Chris Oates, Jon Cockayne, Dennis Prangle, Mark Girolami, and I have just uploaded a preprint of our paper “Optimality criteria for probabilistic numerical methods” to the arXiv.
Abstract. It is well understood that Bayesian decision theory and average case analysis are essentially identical. However, if one is interested in performing uncertainty quantification for a numerical task, it can be argued that the decision-theoretic framework is neither appropriate nor sufficient. To this end, we consider an alternative optimality criterion from Bayesian experimental design and study its implied optimal information in the numerical context. This information is demonstrated to differ, in general, from the information that would be used in an average-case-optimal numerical method. The explicit connection to Bayesian experimental design suggests several distinct regimes in which optimal probabilistic numerical methods can be developed.
Jon Cockayne, Chris Oates, Mark Girolami and I have just uploaded a preprint of our latest paper, “Bayesian probabilistic numerical methods” to the arXiv. Following on from our earlier work “Probabilistic meshless methods for partial differential equations and Bayesian inverse problems”, our aim is to provide some rigorous theoretical underpinnings for the emerging field of probabilistic numerics, and in particular to define what it means for such a method to be “Bayesian”, by connecting with the established theories of Bayesian inversion and disintegration of measures.
Abstract. The emergent field of probabilistic numerics has thus far lacked rigorous statistical principals. This paper establishes Bayesian probabilistic numerical methods as those which can be cast as solutions to certain Bayesian inverse problems, albeit problems that are non-standard. This allows us to establish general conditions under which Bayesian probabilistic numerical methods are well-defined, encompassing both non-linear and non-Gaussian models. For general computation, a numerical approximation scheme is developed and its asymptotic convergence is established. The theoretical development is then extended to pipelines of computation, wherein probabilistic numerical methods are composed to solve more challenging numerical tasks. The contribution highlights an important research frontier at the interface of numerical analysis and uncertainty quantification, with some illustrative applications presented.
Jon Cockayne, Chris Oates, Mark Girolami and I have just uploaded a preprint of our latest paper, “Probabilistic numerical methods for PDE-constrained Bayesian inverse problems” to the arXiv. This paper is intended to complement our earlier work “Probabilistic meshless methods for partial differential equations and Bayesian inverse problems” and to give a more concise presentation of the main ideas, aimed at a general audience.
Last Friday 8 July 2016, as part of this year's Turing Lectures on The Intersection of Mathematics, Statistics and Computation, Mark Girolami gave a lecture on “Probabilistic Numerical Computation: A New Concept?”, containing some of our joint work on probabilistic numerics. The video can be found on the Alan Turing Institute's Youtube channel.
Jon Cockayne, Chris Oates, Mark Girolami and I have just uploaded a preprint of our latest paper, “Probabilistic meshless methods for partial differential equations and Bayesian inverse problems” to the arXiv. This paper forms part of the push for probabilistic numerics in scientific computing.
Abstract. This paper develops a class of meshless methods that are well-suited to statistical inverse problems involving partial differential equations (PDEs). The methods discussed in this paper view the forcing term in the PDE as a random field that induces a probability distribution over the residual error of a symmetric collocation method. This construction enables the solution of challenging inverse problems while accounting, in a rigorous way, for the impact of the discretisation of the forward problem. In particular, this confers robustness to failure of meshless methods, with statistical inferences driven to be more conservative in the presence of significant solver error. In addition, (i) a principled learning-theoretic approach to minimise the impact of solver error is developed, and (ii) the challenging setting of inverse problems with a non-linear forward model is considered. The method is applied to parameter inference problems in which non-negligible solver error must be accounted for in order to draw valid statistical conclusions.