Scalable Approximate Bayesian Computation for Growing Network Models via Extrapolated and Sampled Summaries

by   Louis Raynal, et al.

Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) is a simulation-based likelihood-free method applicable to both model selection and parameter estimation. ABC parameter estimation requires the ability to forward simulate datasets from a candidate model, but because the sizes of the observed and simulated datasets usually need to match, this can be computationally expensive. Additionally, since ABC inference is based on comparisons of summary statistics computed on the observed and simulated data, using computationally expensive summary statistics can lead to further losses in efficiency. ABC has recently been applied to the family of mechanistic network models, an area that has traditionally lacked tools for inference and model choice. Mechanistic models of network growth repeatedly add nodes to a network until it reaches the size of the observed network, which may be of the order of millions of nodes. With ABC, this process can quickly become computationally prohibitive due to the resource intensive nature of network simulations and evaluation of summary statistics. We propose two methodological developments to enable the use of ABC for inference in models for large growing networks. First, to save time needed for forward simulating model realizations, we propose a procedure to extrapolate (via both least squares and Gaussian processes) summary statistics from small to large networks. Second, to reduce computation time for evaluating summary statistics, we use sample-based rather than census-based summary statistics. We show that the ABC posterior obtained through this approach, which adds two additional layers of approximation to the standard ABC, is similar to a classic ABC posterior. Although we deal with growing network models, both extrapolated summaries and sampled summaries are expected to be relevant in other ABC settings where the data are generated incrementally.


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