AAAI Publications, Thirtieth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence

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Exact Sampling with Integer Linear Programs and Random Perturbations
Carolyn Kim, Ashish Sabharwal, Stefano Ermon

Last modified: 2016-03-05


We consider the problem of sampling from a discrete probability distribution specified by a graphical model. Exact samples can, in principle, be obtained by computing the mode of the original model perturbed with an exponentially many i.i.d. random variables. We propose a novel algorithm that views this as a combinatorial optimization problem and searches for the extreme state using a standard integer linear programming (ILP) solver, appropriately extended to account for the random perturbation. Our technique, GumbelMIP, leverages linear programming (LP) relaxations to evaluate the qualityof samples and prune large portions of the search space, and can thus scale to large tree-width models beyond the reach of current exact inference methods. Further, when the optimization problem is not solved to optimality, our method yields a novel approximate sampling technique. We empirically demonstrate that our approach parallelizes well, our exact sampler scales better than alternative approaches, and our approximate sampler yields better quality samples than a Gibbs sampler and a low-dimensional perturbation method.

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