Trace Class Markov Chains for Bayesian Inference with Generalized Double Pareto Shrinkage Priors

Subahdip Pal, Kshitij Khare, James P. Hobert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Bayesian shrinkage methods have generated a lot of interest in recent years, especially in the context of high-dimensional linear regression. In recent work, a Bayesian shrinkage approach using generalized double Pareto priors has been proposed. Several useful properties of this approach, including the derivation of a tractable three-block Gibbs sampler to sample from the resulting posterior density, have been established. We show that the Markov operator corresponding to this three-block Gibbs sampler is not Hilbert–Schmidt. We propose a simpler two-block Gibbs sampler and show that the corresponding Markov operator is trace class (and hence Hilbert–Schmidt). Establishing the trace class property for the proposed two-block Gibbs sampler has several useful consequences. Firstly, it implies that the corresponding Markov chain is geometrically ergodic, thereby implying the existence of a Markov chain central limit theorem, which in turn enables computation of asymptotic standard errors for Markov chain-based estimates of posterior quantities. Secondly, because the proposed Gibbs sampler uses two blocks, standard recipes in the literature can be used to construct a sandwich Markov chain (by inserting an appropriate extra step) to gain further efficiency and to achieve faster convergence. The trace class property for the two-block sampler implies that the corresponding sandwich Markov chain is also trace class and thereby geometrically ergodic. Finally, it also guarantees that all eigenvalues of the sandwich chain are dominated by the corresponding eigenvalues of the Gibbs sampling chain (with at least one strict domination). Our results demonstrate that a minor change in the structure of a Markov chain can lead to fundamental changes in its theoretical properties. We illustrate the improvement in efficiency resulting from our proposed Markov chains using simulated and real examples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-323
Number of pages17
JournalScandinavian Journal of Statistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian shrinkage
  • double Pareto prior
  • geometric ergodicity
  • sandwich algorithm
  • trace class operator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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