymptotically unbiased approximation approach, rejection sampling and Metropolis-Hastings both prove inefficient in practice, and analytical derivation of Gibbs samplers require exponential space and time in the amount of data. In this work, we show how to transform problematic piecewise likelihoods into equivalent mixture models and then provide a blocked Gibbs sampling approach for this transformed model that achieves an exponential-to-linear reduction in space and time compared to a conventional Gibbs sampler. This enables fast, asymptotically unbiased Bayesian inference in a new expressive class of piecewise graphical models and empirically requires orders of magnitude less time than rejection, Metropolis-Hastings, and conventional Gibbs sampling methods to achieve the same level of accuracy.