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Data from: Using parsimony-guided tree proposals to accelerate convergence in Bayesian phylogenetic inference


Zhang, Chi; Huelsenbeck, John; Ronquist, Fredrik (2020), Data from: Using parsimony-guided tree proposals to accelerate convergence in Bayesian phylogenetic inference, Dryad, Dataset,


Sampling across tree space is one of the major challenges in Bayesian phylogenetic inference using Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms. Standard MCMC tree moves consider small random perturbations of the topology, and select from candidate trees at random or based on the distance between the old and new topologies. MCMC algorithms using such moves tend to get trapped in tree space, making them slow in finding the globally most probable trees (known as `convergence') and in estimating the correct proportions of the different types of them (known as `mixing'). Here, we introduce a new class of moves, which propose trees based on their parsimony scores. The proposal distribution derived from the parsimony scores is a quickly computable albeit rough approximation of the conditional posterior distribution over candidate trees. We demonstrate with simulations that parsimony-guided moves correctly sample the uniform distribution of topologies from the prior. We then evaluate their performance against standard moves using six challenging empirical datasets, for which we were able to obtain accurate reference estimates of the posterior using long MCMC runs, a mix of topology proposals, and Metropolis coupling. On these datasets, ranging in size from 357 to 934 taxa and from 1,740 to 5,681 sites, we find that single chains using parsimony-guided moves usually converge an order of magnitude faster than chains using standard moves. They also exhibit better mixing, that is, they cover the most probable trees more quickly. Our results show that tree moves based on quick and dirty estimates of the posterior probability can significantly outperform standard moves. Future research will have to show to what extent the performance of such moves can be improved further by finding better ways of approximating the posterior probability, taking the trade-off between accuracy and speed into account.

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Swedish Research Council, Award: 2014-05901

100 Young Talents Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences

Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Award: XDB26000000

Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing, Award: SNIC 2014/1-323,SNIC 2015/1-394