Sequential Bayesian optimal experimental design via approximate dynamic programming

The design of multiple experiments is commonly undertaken via suboptimal strategies, such as batch (open-loop) design that omits feedback or greedy (myopic) design that does not account for future effects. This paper introduces new strategies for the optimal design of sequential experiments. First, we rigorously formulate the general sequential optimal experimental design (sOED) problem as a dynamic program. Batch and greedy designs are shown to result from special cases of this formulation. We then focus on sOED for parameter inference, adopting a Bayesian formulation with an information theoretic design objective. To make the problem tractable, we develop new numerical approaches for nonlinear design with continuous parameter, design, and observation spaces. We approximate the optimal policy by using backward induction with regression to construct and refine value function approximations in the dynamic program. The proposed algorithm iteratively generates trajectories via exploration and exploitation to improve approximation accuracy in frequently visited regions of the state space. Numerical results are verified against analytical solutions in a linear-Gaussian setting. Advantages over batch and greedy design are then demonstrated on a nonlinear source inversion problem where we seek an optimal policy for sequential sensing.

Comments: Preprint 34 pages, 12 figures (36 small figures). v1 submitted to the SIAM/ASA Journal on Uncertainty Quantification on April 27, 2016

Similar Publications

Recent advances in bioinformatics have made high-throughput microbiome data widely available, and new statistical tools are required to maximize the information gained from these data. For example, analysis of high-dimensional microbiome data from designed experiments remains an open area in microbiome research. Contemporary analyses work on metrics that summarize collective properties of the microbiome, but such reductions preclude inference on the fine-scale effects of environmental stimuli on individual microbial taxa. Read More

In social and economic studies many of the collected variables are measured on a nominal scale, often with a large number of categories. The definition of categories is usually not unambiguous and different classification schemes using either a finer or a coarser grid are possible. Categorisation has an impact when such a variable is included as covariate in a regression model: a too fine grid will result in imprecise estimates of the corresponding effects, whereas with a too coarse grid important effects will be missed, resulting in biased effect estimates and poor predictive performance. Read More

Thermodynamic integration (TI) for computing marginal likelihoods is based on an inverse annealing path from the prior to the posterior distribution. In many cases, the resulting estimator suffers from high variability, which particularly stems from the prior regime. When comparing complex models with differences in a comparatively small number of parameters, intrinsic errors from sampling fluctuations may outweigh the differences in the log marginal likelihood estimates. Read More

Sufficient dimension reduction (SDR) is continuing an active research field nowadays for high dimensional data. It aims to estimate the central subspace (CS) without making distributional assumption. To overcome the large-$p$-small-$n$ problem we propose a new approach for SDR. Read More

It is generally accepted that all models are wrong -- the difficulty is determining which are useful. Here, a useful model is considered as one that is capable of combining data and expert knowledge, through an inversion or calibration process, to adequately characterize the uncertainty in predictions of interest. This paper derives conditions that specify which simplified models are useful and how they should be calibrated. Read More

Variational inference methods for latent variable statistical models have gained popularity because they are relatively fast, can handle large data sets, and have deterministic convergence guarantees. However, in practice it is unclear whether the fixed point identified by the variational inference algorithm is a local or a global optimum. Here, we propose a method for constructing iterative optimization algorithms for variational inference problems that are guaranteed to converge to the $\epsilon$-global variational lower bound on the log-likelihood. Read More

The problems of computational data processing involving regression, interpolation, reconstruction and imputation for multidimensional big datasets are becoming more important these days, because of the availability of data and their widely spread usage in business, technological, scientific and other applications. The existing methods often have limitations, which either do not allow, or make it difficult to accomplish many data processing tasks. The problems usually relate to algorithm accuracy, applicability, performance (computational and algorithmic), demands for computational resources, both in terms of power and memory, and difficulty working with high dimensions. Read More

Conditional density estimation (density regression) estimates the distribution of a response variable y conditional on covariates x. Utilizing a partition model framework, a conditional density estimation method is proposed using logistic Gaussian processes. The partition is created using a Voronoi tessellation and is learned from the data using a reversible jump Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm. Read More

The popularity of online surveys has increased the prominence of sampling weights in claims of representativeness. Yet, much uncertainty remains regarding how these weights should be employed in the analysis of survey experiments: Should they be used or ignored? If they are used, which estimators are preferred? We offer practical advice, rooted in the Neyman-Rubin model, for researchers producing and working with survey experimental data. We examine simple, efficient estimators (Horvitz-Thompson, H\`ajek, "double-H\`ajek", and post-stratification) for analyzing these data, along with formulae for biases and variances. Read More

Many application domains such as ecology or genomics have to deal with multivariate non Gaussian observations. A typical example is the joint observation of the respective abundances of a set of species in a series of sites, aiming to understand the co-variations between these species. The Gaussian setting provides a canonical way to model such dependencies, but does not apply in general. Read More