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  1. Summary

    In the classical biased sampling problem, we have k densities π1(·), …,πk(·), each known up to a normalizing constant, i.e., for l = 1, …,k, πl(·)=νl(·)/ml, where νl(·) is a known function and ml is an unknown constant. For each l, we have an independent and identically distributed sample from πl, and the problem is to estimate the ratios ml/ms for all l and all s. This problem arises frequently in several situations in both frequentist and Bayesian inference. An estimate of the ratios was developed and studied by Vardi and his co-workers over two decades ago, and there has been much subsequent work on this problem from many perspectives. In spite of this, there are no rigorous results in the literature on how to estimate the standard error of the estimate. We present a class of estimates of the ratios of normalizing constants that are appropriate for the case where the samples from the πls are not necessarily independent and identically distributed sequences but are Markov chains. We also develop an approach based on regenerative simulation for obtaining standard errors for the estimates of ratios of normalizing constants. These standard error estimates are valid for both the independent and identically distributed samples case and the Markov chain case.

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