Publications / SAND Report

Model-Form Epistemic Uncertainty Quantification for Modeling with Differential Equations: Application to Epidemiology

Acquesta, Erin A.; Portone, Teresa P.; Dandekar, Raj D.; Rackauckas, Chris R.; Bandy, Rileigh J.; Huerta, Jose G.; Dytzel, India L.

Modeling real-world phenomena to any degree of accuracy is a challenge that the scientific research community has navigated since its foundation. Lack of information and limited computational and observational resources necessitate modeling assumptions which, when invalid, lead to model-form error (MFE). The work reported herein explored a novel method to represent model-form uncertainty (MFU) that combines Bayesian statistics with the emerging field of universal differential equations (UDEs). The fundamental principle behind UDEs is simple: use known equational forms that govern a dynamical system when you have them; then incorporate data-driven approaches – in this case neural networks (NNs) – embedded within the governing equations to learn the interacting terms that were underrepresented. Utilizing epidemiology as our motivating exemplar, this report will highlight the challenges of modeling novel infectious diseases while introducing ways to incorporate NN approximations to MFE. Prior to embarking on a Bayesian calibration, we first explored methods to augment the standard (non-Bayesian) UDE training procedure to account for uncertainty and increase robustness of training. In addition, it is often the case that uncertainty in observations is significant; this may be due to randomness or lack of precision in the measurement process. This uncertainty typically manifests as “noisy” observations which deviate from a true underlying signal. To account for such variability, the NN approximation to MFE is endowed with a probabilistic representation and is updated using available observational data in a Bayesian framework. By representing the MFU explicitly and deploying an embedded, data-driven model, this approach enables an agile, expressive, and interpretable method for representing MFU. In this report we will provide evidence that Bayesian UDEs show promise as a novel framework for any science-based, data-driven MFU representation; while emphasizing that significant advances must be made in the calibration of Bayesian NNs to ensure a robust calibration procedure.