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Variational Gaussian Process State-Space Models

Neural Information Processing Systems

State-space models have been successfully used for more than fifty years in different areas of science and engineering. We present a procedure for efficient variational Bayesian learning of nonlinear state-space models based on sparse Gaussian processes. The result of learning is a tractable posterior over nonlinear dynamical systems. In comparison to conventional parametric models, we offer the possibility to straightforwardly trade off model capacity and computational cost whilst avoiding overfitting. Our main algorithm uses a hybrid inference approach combining variational Bayes and sequential Monte Carlo. We also present stochastic variational inference and online learning approaches for fast learning with long time series.


Non-Factorised Variational Inference in Dynamical Systems

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We focus on variational inference in dynamical systems where the discrete time transition function (or evolution rule) is modelled by a Gaussian process. The dominant approach so far has been to use a factorised posterior distribution, decoupling the transition function from the system states. This is not exact in general and can lead to an overconfident posterior over the transition function as well as an overestimation of the intrinsic stochasticity of the system (process noise). We propose a new method that addresses these issues and incurs no additional computational costs.


Closed-form Inference and Prediction in Gaussian Process State-Space Models

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We examine an analytic variational inference scheme for the Gaussian Process State Space Model (GPSSM) - a probabilistic model for system identification and time-series modelling. Our approach performs variational inference over both the system states and the transition function. We exploit Markov structure in the true posterior, as well as an inducing point approximation to achieve linear time complexity in the length of the time series. Contrary to previous approaches, no Monte Carlo sampling is required: inference is cast as a deterministic optimisation problem. In a number of experiments, we demonstrate the ability to model non-linear dynamics in the presence of both process and observation noise as well as to impute missing information (e.g. velocities from raw positions through time), to de-noise, and to estimate the underlying dimensionality of the system. Finally, we also introduce a closed-form method for multi-step prediction, and a novel criterion for assessing the quality of our approximate posterior.


Bayesian Inference and Learning in Gaussian Process State-Space Models with Particle MCMC

arXiv.org Machine Learning

State-space models are successfully used in many areas of science, engineering and economics to model time series and dynamical systems. We present a fully Bayesian approach to inference \emph{and learning} (i.e. state estimation and system identification) in nonlinear nonparametric state-space models. We place a Gaussian process prior over the state transition dynamics, resulting in a flexible model able to capture complex dynamical phenomena. To enable efficient inference, we marginalize over the transition dynamics function and infer directly the joint smoothing distribution using specially tailored Particle Markov Chain Monte Carlo samplers. Once a sample from the smoothing distribution is computed, the state transition predictive distribution can be formulated analytically. Our approach preserves the full nonparametric expressivity of the model and can make use of sparse Gaussian processes to greatly reduce computational complexity.


Variational Gaussian Process State-Space Models

Neural Information Processing Systems

State-space models have been successfully used for more than fifty years in different areas of science and engineering. We present a procedure for efficient variational Bayesian learning of nonlinear state-space models based on sparse Gaussian processes. The result of learning is a tractable posterior over nonlinear dynamical systems. In comparison to conventional parametric models, we offer the possibility to straightforwardly trade off model capacity and computational cost whilst avoiding overfitting. Our main algorithm uses a hybrid inference approach combining variational Bayes and sequential Monte Carlo.