# Can this sampling code be vectorized or optimized?

I have some code that is slow because it loops over every row in an input matrix Y. Obviously, this code does not scale with the number of rows. I don't think it's critical to understand what the code does, but for the curious, it is a Gibbs sampling step for sampling the dispersion parameter r for the negative binomial distribution.

Is there anything I can do to make this faster? I've tried for y in Y_j[Y_j > 0] in the crt_sum function, but that's not actually faster according to a simple speed test. I suspect because in many cases, the code loops over every row in the Y_jth column of Y in C and then does it again in Python.

import numpy as np

def sample_r(Y, P, R, e0=1e-2, f0=1e-2):
"""Sample negative binomial dispersion parameter r based on
(Zhou 2020). See:

- http://people.ee.duke.edu/~mz1/Papers/Mingyuan_NBP_NIPS2012.pdf
- https://mingyuanzhou.github.io/Softwares/LGNB_Regression_v0.zip
"""
J = Y.shape
for j in range(J):
L = crt_sum(Y, R, j)
A = e0 + L
# maximum is element-wise, while max is not.
maxes = np.maximum(1 - P[:, j], -np.inf)
B = 1. / (f0 - np.sum(np.log(maxes)))
R[j] = np.random.gamma(A, B)
# R cannot be zero.
inds = np.isclose(R, 0)
R[inds] = 0.0000001
return R

def crt_sum(Y, R, j):
"""Sum independent Chinese restaurant table random variables.
"""
Y_j = Y[:, j]
r   = R[j]
L   = 0
tbl = r / (r + np.arange(Y_j.max()))
for y in Y_j:
if y > 0:
u = np.random.uniform(0, 1, size=y)
inds = np.arange(y)
L += (u <= tbl[inds]).sum()
return L


Synthetic data should be sufficient. Basically, Y is a matrix of count data (non-negative integers), P is a matrix of numbers in the range [0, 1], and R is a matrix of positive (nonzero) real numbers. This should be sufficient to generate realistic data:

def sigmoid(x):
return 1 / (1 + np.exp(-x))

N = 100
J = 10
Y = np.arange(N*J).reshape(N, J)
P = sigmoid(np.random.random((N, J)))
R = np.arange(J, dtype=float)+1

sample_r(Y, P, R)


I currently don't have any tests (sorry, lonely researcher code), but assuming my implementation is correct, this should pass

assert(sample_r(Y, P, R) == sample_r_fast(Y, P, R))


where sample_r_fast a faster implementation. Thanks in advance.

• Do you have any unit tests or sample data for us? – Reinderien Mar 20 at 19:54
• I don't have any tests. Assuming my current implementation is correct, is assert(sample_r(Y, P, R) == sample_r_fast(Y, P, R)) sufficient? I also initialized some sample data at the bottom. Do you want real data? – gwg Mar 20 at 19:57
• I guess synthetic data are sufficient, but a unit test would really help - you should edit the question to include that assert. – Reinderien Mar 20 at 19:58
• Okay, I've edited the question to contain details about synthetic data and that assert. – gwg Mar 20 at 20:06
• there is likely a bug in your code. the example returns integers np.int32 because you replace values in R which has been generated using arange; yet, gamma is a real valued function. Is this intended? – FirefoxMetzger Mar 29 at 13:48

Yes, it is possible to vectorize the code. Does that make it faster? That depends on the spread of values in your data Y.

Computing the scale parameter can be vectorized without issues and should be faster.

For the shape parameter - I haven't read the papers - you seem to use something that looks quite similar to rejection sampling. You compute a probability distribution tbl over NxJ, then draw Y[n, j] many samples from a uniform distribution and check how often you land within tbl[n,j]. shape is then the sum of "hits" along N.

The naive approach to vectorizing this would be to draw the same amount of samples for each Y[n, j]. In this case at least max(Y) many. This can create a lot of overhead if your data has a few really large values but otherwise small ones. If the values are fairly close together, this will make things faster. If you have a way to quickly (pre-)generate large quantities of uniform numbers this limitation doesn't matter.

Here is the code:

def sample_r_vec(Y, P, R, e0=1e-2, f0=1e-2, random_numbers=None):
"""Sample negative binomial dispersion parameter r based on
(Zhou 2020). See:

- http://people.ee.duke.edu/~mz1/Papers/Mingyuan_NBP_NIPS2012.pdf
- https://mingyuanzhou.github.io/Softwares/LGNB_Regression_v0.zip
"""

if random_numbers is None:
random_numbers = np.random.uniform(0, 1, size=(*Y.shape, np.max(Y) + 1))

