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Extremely expensive likelihoods - A variational-Bayes solution for precision cosmology

M. Rizzato and E. Sellentin. arXiv Preprint, submitted to MNRAS, March 9th, 2022.

Abstract: We present a variational-Bayes solution to compute non-Gaussian posteriors from extremely expensive likelihoods. Our approach is an alternative for parameter inference when MCMC sampling is numerically prohibitive or conceptually unfeasible. For example, when either the likelihood or the theoretical model cannot be evaluated at arbitrary parameter values, but only previously selected values, then traditional MCMC sampling is impossible, whereas our variational-Bayes solution still succeeds in estimating the full posterior. In cosmology, this occurs e.g. when the parametric model is based on costly simulations that were run for previously selected input parameters. We demonstrate our posterior construction on the KiDS-450 weak lensing analysis, where we reconstruct the original KiDS MCMC posterior at 0.6% of its former numerical cost. The reduction in numerical cost implies that systematic effects which formerly exhausted the numerical budget could now be included.


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