The Nested Sampling algorithm, invented in the mid-2000s by John Skilling, represented a major advance in Bayesian computation. Whereas Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods are usually effective for sampling posterior distributions, Nested Sampling also calculates the marginal likelihood integral used for model comparison, which is a computationally demanding task. However, there are other kinds of integrals that we might want to compute. Specifically, the entropy, relative entropy, and mutual information, which quantify uncertainty and relevance, are all integrals whose form is inconvenient in most practical applications. I will present my technique, based on Nested Sampling, for estimating these quantities for probability distributions that are only accessible via MCMC sampling. This includes posterior distributions, marginal distributions, and distributions of derived quantities. I will present an example from experimental design, where one wants to optimise the relevance of the data for inference of a parameter.


Dr Brendon Brewer


University of Auckland


Fri, 03/06/2022 - 4:00pm


Online via zoom