This example illustrates how you can obtain random samples from a known function. The target distributions are the normal distribution (a standard distribution) and a mixture of the normal distributions (a nonstandard distribution). For more information, see the sections Standard Distributions and Specifying a New Distribution). This example also shows how you can use PROC MCMC to estimate an integral (area under a curve). Monte Carlo simulation is dataindependent; hence, you do not need an input data set from which to draw random samples from the desired distribution.
When you run a simulation without an input data set, the posterior distribution is the same as the prior distribution. Hence, if you want to generate samples from a distribution, you declare the distribution in the PRIOR statement and set the likelihood function to a constant. Although there is no contribution from any data set variable to the likelihood calculation, you still must specify a data set and the MODEL statement needs a distribution. You can input an empty data set and use the GENERAL function to provide a flat likelihood. The following statements generate 10,000 samples from a standard normal distribution:
title 'Simulating Samples from a Normal Density'; data x; run; ods graphics on; proc mcmc data=x outpost=simout seed=23 nmc=10000 statistics=(summary interval) diagnostics=none; ods exclude nobs; parm alpha 0; prior alpha ~ normal(0, sd=1); model general(0); run;
The ODS GRAPHICS ON statement enables ODS Graphics. The PROC MCMC statement specifies the input and output data sets, a random number seed, and the size of the simulation sample. The STATISTICS= option displays only the summary and interval statistics. The ODS EXCLUDE statement excludes the display of the NObs table. PROC MCMC draws independent samples from the normal distribution directly (see Output 55.1.1). Therefore, the simulation does not require any tuning, and PROC MCMC omits the default burnin phrase.
Output 55.1.1: Parameters Information
Simulating Samples from a Normal Density 
Parameters  

Block  Parameter  Sampling Method 
Initial Value 
Prior Distribution 
1  alpha  Direct  0  normal(0, sd=1) 
The summary statistics (Output 55.1.2) are what you would expect from a standard normal distribution.
Output 55.1.2: MCMC Summary and Interval Statistics from a Normal Target Distribution
Simulating Samples from a Normal Density 
Posterior Summaries  

Parameter  N  Mean  Standard Deviation 
Percentiles  
25%  50%  75%  
alpha  10000  0.00195  0.9949  0.6544  0.00965  0.6709 
Posterior Intervals  

Parameter  Alpha  EqualTail Interval  HPD Interval  
alpha  0.050  1.9485  1.9507  1.9664  1.9302 
The trace plot (Output 55.1.3) shows perfect mixing with no autocorrelation in the lag plot. This is expected because these are independent draws.
Output 55.1.3: Diagnostics Plots for
You can overlay the estimated kernel density with the true density to visually compare the densities, as displayed in Output 55.1.4. To create the kernel comparison plot, you first call PROC KDE (see Chapter 48: The KDE Procedure,) to obtain a kernel density estimate of the posterior density on alpha
. Then you evaluate a grid of alpha
values on a normal density. The following statements evaluate kernel density and compute the corresponding normal density:
proc kde data=simout; ods exclude inputs controls; univar alpha /out=sample; run; data den; set sample; alpha = value; true = pdf('normal', alpha, 0, 1); keep alpha density true; run;
Next you plot the two curves on top of each other by using PROC SGPLOT (see Chapter 21: Statistical Graphics Using ODS,) as follows:
proc sgplot data=den; yaxis label="Density"; series y=density x=alpha / legendlabel = "MCMC Kernel"; series y=true x=alpha / legendlabel = "True Density"; discretelegend; run;
Output 55.1.4 shows the result. You can see that the kernel estimate and the true density are very similar to each other.
Output 55.1.4: Estimated Density versus the True Density
In programs that do not involve any data set variables, PROC MCMC samples directly from the (joint) prior distributions of the parameters. The modification makes the sampling from a known distribution more efficient and more precise. For example, you can write simple programs, such as the following macro, to understand different aspects of a prior distribution of interest, such as its moments, intervals, shape, spread, and so on:
%macro density(dist=, seed=0); %let savenote = %sysfunc(getoption(notes)); options nonotes; title "&dist distribution."; data _a; run; ods select densitypanel postsummaries postintervals; proc mcmc data=_a nmc=10000 diag=none nologdist plots=density seed=&seed; parms alpha; prior alpha ~ &dist; model general(0); run; proc datasets nolist; delete _a; run; options &savenote; %mend; %density(dist=beta(4, 12), seed=1);
The macro %density
creates an empty data set, invokes PROC MCMC, draws 10,000 samples from a beta(4, 12) distribution, displays summary and
interval statistics, and generates a kernel density plot. Summary and interval statistics from the beta distribution are displayed
in Output 55.1.5.
Output 55.1.5: Beta Distribution Statistics
beta(4, 12) distribution. 
Posterior Summaries  

