On free energy barriers in Gaussian priors and failure of MCMC for high-dimensional unimodal distributions

by   Afonso S. Bandeira, et al.
University of Cambridge

We exhibit examples of high-dimensional unimodal posterior distributions arising in non-linear regression models with Gaussian process priors for which worst-case (`cold start') initialised MCMC methods typically take an exponential run-time to enter the regions where the bulk of the posterior measure concentrates. The counter-examples hold for general MCMC schemes based on gradient or random walk steps, and the theory is illustrated for Metropolis-Hastings adjusted methods such as pCN and MALA.


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