Calibrate, emulate, sample

Emmet Cleary, Alfredo Garbuno-Inigo, Shiwei Lan, Tapio Schneider, Andrew M. Stuart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Many parameter estimation problems arising in applications can be cast in the framework of Bayesian inversion. This allows not only for an estimate of the parameters, but also for the quantification of uncertainties in the estimates. Often in such problems the parameter-to-data map is very expensive to evaluate, and computing derivatives of the map, or derivative-adjoints, may not be feasible. Additionally, in many applications only noisy evaluations of the map may be available. We propose an approach to Bayesian inversion in such settings that builds on the derivative-free optimization capabilities of ensemble Kalman inversion methods. The overarching approach is to first use ensemble Kalman sampling (EKS) to calibrate the unknown parameters to fit the data; second, to use the output of the EKS to emulate the parameter-to-data map; third, to sample from an approximate Bayesian posterior distribution in which the parameter-to-data map is replaced by its emulator. This results in a principled approach to approximate Bayesian inference that requires only a small number of evaluations of the (possibly noisy approximation of the) parameter-to-data map. It does not require derivatives of this map, but instead leverages the documented power of ensemble Kalman methods. Furthermore, the EKS has the desirable property that it evolves the parameter ensemble towards the regions in which the bulk of the parameter posterior mass is located, thereby locating them well for the emulation phase of the methodology. In essence, the EKS methodology provides a cheap solution to the design problem of where to place points in parameter space to efficiently train an emulator of the parameter-to-data map for the purposes of Bayesian inversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109716
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Approximate Bayesian inversion
  • Ensemble Kalman sampling
  • Experimental design
  • Gaussian process emulation
  • Uncertainty quantification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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