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A Conceptual Introduction to Hamiltonian Monte Carlo
Michael Betancourt
2017-01-10 — arXiv
Submitted 3 months ago by jtloong to statistics
Abstract
Hamiltonian Monte Carlo has proven a remarkable empirical success, but only recently have we begun to develop a rigorous under- standing of why it performs so well on difficult problems and how it is best applied in practice. Unfortunately, that understanding is con- fined within the mathematics of differential geometry which has limited its dissemination, especially to the applied communities for which it is particularly important. In this review I provide a comprehensive conceptual account of these theoretical foundations, focusing on developing a principled intuition behind the method and its optimal implementations rather of any ex- haustive rigor. Whether a practitioner or a statistician, the dedicated reader will acquire a solid grasp of how Hamiltonian Monte Carlo works, when it succeeds, and, perhaps most importantly, when it fails.

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