Model reduction of linear dynamical systems via balancing for Bayesian inference

Elizabeth Qian, Jemima M. Tabeart, Christopher Beattie, Serkan Gugercin, Jiahua Jiang, Peter R. Kramer, Akil Narayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider the Bayesian approach to the linear Gaussian inference problem of inferring the initial condition of a linear dynamical system from noisy output measurements taken after the initial time. In practical applications, the large dimension of the dynamical system state poses a computational obstacle to computing the exact posterior distribution. Model reduction offers a variety of computational tools that seek to reduce this computational burden. In particular, balanced truncation is a system-theoretic approach to model reduction which obtains an efficient reduced-dimension dynamical system by projecting the system operators onto state directions which trade off the reachability and observability of state directions as expressed through the associated Gramians. We introduce Gramian definitions relevant to the inference setting and propose a balanced truncation approach based on these inference Gramians that yield a reduced dynamical system that can be used to cheaply approximate the posterior mean and covariance. Our definitions exploit natural connections between (i) the reachability Gramian and the prior covariance and (ii) the observability Gramian and the Fisher information. The resulting reduced model then inherits stability properties and error bounds from system theoretic considerations, and in some settings yields an optimal posterior covariance approximation. Numerical demonstrations on two benchmark problems in model reduction show that our method can yield near-optimal posterior covariance approximations with order-of-magnitude state dimension reduction.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Scientific Computing
Issue number1
Early online date11 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DMS-1439786 and by the Simons Foundation Grant No. 50736 while the authors were in residence at the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics in Providence, RI, during the “Model and dimension reduction in uncertain and dynamic systems” program. EQ was supported in part by the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. JMT was partially supported by EPSRC grant EP/S027785/1. AN was partially supported by NSF DMS-1848508. CB and SG were partially supported by NSF DMS-1819110.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Balanced truncation
  • Bayesian inference
  • Model reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Numerical Analysis
  • Engineering(all)
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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