# compute shape
Y_max_vec = np.arange(np.max(Y) + 1).reshape((-1, 1))
R_vec = R.reshape((1, -1))
tbl = (R_vec / (R_vec + Y_max_vec))
tbl = tbl.reshape((*tbl.shape, 1))
N_vec = np.arange(Y.shape).reshape(-1, 1)
J_vec = np.arange(Y.shape).reshape(1, -1)
sum_hits = np.cumsum(random_numbers <= tbl.T, axis=2)[N_vec, J_vec, Y - 1]
sum_hits[Y == 0] = 0
shape = e0 + np.sum(sum_hits, axis=0)

# compute scale
maxes = np.maximum(1 - P, -np.inf)
scale = 1. / (f0 - np.sum(np.log(maxes), axis=0))

# sample
R = np.random.gamma(shape, scale)
R[R < 1e-7] = 1e-7
return R


Edit: Based on the comment, I did find a different bug that is now fixed.

Edit: Demonstration that both versions perform equally.

Firstly, we need a different test to assert equality of the code; try assert(sample_r(Y, P, R) == sample_r(Y, P, R)) and you will quickly see the problem. There are many reasons why a different test is needed: (1) sample_r and sample_r_fast return vectors and not scalars. The truth value of a vector is undefined (numpy also warns for that). (2) your code (sample_r) modifies R in place, which means that the input to sample_r_fast will be different to the input of sample_r. Logically, the outputs will differ due to the unwanted side effect. (3) Both functions are expected to create random samples and compute results based on that. assert tests for exact equality and will hence fail even if both versions are correct. Providing the same random seed won't be enough either, because the order in which the samples are used may differ, which will change the results. (4) This is a numerics problem; even in the deterministic part of the code it is only accurate up to a tolerance. (5) The code estimates parameters for a distribution and then samples once from the estimated distribution; these samples are then compared. If we want to know whether or not the two versions estimate the same distributions it seems much more efficient to directly compare the parameters.

To fix all of this, I modified the code in the following way:

1. Added an optional parameter to the function that can be used as random numbers; generate them if none.
2. Made sure the same random numbers are used for comparisons each time.
3. Removed the sampling of R at the end and instead return the estimated shape and scale directly.
4. It is also nice to test if the new code is actually faster, so I added a speed test (excluding RNG).

My full script looks like this:

import numpy as np

def sample_r(Y, P, R, e0=1e-2, f0=1e-2, random_numbers=None):
"""Sample negative binomial dispersion parameter r based on
(Zhou 2020). See:

- http://people.ee.duke.edu/~mz1/Papers/Mingyuan_NBP_NIPS2012.pdf
- https://mingyuanzhou.github.io/Softwares/LGNB_Regression_v0.zip
"""

if random_numbers is None:
random_numbers = np.random.uniform(0, 1, size=(*Y.shape, np.max(Y) + 1))

A_vec = np.zeros_like(R)
B_vec = np.zeros_like(R)
J = Y.shape
for j in range(J):
L = crt_sum(Y, R, j, random_numbers)
A = e0 + L
A_vec[j] = A

# maximum is element-wise, while max is not.
maxes = np.maximum(1 - P[:, j], -np.inf)
B = 1. / (f0 - np.sum(np.log(maxes)))
B_vec[j] = B

# R[j] = np.random.gamma(A, B)
# R cannot be zero.
# inds = np.isclose(R, 0)
# R[inds] = 0.0000001
return A_vec, B_vec

def crt_sum(Y, R, j, random_numbers):
"""Sum independent Chinese restaurant table random variables.
"""

Y_j = Y[:, j]
r   = R[j]
L   = 0
tbl = r / (r + np.arange(Y_j.max()))
for n_idx, y in enumerate(Y_j):
if y > 0:
relevant_numbers = random_numbers[n_idx, j, :y]
inds = np.arange(y)
L += (relevant_numbers <= tbl[inds]).sum()
return L

def sample_r_vec(Y, P, R, e0=1e-2, f0=1e-2, random_numbers=None):
"""Sample negative binomial dispersion parameter r based on
(Zhou 2020). See:

- http://people.ee.duke.edu/~mz1/Papers/Mingyuan_NBP_NIPS2012.pdf
- https://mingyuanzhou.github.io/Softwares/LGNB_Regression_v0.zip
"""

if random_numbers is None:
random_numbers = np.random.uniform(0, 1, size=(*Y.shape, np.max(Y) + 1))

# compute shape
Y_max_vec = np.arange(np.max(Y) + 1).reshape((-1, 1))
R_vec = R.reshape((1, -1))
tbl = (R_vec / (R_vec + Y_max_vec))
tbl = tbl.reshape((*tbl.shape, 1))
N_vec = np.arange(Y.shape).reshape(-1, 1)
J_vec = np.arange(Y.shape).reshape(1, -1)
sum_hits = np.cumsum(random_numbers <= tbl.T, axis=2)[N_vec, J_vec, Y - 1]
sum_hits[Y == 0] = 0
shape = e0 + np.sum(sum_hits, axis=0)

