Nested sampling with plateaus

Andrew Fowlie*, Will Handley, Liangliang Su

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


It was recently emphasized that in the presence of plateaus in the likelihood function nested sampling (NS) produces faulty estimates of the evidence and posterior densities. After informally explaining the cause of the problem, we present a modified version of NS that handles plateaus and can be applied retrospectively to NS runs from popular NS software using anesthetic. In the modified NS, live points in a plateau are evicted one by one without replacement, with ordinary NS compression of the prior volume after each eviction but taking into account the dynamic number of live points. The live points are replenished once all points in the plateau are removed. We demonstrate it on a number of examples. Since the modification is simple, we propose that it becomes the canonical version of Skilling's NS algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1199-1205
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • methods: data analysis
  • methods: numerical
  • methods: statistical


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