Parameter  N  Mean  Standard Deviation 
Percentiles  
25%  50%  75%  
alpha  10000  0.2494  0.1039  0.1731  0.2397  0.3148 
Posterior Intervals  

Parameter  Alpha  EqualTail Interval  HPD Interval  
alpha  0.050  0.0775  0.4800  0.0657  0.4590 
The distribution is displayed in Output 55.1.6.
Output 55.1.6: Density Plot
One advantage of MCMC methods is to estimate any integral under the curve of a target distribution. This can be done fairly easily using the MCMC procedure. Suppose you are interested in estimating the following cumulative probability:

To estimate this integral, PROC MCMC draws samples from the distribution and counts the portion of the simulated values that fall within the desired range of [0, 1.3]. This becomes a Monte Carlo estimate of the integral. The following statements simulate samples from a standard normal distribution and estimate the integral:
proc mcmc data=x outpost=simout seed=23 nmc=10000 nologdist monitor=(int) statistics=(summary) diagnostics=none; ods select postsummaries; parm alpha 0; prior alpha ~ normal(0, sd=1); int = (0 <= alpha <= 1.3); model general(0); run;
The ODS SELECT statement displays the posterior summary statistics table. The MONITOR= option outputs analysis on the variable int
(the integral estimate). The STATISTICS= option computes the summary statistics. The NOLOGDIST option omits the calculation of the log of the prior distribution at each iteration, shortening the simulation time^{[6]}. The INT assignment statement sets int
to be 1 if the simulated alpha
value falls between 0 and 1.3, and 0 otherwise. PROC MCMC supports the usage of the IFELSE logical control if you need to
account for more complex conditions. Output 55.1.7 displays the estimated integral value:
Output 55.1.7: Monte Carlo Integral from a Normal Distribution
beta(4, 12) distribution. 
Posterior Summaries  

Parameter  N  Mean  Standard Deviation 
Percentiles  
25%  50%  75%  
int  10000  0.4079  0.4915  0  0  1.0000 
In this simulation, 4079 samples fall between 0 and 1.3, making the expected probability 0.4079. In this example, you can verify the actual cumulative probability by calling the CDF function in the DATA step:
data _null_; int = cdf("normal", 1.3, 0, 1)  cdf("normal", 0, 0, 1); put int=; run;
The value is 0.4032.
Suppose you are interested in generating samples from a threecomponent mixture of normal distributions, with the density specified as follows:

The distribution is not one of the standard distributions that PROC MCMC supports. Hence you need to construct the density function and supply it to the procedure. The following statements generate random samples from this mixture density:
title 'Simulating Samples from a Mixture of Normal Densities'; data x; run; proc mcmc data=x outpost=simout seed=1234 nmc=30000; ods select TADpanel; parm alpha 0.3; lp = logpdf('normalmix', alpha, 3, 0.3, 0.4, 0.3, 3, 2, 10, 2, 1, 4); prior alpha ~ general(lp); model general(0); run;
The ODS SELECT statement displays the diagnostic plots. All other tables, such as the NObs tables, are excluded. The PROC MCMC statement uses the input data set X
, saves output to the Simout
data set, sets a random number seed, and draws 30,000 samples.
The LP assignment statement evaluates the log density of alpha
at the mixture density, using the SAS function LOGPDF. The number 3 after alpha
in the LOGPDF function indicates that the density is a threecomponent normal mixture. The following three numbers, 0.3,
0.4, and 0.3, are the weights in the mixture; –3, 2, and 10 are the means; 2, 1, and 4 are the standard deviations. The PRIOR statement assigns this log density function to alpha
as its prior. Note that the GENERAL function interprets the density on the log scale, and not the original scale–you must use the LOGPDF function, not the PDF
function. Output 55.1.8 displays the results. The kernel density clearly shows three modes.
Output 55.1.8: Plots of Posterior Samples from a Mixture Normal Distribution
Using the following set of statements similar to the previous example, you can overlay the estimated kernel density with the true density. The comparison is shown in Output 55.1.9.
proc kde data=simout; ods exclude inputs controls; univar alpha /out=sample; run; data den; set sample; alpha = value; true = pdf('normalmix', alpha, 3, 0.3, 0.4, 0.3, 3, 2, 10, 2, 1, 4); keep alpha density true; run; proc sgplot data=den; yaxis label="Density"; series y=density x=alpha / legendlabel = "MCMC Kernel"; series y=true x=alpha / legendlabel = "True Density"; discretelegend; run;
Output 55.1.9: Estimated Density versus the True Density