# compute scale
maxes = np.maximum(1 - P, -np.inf)
scale = 1. / (f0 - np.sum(np.log(maxes), axis=0))

return shape, scale

if __name__ == "__main__":
def sigmoid(x):
return 1 / (1 + np.exp(-x))

np.random.seed(1337)

N = 100
J = 10
Y = np.arange(N*J, dtype=np.int32).reshape(N, J)
P = sigmoid(np.random.random((N, J)))
# use test case from comments
R = np.ones(J, dtype=np.float32); R[J-1] = 5000
random_numbers = np.random.uniform(0, 1, size=(*Y.shape, np.max(Y) + 1))

shape_normal, scale_normal = sample_r(Y.copy(), P.copy(), R.copy(), random_numbers=random_numbers)
shape_vec, scale_vec = sample_r_vec(Y.copy(), P.copy(), R.copy(), random_numbers=random_numbers)

assert np.all(np.isclose(scale_normal, scale_vec))
assert np.all(np.isclose(shape_normal, shape_vec))

#speed test
import timeit
t1 = timeit.timeit(lambda: sample_r(Y.copy(), P.copy(), R.copy(), random_numbers=random_numbers), number=100)
t2 = timeit.timeit(lambda: sample_r_vec(Y.copy(), P.copy(), R.copy(), random_numbers=random_numbers), number=100)
print(f"Original version total time {t1:.2f}. Vector Version total time {t2:.2f}.")

N = 1000
J = 10
Y = 100*np.ones(N*J, dtype=np.int32).reshape(N, J)
P = sigmoid(np.random.random((N, J)))
R = np.arange(J)+1
random_numbers = np.random.uniform(0, 1, size=(*Y.shape, np.max(Y) + 1))
t1 = timeit.timeit(lambda: sample_r(Y.copy(), P.copy(), R.copy(), random_numbers=random_numbers), number=100)
t2 = timeit.timeit(lambda: sample_r_vec(Y.copy(), P.copy(), R.copy(), random_numbers=random_numbers), number=100)
print(f"Original version total time {t1:.2f}. Vector Version total time {t2:.2f}.")


Note that this now has a python 3.7+ dependency due to format strings in the functional test, the relevant code does not have that dependency.

Output:

Original version total time 1.29. Vector Version total time 1.05.
Original version total time 8.55. Vector Version total time 0.98.


I did the following modifications to your code: To return the estimated parameters, I am stacking them up in a vector as they are being computed. To deal with the random sampling, I generate a whole bunch of random numbers (Y.max() many) for each Y[n, j], and then select the first y=Y[n,j] of them. This is the same idea I used to vectorize the code; it 'wastes' Y.max() - Y[n, j] many random samples at each step, because the code generates them but then doesn't use them; it's a trick to match the shapes for vectorization. This is the main reason why the vectorized version will only be faster if you either (1) pre-generate the random numbers, or (2) have a situation where the different Y[n, j] don't differ too much, so that generating the 'waste' doesn't take more time than is saved by hardware acceleration.

I hope this explains what is going on.

PS: Please, please use informative variable names for code in the future. L,n,j,A,B, ect. are not wise choices if others are to read your code or if you try to understand it 3 years from now.

• +1 because this is close; however the code has a bug. Note that we do not compute Y.max() but rather Y[:, j].max(). Hence, random_numbers is wrong, tbl is wrong, etc. This is actually the main thing I don't know how to vectorize, since it would result in arrays with inconsistently sized rows. The reason your code approximates mine is that in the toy data, all the largest values are in the last row. This means that each column has approximately the same value for Y[:, j].max(). Try this pathological case to see the approximation error grow: R = np.ones(J); R[J-1] = 5000. – gwg Mar 30 at 21:00
• @gwg I probably didn't explain my idea well. I can start by computing tbl = r / (r + np.arange(Y[:, j].max())) which is an array of length Y[:, j]. Note that np.arange(Y.max())[:Y[:,j]] == np.arange(Y[:,j]) (note the leading :). The values after Y[:,j] are unused padding to make the shapes match across j. As long as I don't access the padding, that is okay. Same idea for random_numbers. If the comment is not clear, I will elaborate in the answer. I will also check for other bugs to see why the results differ. – FirefoxMetzger Mar 31 at 3:59
• I didn't get a notification for your edit, but it looks great. Thank you. I haven't had time to verify it yet—this is an active research project with a lot of moving parts—but I'll accept it so I don't forget. You're correct that the assert(...) was conceptual, not a real test. I'll test using np.isclose and by verifying that model learns the R parameter in a controlled setting. – gwg Apr 7 at 14:48
• @gwg for such a controlled setting, you can check the second half of my answer :) – FirefoxMetzger Apr 7 at 15:36