Component-wise iterative ensemble Kalman inversion for static Bayesian models with unknown measurement error covariance

Imke Botha, Matthew P. Adams, David Frazier, Dang Khuong Tran, Frederick R. Bennett, Christopher Drovandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) is a Monte Carlo approximation of the Kalman filter for high dimensional linear Gaussian state space models. EnKF methods have also been developed for parameter inference of static Bayesian models with a Gaussian likelihood, in a way that is analogous to likelihood tempering sequential Monte Carlo (SMC). These methods are commonly referred to as ensemble Kalman inversion (EKI). Unlike SMC, the inference from EKI is asymptotically biased if the likelihood is non-linear and/or non-Gaussian and if the priors are non-Gaussian. However, it is significantly faster to run. Currently, a large limitation of EKI methods is that the covariance of the measurement error is assumed to be fully known. We develop a new method, which we call component-wise iterative EKI (CW-IEKI), that allows elements of the covariance matrix to be inferred alongside the model parameters at negligible extra cost. This novel method is compared to SMC on a linear Gaussian example as well as four examples with non-linear dynamics (i.e. non-linear function of the model parameters). The non-linear examples include a set of population models applied to synthetic data, a model of nitrogen mineralisation in soil that is based on the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator, a model predicting seagrass decline due to stress from water temperature and light, and a model predicting coral calcification rates. On our examples, we find that CW-IEKI has relatively similar predictive performance to SMC, albeit with greater uncertainty, and it has a significantly faster run time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125014
Number of pages57
JournalInverse Problems
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Bayesian inference
  • coral
  • EKI
  • model sloppiness
  • seagrass
  • SMC

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