Efficient inference in state-space models through adaptive learning in online Monte Carlo expectation maximization
Henderson D., Lunter G.
© 2019, The Author(s). Expectation maximization (EM) is a technique for estimating maximum-likelihood parameters of a latent variable model given observed data by alternating between taking expectations of sufficient statistics, and maximizing the expected log likelihood. For situations where sufficient statistics are intractable, stochastic approximation EM (SAEM) is often used, which uses Monte Carlo techniques to approximate the expected log likelihood. Two common implementations of SAEM, Batch EM (BEM) and online EM (OEM), are parameterized by a “learning rate”, and their efficiency depend strongly on this parameter. We propose an extension to the OEM algorithm, termed Introspective Online Expectation Maximization (IOEM), which removes the need for specifying this parameter by adapting the learning rate to trends in the parameter updates. We show that our algorithm matches the efficiency of the optimal BEM and OEM algorithms in multiple models, and that the efficiency of IOEM can exceed that of BEM/OEM methods with optimal learning rates when the model has many parameters. Finally we use IOEM to fit two models to a financial time series. A Python implementation is available at https://github.com/luntergroup/IOEM.git.