# Markov Chain Monte Carlo with known normalisation

I would like to compute the expectation value $$\langle O \rangle = \sum_x P(x) O(x)$$ of some random variable over an extremely large sample space that I cannot simply exhaustively go through. Usually I would use Metropolis Monte Carlo for this, but for this particular example I already know the exact normalized probability $$P(x)$$ with which each sample $$x$$ occurs.

How can I leverage this? Does this simply mean I do not need to wait for equilibration of my Markov Chain? I feel like knowing the normalization should allow me to use a much more efficient algorithm/method here. Ideally I would like to directly generate samples $$x_i$$ according to the distribution of $$P(x)$$ and then compute $$1/N \sum_{i=1}^N O(x_i)$$ but I do not see an easy way of doing this, apart from MCMC which does not utilise the full information I have available.

Thank you!

• The advantage of knowing the normalised $P(\cdot)$ is that you can compute how much of the mass has been explored by the Markov chain so far and hence decide on a stopping rule. May 4 at 4:33

Another way of looking at the issue of approximating$$\mathfrak I = \sum_{x\in\mathfrak X} p(x)O(x)$$by stochastic techniques is to aim at adding primarily large values of $$p(x)O(x)$$. Assuming no information is available about the [location or values of the] largest probabilities over $$\mathfrak X$$, one could consider a self-avoiding Markov chain by never returning to entries in $$\mathfrak X$$ already visited and move from $$X_t$$ to $$X_{t+1}$$ by choosing among neighbouring entries with probabilities proportional to $$p(x)O(x)$$ or $$\exp\{\alpha p(x)O(x)\}$$. With the added perk that since $$p(x)O(x)$$ is computed for these neighbours, they can all be added to the approximation of $$\mathfrak I$$ and excluded from future steps. The algorithm could stop when the probability of the visited values is close enough to one.

Here is a toy illustration where $$\mathfrak X$$ is an $$N\times N$$ grid, $$O(\cdot)$$ is a discretised Normal density (represented by the level set on the above picture) and $$\mathfrak X$$ is explored by a random exploration until the accumulated probability mass is $$0.999$$. The white dots in the above picture correspond to the points $$x$$ that have not been explored.

Here is the attached R code:

#preliminaries
N=5e2;N2=N*N
Y=matrix(0,N,N)#visited points
P=exp(matrix(rnorm(N2),N))
P=P/sum(P)#probability mass function
O=matrix(dnorm((1:N2)%%N,mean=N/2,sd=N/3)+
dnorm((1:N2)%/%N,mean=N/2,sd=N/3),N)#function O(x)
#stochastic exploration
m=sample(1:N2,1)#current point
t=P[m]*O[m]#targeted expectation
p=P[m]#visited mass
Y[m]=1
while(p<.999){
b=sample(which(!Y),4)#neighbours
Y[b]=1
p=p+sum(P[b])
t=t+sum(P[b]*O[b])
m=sample(b,1,prob=P[b]*O[b])}#next value