Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

*Kuldeep S Meel, Yash Pralhad Pote, Sourav Chakraborty*

Given a set of items F and a weight function W: F -> (0,1), the problem of sampling seeks to sample an item proportional to its weight. Sampling is a fundamental problem in machine learning. The daunting computational complexity of sampling with formal guarantees leads designers to propose heuristics-based techniques for which no rigorous theoretical analysis exists to quantify the quality of the generated distributions. This poses a challenge in designing a testing methodology to test whether a sampler under test generates samples according to a given distribution. Only recently, Chakraborty and Meel (2019) designed the first scalable verifier, called Barbarik, for samplers in the special case when the weight function W is constant, that is, when the sampler is supposed to sample uniformly from F. The techniques in Barbarik, however, fail to handle general weight functions. The primary contribution of this paper is an affirmative answer to the above challenge: motivated by Barbarik, but using different techniques and analysis, we design Barbarik2, an algorithm to test whether the distribution generated by a sampler is epsilon-close or eta-far from any target distribution. In contrast to black-box sampling techniques that require a number of samples proportional to |F|, Barbarik2 requires only \tilde{O}(Tilt(W, F)^2/eta(eta - 6*epsilon)^3) samples, where the Tilt is the maximum ratio of weights of two points in F. Barbarik2 can handle any arbitrary weight function. We present a prototype implementation of Barbarik2 and use it to test three state-of-the-art samplers.

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