A Fast and Scalable Method for A-Optimal Design of Experiments for Infinite-dimensional Bayesian Nonlinear Inverse Problems with Application to Porous Medium Flow
Abstract:We address the problem of optimal experimental design (OED) for Bayesian nonlinear inverse problems governed by partial differential equations (PDEs). The inverse problem seeks to infer a parameter field (e.g., the log permeability field in a porous medium flow model problem) from synthetic observations at a set of sensor locations and from the governing PDEs. The goal of the OED problem is to find an optimal placement of sensors so as to minimize the uncertainty in the inferred parameter field. We formulate the OED objective function by generalizing the classical A-optimal experimental design criterion using the expected value of the trace of the posterior covariance. This expected value is computed through sample averaging over the set of likely experimental data. Due to the infinite-dimensional character of the parameter field, we seek an optimization method that solves the OED problem at a cost (measured in the number of forward PDE solves) that is independent of both the parameter and the sensor dimension.
To facilitate this goal, we construct a Gaussian approximation to the posterior at the maximum a posteriori probability (MAP) point, and use the resulting covariance operator to define the OED objective function. We use randomized trace estimation to compute the trace of this covariance operator. The resulting OED problem includes as constraints the system of PDEs characterizing the MAP point, and the PDEs describing the action of the covariance (of the Gaussian approximation to the posterior) to vectors. We control the sparsity of the sensor configurations using sparsifying penalty functions, and solve the resulting penalized bilevel optimization problem via an interior-point quasi-Newton method, where gradient information is computed via adjoints. We elaborate our OED method for the problem of determining the optimal sensor configuration to best infer the log permeability field in a porous medium flow problem. Numerical results show that the number of PDE solves required for the evaluation of the OED objective function and its gradient is essentially independent of both the parameter dimension and the sensor dimension (i.e., the number of candidate sensor locations). The number of quasi-Newton iterations for computing an OED also exhibits the same dimension invariance properties.