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Concept# Stochastic

Summary

Stochastic (stəˈkæstɪk; ) refers to the property of being well described by a random probability distribution. Although stochasticity and randomness are distinct in that the former refers to a modeling approach and the latter refers to phenomena themselves, these two terms are often used synonymously. Furthermore, in probability theory, the formal concept of a stochastic process is also referred to as a random process.
Stochasticity is used in many different fields, including the natural sciences such as biology, chemistry, ecology, neuroscience, and physics, as well as technology and engineering fields such as , signal processing, information theory, computer science, cryptography, and telecommunications. It is also used in finance, due to seemingly random changes in financial markets as well as in medicine, linguistics, music, media, colour theory, botany, manufacturing, and geomorphology.
Etymology
The word stochastic in English was origin

Official source

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Introduction of optimisation problems in which the objective function is black box or obtaining the gradient is infeasible, has recently raised interest in zeroth-order optimisation methods. As an example finding adversarial examples for Deep Learning models (Chen et al. (2017); Moosavi-Dezfooli et al. (2016)) is one of the most common applications in which zeroth-order methods could be used. These optimisation methods use only function values at certain points to estimate the gradient. Most current approaches iteratively sample a random search direction along which they compute an estimation of the gradient (Nesterov and Spokoiny (2017); Conn et al. (2009); Wibisono et al. (2012)). However, due to the high variance in the search direction, these methods usually need d times more iterations than the standard gradient methods, where d is the dimensionality of the problem. So it seems that the main effort for improving the zeroth-order methods should be in reducing the variance of the gradient estimate. In this work we will analyse the gradient-free oracle which uses random directions sampled form a Gaussian distribution. Our analysis shows that in smooth and strongly convex setting, we have a convergence rate of O( d/T) which clearly shows the dependency to the dimension of the problem. Furthermore we propose some variance reduction methods to make the zeroth-order optimisation faster. We experiment our proposed methods in Python to compare their convergence in stochastic and non-stochastic setting. Our empirical results show that in a setting that number of allowed function evaluation is fixed, using a variance reduction method (e.g. momentum) can make the convergence of zeroth-order methods happen faster.

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In this thesis we investigate different ways of approximating the solution of the chemical master equation (CME). The CME is a system of differential equations that models the stochastic transient behaviour of biochemical reaction networks. It does so by describing the time evolution of probability distribution over the states of a Markov chain that represents a biological network, and thus its stochasticity is only implicit. The transient solution of a CME is the vector of probabilities over the states of the corresponding Markov chain at a certain time point t, and it has traditionally been obtained by applying methods that are general to continuous-time Markov chains: uniformization, Krylov subspace methods, and general ordinary differential equation (ODE) solvers such as the fourth order Runge-Kutta method. Even though biochemical reaction networks are the main application of our work, some of our results are presented in the more general framework of propagation models (PM), a computational formalism that we introduce in the first part of this thesis. Each propagation model N has two associated propagation processes, one in discrete-time and a second one in continuous-time. These propagation processes propagate a generic mass through a discrete state space. For example, in order to model a CME, N propagates probability mass. In the discrete-time case the propagation is done step-wise, while in the continuous-time case it is done in a continuous flow defined by a differential equation. Again, in the case of the chemical master equation, this differential equation is the equivalent of the chemical master equation itself where probability mass is propagated through a discrete state space. Discrete-time propagation processes can encode methods such as the uniformization method and the fourth order Runge-Kutta integration method that we have mentioned above, and thus by optimizing propagation algorithms we optimize both of these methods simultaneously. In the second part of our thesis, we define stochastic hybrid models that approximate the stochastic behaviour of biochemical reaction networks by treating some variables of the system deterministically. This deterministic approximation is done for species with large populations, for which stochasticity does not play an important role. We propose three such hybrid models, which we introduce from the coarsest to the most refined one: (i) the first one replaces some variables of the system with their overall expectations, (ii) the second one replaces some variables of the system with their expectations conditioned on the values of the stochastic variables, (iii) and finally, the third one, splits each variable into a stochastic part (for low valuations) and a deterministic part (for high valuations), while tracking the conditional expectation of the deterministic part. For each of these algorithms we give the corresponding propagation models that propagate not only probabilities but also the respective continuous approximations for the deterministic variables.

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We present the first accelerated randomized algorithm for solving linear systems in Euclidean spaces. One essential problem of this type is the matrix inversion problem. In particular, our algorithm can be specialized to invert positive definite matrices in such a way that all iterates (approximate solutions) generated by the algorithm are positive definite matrices themselves. This opens the way for many applications in the field of optimization and machine learning. As an application of our general theory, we develop the first accelerated (deterministic and stochastic) quasi-Newton updates. Our updates lead to provably more aggressive approximations of the inverse Hessian, and lead to speed-ups over classical non-accelerated rules in numerical experiments. Experiments with empirical risk minimization show that our rules can accelerate training of machine learning models.