BR-SNIS: Bias Reduced Self-Normalized Importance Sampling

Gabriel Cardoso · Sergey Samsonov · Achille Thin · Eric Moulines · Jimmy Olsson

Hall J #327

Keywords: [ Self Normalized Importance Sampling ] [ Importance Sampling ] [ Monte Carlo ] [ Markov chain Monte Carlo ]


Importance Sampling (IS) is a method for approximating expectations with respect to a target distribution using independent samples from a proposal distribution and the associated to importance weights. In many cases, the target distribution is known up to a normalization constant and self-normalized IS (SNIS) is then used. While the use of self-normalization can have a positive effect on the dispersion of the estimator, it introduces bias. In this work, we propose a new method BR-SNIS whose complexity is essentially the same as SNIS and which significantly reduces bias. This method is a wrapper, in the sense that it uses the same proposal samples and importance weights but makes a clever use of iterated sampling-importance-resampling (i-SIR) to form a bias-reduced version of the estimator. We derive the proposed algorithm with rigorous theoretical results, including novel bias, variance, and high-probability bounds. We illustrate our findings with numerical examples.

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