Deriving Probability Density Functions from Probabilistic Functional Programs

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Abstract

The probability density function of a probability distribution is a fundamental concept in probability theory and a key ingredient in various widely used machine learning methods. However, the necessary framework for compiling probabilistic functional programs to density functions has only recently been developed. In this work, we present a density compiler for a probabilistic language with discrete and continuous distributions, and discrete observations, and provide a proof of its soundness. The compiler greatly reduces the development effort of domain experts, which we demonstrate by solving inference problems from various scientific applications, such as modelling the global carbon cycle, using a standard Markov chain Monte Carlo framework.