Implicit Filtering – Thank You C.T. Kelley

Implicit Filtering (IF) (designed by C.T. Kelley) is a sophisticated, deterministic pattern search method for bound constrained optimization. Like most pattern search algorithms, the evaluation of the objective function at time step i is used to determine the next cluster of points for the following time step i+1. IF, however, uses a combination of sampling, thus exploring the search space by evaluating the objective function at multiple feasible points, and interpolation, which uses a first-order interpolant constructed via linear least squares, and a quasi-Newton Hessian approximation to infer descent directions.

The sampling method is arranged on a stencil, which, given a current iterate x_c, will sample the objective function in all coordinate directions via x_c \pm hv_i. Here v_i = (L_i-U_i)e_i, where L_i and U_i represent the components of the lower and upper bounds of the feasible region, respectively, and e_i is the unit coordinate vector. The scale, h varies as the optimization progresses, according to \{2^{-n}\}_{n=1}^7. Therefore, if a sampling phase is unsuccessful in finding a more optimal position than the current incumbent point, the scale, and thus the stencil, is reduced by a factor of 0.5, and the sampling phase is repeated. By default, the optimization will terminate after the scale has been reduced by a factor of 2^{-7}. It is, however, the quasi-Newton iteration that provides IF with a clear advantage over a general pattern search algorithm, and has shown to improve overall efficiency and ability of global convergence.

In terms of algorithm structure, IF can be broken into two main loops: the outer loop, which controls the pattern search, and the inner loop, which implements the quasi-Newton iteration at the current best position, x_{min}, determined at the end of each sampling step. Therefore, IF must be given two main stopping criterion; one for each loop.

The quasi-Newton iteration will terminate when the norm of the difference gradient ||\nabla f(x,v,h)|| \leq \tau h. Here, \tau = \xi *\epsilon, where \xi is a scaling factor that attempts to eliminate discrepancies in the step size of the quasi-Newton iteration, which arise when the values of the objective function are either very small or very large. The default scale value is \xi= 1.2|f(x_0)|, where x_0 is the user-supplied initial starting point. \epsilon is the tolerance level for terminating the quasi-Newton iteration. Highly sensitive stopping tolerances are required for optimization of \mathcal{L_\beta} as the likelihood function contains many regions that are relatively flat, which can result in a premature termination of the optimization process if the stopping tolerance is too large.

Kelley states that IF works efficiently for functions which are noisy, non-smooth or random. Therefore in theory, IF should be well suited for optimization of our particular objective function, \mathcal{L_\beta}. The general thought is that the sampling phase, with a suitable step size, should step over the local minima, whereas the quasi-Newton iteration will establish efficient convergence in regions near the global optimum. For more information on IF’s options and specifications, please refer to Implicit Filtering by C.T. Kelley.


I am a recent (2012) Memorial University B.Sc. graduate in Applied Mathematics and Physics. I am currently working in the Mathematics & Statistics Department at MUN, under the supervision of Dr. Ronald Haynes. My current research is in numerical optimization, as it pertains to oil well placement and optimal parameterization. In my spare time I enjoy exercising, spending time with family and friends and playing soft rock and blues guitar.

Posted in Optimization Algorithms

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