Probabilistic Iterative Methods for Linear Systems

23 Dec 2020  ·  Jon Cockayne, Ilse C. F. Ipsen, Chris J. Oates, Tim W. Reid ·

This paper presents a probabilistic perspective on iterative methods for approximating the solution $\mathbf{x}_* \in \mathbb{R}^d$ of a nonsingular linear system $\mathbf{A} \mathbf{x}_* = \mathbf{b}$. In the approach a standard iterative method on $\mathbb{R}^d$ is lifted to act on the space of probability distributions $\mathcal{P}(\mathbb{R}^d)$. Classically, an iterative method produces a sequence $\mathbf{x}_m$ of approximations that converge to $\mathbf{x}_*$. The output of the iterative methods proposed in this paper is, instead, a sequence of probability distributions $\mu_m \in \mathcal{P}(\mathbb{R}^d)$. The distributional output both provides a "best guess" for $\mathbf{x}_*$, for example as the mean of $\mu_m$, and also probabilistic uncertainty quantification for the value of $\mathbf{x}_*$ when it has not been exactly determined. Theoretical analysis is provided in the prototypical case of a stationary linear iterative method. In this setting we characterise both the rate of contraction of $\mu_m$ to an atomic measure on $\mathbf{x}_*$ and the nature of the uncertainty quantification being provided. We conclude with an empirical illustration that highlights the insight into solution uncertainty that can be provided by probabilistic iterative methods.

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