Projected sequential Gaussian processes: a C++ tool for interpolation of large datasets with heterogeneous noise

Remi Barillec*, Ben Ingram, Dan Cornford, Lehel Csató

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heterogeneous datasets arise naturally in most applications due to the use of a variety of sensors and measuring platforms. Such datasets can be heterogeneous in terms of the error characteristics and sensor models. Treating such data is most naturally accomplished using a Bayesian or model-based geostatistical approach; however, such methods generally scale rather badly with the size of dataset, and require computationally expensive Monte Carlo based inference. Recently within the machine learning and spatial statistics communities many papers have explored the potential of reduced rank representations of the covariance matrix, often referred to as projected or fixed rank approaches. In such methods the covariance function of the posterior process is represented by a reduced rank approximation which is chosen such that there is minimal information loss. In this paper a sequential Bayesian framework for inference in such projected processes is presented. The observations are considered one at a time which avoids the need for high dimensional integrals typically required in a Bayesian approach. A C++ library, gptk, which is part of the INTAMAP web service, is introduced which implements projected, sequential estimation and adds several novel features. In particular the library includes the ability to use a generic observation operator, or sensor model, to permit data fusion. It is also possible to cope with a range of observation error characteristics, including non-Gaussian observation errors. Inference for the covariance parameters is explored, including the impact of the projected process approximation on likelihood profiles. We illustrate the projected sequential method in application to synthetic and real datasets. Limitations and extensions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-309
Number of pages15
JournalComputers and Geosciences
Issue number3
Early online date4 Aug 2010
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • heterogeneous data
  • low-rank approximations
  • sensor fusion


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