Sampling-Based Accuracy Testing of Posterior Estimators for General Inference
Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 202:19256-19273, 2023.
Parameter inference, i.e. inferring the posterior distribution of the parameters of a statistical model given some data, is a central problem to many scientific disciplines. Posterior inference with generative models is an alternative to methods such as Markov Chain Monte Carlo, both for likelihood-based and simulation-based inference. However, assessing the accuracy of posteriors encoded in generative models is not straightforward. In this paper, we introduce "Tests of Accuracy with Random Points" (TARP) coverage testing as a method to estimate coverage probabilities of generative posterior estimators. Our method differs from previously-existing coverage-based methods, which require posterior evaluations. We prove that our approach is necessary and sufficient to show that a posterior estimator is accurate. We demonstrate the method on a variety of synthetic examples, and show that TARP can be used to test the results of posterior inference analyses in high-dimensional spaces. We also show that our method can detect inaccurate inferences in cases where existing methods fail.