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Optimal scaling of random walk metropolis algorithms with non-Gaussian proposals

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Methodology and Computing in Applied Probability
Issue number3
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)583-601
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The asymptotic optimal scaling of random walk Metropolis (RWM) algorithms with Gaussian proposal distributions is well understood for certain specific classes of target distributions. These asymptotic results easily extend to any light tailed proposal distribution with finite fourth moment. However, heavy tailed proposal distributions such as the Cauchy distribution are known to have a number of desirable properties, and in many situations are preferable to light tailed proposal distributions. Therefore we consider the question of scaling for Cauchy distributed proposals for a wide range of independent and identically distributed (iid) product densities. The results are somewhat surprising as to when and when not Cauchy distributed proposals are preferable to Gaussian proposal distributions. This provides motivation for finding proposal distributions which improve on both Gaussian and Cauchy proposals, both for finite dimensional target distributions and asymptotically as the dimension of the target density, d → ∞. Throughout we seek the scaling of the proposal distribution which maximizes the expected squared jumping distance (ESJD).