Sticky PDMP samplers for sparse and local inference problems

Joris Bierkens, Sebastiano Grazzi*, Frank van der Meulen, Moritz Schauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


We construct a new class of efficient Monte Carlo methods based on continuous-time piecewise deterministic Markov processes (PDMPs) suitable for inference in high dimensional sparse models, i.e. models for which there is prior knowledge that many coordinates are likely to be exactly 0. This is achieved with the fairly simple idea of endowing existing PDMP samplers with “sticky” coordinate axes, coordinate planes etc. Upon hitting those subspaces, an event is triggered during which the process sticks to the subspace, this way spending some time in a sub-model. This results in non-reversible jumps between different (sub-)models. While we show that PDMP samplers in general can be made sticky, we mainly focus on the Zig-Zag sampler. Compared to the Gibbs sampler for variable selection, we heuristically derive favourable dependence of the Sticky Zig-Zag sampler on dimension and data size. The computational efficiency of the Sticky Zig-Zag sampler is further established through numerical experiments where both the sample size and the dimension of the parameter space are large.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalStatistics and Computing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Bayesian variable selection
  • Big-data
  • High-dimensional problems
  • Monte Carlo
  • Non-reversible jump
  • Piecewise deterministic Markov process
  • Spike-and-slab


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