A splitting method to reduce MCMC variance

11/27/2020 ∙ by Robert J. Webber, et al. ∙ 0

We explore whether splitting and killing methods can improve the accuracy of Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) estimates of rare event probabilities, and we make three contributions. First, we prove that "weighted ensemble" is the only splitting and killing method that provides asymptotically consistent estimates when combined with MCMC. Second, we prove a lower bound on the asymptotic variance of weighted ensemble's estimates. Third, we give a constructive proof and numerical examples to show that weighted ensemble can approach this optimal variance bound, in many cases reducing the variance of MCMC estimates by multiple orders of magnitude.

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