Bayesian Nonparametric Spectral Estimation

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)

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Felipe Tobar


Spectral estimation (SE) aims to identify how the energy of a signal (e.g., a time series) is distributed across different frequencies. This can become particularly challenging when only partial and noisy observations of the signal are available, where current methods fail to handle uncertainty appropriately. In this context, we propose a joint probabilistic model for signals, observations and spectra, where SE is addressed as an inference problem. Assuming a Gaussian process prior over the signal, we apply Bayes' rule to find the analytic posterior distribution of the spectrum given a set of observations. Besides its expressiveness and natural account of spectral uncertainty, the proposed model also provides a functional-form representation of the power spectral density, which can be optimised efficiently. Comparison with previous approaches is addressed theoretically, showing that the proposed method is an infinite-dimensional variant of the Lomb-Scargle approach, and also empirically through three experiments.