Approximate Bayesian techniques for inference in stochastic dynamical systems

  • Michail D. Vrettas

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis is concerned with approximate inference in dynamical systems, from a variational Bayesian perspective. When modelling real world dynamical systems, stochastic differential equations appear as a natural choice, mainly because of their ability to model the noise of the system by adding a variant of some stochastic process to the deterministic dynamics. Hence, inference in such processes has drawn much attention. Here two new extended frameworks are derived and presented that are based on basis function expansions and local polynomial approximations of a recently proposed variational Bayesian algorithm. It is shown that the new extensions converge to the original variational algorithm and can be used for state estimation (smoothing). However, the main focus is on estimating the (hyper-) parameters of these systems (i.e. drift parameters and diffusion coefficients). The new methods are numerically validated on a range of different systems which vary in dimensionality and non-linearity. These are the Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process, for which the exact likelihood can be computed analytically, the univariate and highly non-linear, stochastic double well and the multivariate chaotic stochastic Lorenz '63 (3-dimensional model). The algorithms are also applied to the 40 dimensional stochastic Lorenz '96 system. In this investigation these new approaches are compared with a variety of other well known methods such as the ensemble Kalman filter / smoother, a hybrid Monte Carlo sampler, the dual unscented Kalman filter (for jointly estimating the systems states and model parameters) and full weak-constraint 4D-Var. Empirical analysis of their asymptotic behaviour as a function of observation density or length of time window increases is provided.
    Date of Award2010
    Original languageEnglish


    • Bayesian inference
    • variational techniques
    • dynamical systems
    • stochastic differential equations
    • parameter estimation

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