Eleftheriadis, Stefanos, Nicholson, Tom, Deisenroth, Marc, Hensman, James

The Gaussian process state space model (GPSSM) is a non-linear dynamical system, where unknown transition and/or measurement mappings are described by GPs. Most research in GPSSMs has focussed on the state estimation problem, i.e., computing a posterior of the latent state given the model. However, the key challenge in GPSSMs has not been satisfactorily addressed yet: system identification, i.e., learning the model. To address this challenge, we impose a structured Gaussian variational posterior distribution over the latent states, which is parameterised by a recognition model in the form of a bi-directional recurrent neural network. Inference with this structure allows us to recover a posterior smoothed over sequences of data. We provide a practical algorithm for efficiently computing a lower bound on the marginal likelihood using the reparameterisation trick. This further allows for the use of arbitrary kernels within the GPSSM. We demonstrate that the learnt GPSSM can efficiently generate plausible future trajectories of the identified system after only observing a small number of episodes from the true system.

Ialongo, Alessandro Davide, van der Wilk, Mark, Rasmussen, Carl Edward

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.

Frigola, Roger, Chen, Yutian, Rasmussen, Carl Edward

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.

Ialongo, Alessandro Davide, van der Wilk, Mark, Hensman, James, Rasmussen, Carl Edward

We identify a new variational inference scheme for dynamical systems whose transition function is modelled by a Gaussian process. Inference in this setting has either employed computationally intensive MCMC methods, or relied on factorisations of the variational posterior. As we demonstrate in our experiments, the factorisation between latent system states and transition function can lead to a miscalibrated posterior and to learning unnecessarily large noise terms. We eliminate this factorisation by explicitly modelling the dependence between state trajectories and the Gaussian process posterior. Samples of the latent states can then be tractably generated by conditioning on this representation. The method we obtain (VCDT: variationally coupled dynamics and trajectories) gives better predictive performance and more calibrated estimates of the transition function, yet maintains the same time and space complexities as mean-field methods. Code is available at: github.com/ialong/GPt.

Ialongo, Alessandro Davide, van der Wilk, Mark, Hensman, James, Rasmussen, Carl Edward

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.