A paper submitted to ESOP 2023 (the European Symposium on Programming) has won this year’s EAPLS Award! (European Association for Programming Languages and Systems)
The paper “Automatic Alignment in Higher-Order Probabilistic Programming Languages“, authored by recently graduated TECoSA PhD student Daniel Lundén (with co-authors Gizem Çaylak, Fredrik Ronquist and TECoSA PI David Broman) received the award as the best ETAPS paper on programming languages and systems.
The abstract is given below, and you can find the full paper here: https://lnkd.in/duKxu2BW
ABSTRACT: Probabilistic Programming Languages (PPLs) allow users to encode statistical inference problems and automatically apply an inference algorithm to solve them. Popular inference algorithms for PPLs, such as sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) and Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC), are built around checkpoints—relevant events for the inference algorithm during the execution of a probabilistic program. Deciding the location of checkpoints is, in current PPLs, not done optimally. To solve this problem, we present a static analysis technique that automatically determines checkpoints in programs, relieving PPL users of this task. The analysis identifies a set of checkpoints that execute in the same order in every program run—they are aligned. We formalize alignment, prove the correctness of the analysis, and implement the analysis as part of the higher-order functional PPL Miking CorePPL. By utilizing the alignment analysis, we design two novel inference algorithm variants: aligned SMC and aligned lightweight MCMC. We show, through real-world experiments, that they significantly improve inference execution time and accuracy compared to standard PPL versions of SMC and MCMC.