Multiple Proposal Strategies for Markov Chain Monte Carlo
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The multiple proposal methods represent a recent simulation technique for Markov Chain Monte Carlo that allows several proposals to be considered at each step of transition. Motivated by the ideas of Quasi Monte Carlo integration, we examine how strongly correlated proposals can be employed to construct Markov chains with improved mixing properties. We proceed by giving a concise introduction to the Monte Carlo and Markov Chain Monte Carlo theory, and we supply a short discussion of the standard simulation algorithms and the difficulties of efficient sampling. We then examine two multiple proposal methods suggested in the literature, and we indicate the possibility of a unified formulation of the two methods. More essentially, we report some systematic exploration strategies for the two multiple proposals methods. In particular, we present schemes for the utilization of well-distributed point sets and maximally spread search directions. We also include a simple construction procedure for the latter type of point set. A numerical examination of the multiple proposal methods are performed on two simple test problems. We find that the systematic exploration approach may provide a significant improvement of the mixing, especially when the probability mass of the target distribution is ``easy to miss'' by independent sampling. For both test problems, we find that the best results are obtained with the QMC schemes. In particular, we find that the gain is most pronounced for a relatively moderate number of proposal. With fewer proposals, the properties of the well-distributed point sets will no be that relevant. For a large number of proposals, the independent sampling approach will be more competitive, since the coverage of the local neighborhood then will be better.