Particle EM for Variable Selection

2017-08-08T20:07:09Z (GMT) by Veronika Ročková
<p>Despite its long history of success, the EM algorithm has been vulnerable to local entrapment when the posterior/likelihood is multi-modal. This is particularly pronounced in spike-and-slab posterior distributions for Bayesian variable selection. The main thrust of this article is to introduce the particle EM algorithm, a new population-based optimization strategy that harvests multiple modes in search spaces that present many local maxima. Motivated by nonparametric variational Bayes strategies, particle EM achieves this goal by deploying an ensemble of interactive repulsive particles. These particles are geared toward uncharted areas of the posterior, providing a more comprehensive summary of its topography than simple parallel EM deployments. A sequential Monte Carlo variant of particle EM is also proposed that explores a sequence of annealed posteriors by sampling from a set of mutually avoiding particles. Particle EM outputs a deterministic reconstruction of the posterior distribution for approximate fully Bayes inference by capturing its essential modes and mode weights. This reconstruction reflects model selection uncertainty and is supported by asymptotic considerations, which indicate that the requisite number of particles need not be large in the presence of sparsity (when <i>p</i> > <i>n</i>). Supplementary materials for this article are available online.</p>