Statistics and Computing

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 355–362 | Cite as

Bayesian model learning based on a parallel MCMC strategy

  • Jukka CoranderEmail author
  • Mats Gyllenberg
  • Timo Koski


We introduce a novel Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm for estimation of posterior probabilities over discrete model spaces. Our learning approach is applicable to families of models for which the marginal likelihood can be analytically calculated, either exactly or approximately, given any fixed structure. It is argued that for certain model neighborhood structures, the ordinary reversible Metropolis-Hastings algorithm does not yield an appropriate solution to the estimation problem. Therefore, we develop an alternative, non-reversible algorithm which can avoid the scaling effect of the neighborhood. To efficiently explore a model space, a finite number of interacting parallel stochastic processes is utilized. Our interaction scheme enables exploration of several local neighborhoods of a model space simultaneously, while it prevents the absorption of any particular process to a relatively inferior state. We illustrate the advantages of our method by an application to a classification model. In particular, we use an extensive bacterial database and compare our results with results obtained by different methods for the same data.


Bayesian analysis Markov chain Monte Carlo Model learning Parallel search 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rolf Nevanlinna Institute, Department of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of HelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsUniversity of LinköpingLinköpingSweden

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