Multicore Gibbs Sampling in Dense, Unstructured Graphs


Tianbing Xu, Alexander Ihler ;
Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 15:798-806, 2011.


Multicore computing is on the rise, but algorithms such as Gibbs sampling are fundamentally sequential and may require close consideration to be made parallel. Existing techniques either exploit sparse problem structure or make approximations to the algorithm; in this work, we explore an alternative to these ideas. We develop a parallel Gibbs sampling algorithm for shared-memory systems that does not require any independence structure among the variables yet does not approximate the sampling distributions. Our method uses a look-ahead sampler, which uses bounds to attempt to sample variables before the results of other threads are made available. We demonstrate our algorithm on Gibbs sampling in Boltzmann machines and latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA). We show in experiments that our algorithm achieves near linear speed-up in the number of cores, is faster than existing exact samplers, and is nearly as fast as approximate samplers while maintaining the correct stationary distribution. [pdf]

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