Designing and Using Models


The concept of a model is key to the use of QInfer. A model defines the probability distribution over experimental data given hypotheses about the system of interest, and given a description of the measurement performed. This distribution is called the likelihood function, and it encapsulates the definition of the model.

In QInfer, likelihood functions are represented as classes inheriting from either Model, when the likelihood function can be numerically evaluated, or Simulatable when only samples from the function can be efficiently generated.

Using Models and Simulations

Basic Functionality

Both Model and Simulatable offer basic functionality to describe how they are parameterized, what outcomes are possible, etc. For this example, we will use a premade model from test_models, SimplePrecessionModel. This model implements the likelihood function

\[\begin{split}\Pr(d | \omega; t) = \begin{cases} \cos^2 (\omega t / 2) & d = 0 \\ \sin^2 (\omega t / 2) & d = 1 \end{cases},\end{split}\]

as can be derived from Born’s Rule for a spin-½ particle prepared and measured in the \(\left|+\right\rangle\) state, and evolved under \(H = \omega \sigma_z / 2\) for some time \(t\).

In this way, we see that by defining the likelihood function in terms of the hypothetical outcome \(d\), the model parameter \(\omega\), and the experimental parameter \(t\), we can reason about the experimental data that we would extract from the system.

In order to use this likelihood function, we must instantiate the model that implements the likelihood. Since SimplePrecessionModel is provided with QInfer, we can simply import it and make an instance.

>>> from qinfer.test_models import SimplePrecessionModel
>>> m = SimplePrecessionModel()

Once a model or simulator has been created, you can query how many model parameters it admits and how many outcomes a given experiment can have.

>>> print m.n_modelparams
>>> print m.modelparam_names
>>> print m.is_n_outcomes_constant
>>> print m.n_outcomes(expparams=0)

Model and Experiment Parameters

The division between unknown parameters that we are trying to learn (\(\omega\) in the SimplePrecessionModel example) and the controls that we can use to design measurements (\(t\)) is generic, and is key to how QInfer handles the problem of parameter estimation. Roughly speaking, model parameters are real numbers that represent properties of the system that we would like to learn, whereas experiment parameters represent the choices we get to make in performing measurements.

Model parameters are represented by NumPy arrays of dtype float and that have two indices, one representing which model is being considered and one representing which parameter. That is, model parameters are defined by matrices such that the element \(X_ij\) is the \(j^{\text{th}}\) parameter of the model parameter vector \(\vec{x}_i\).

By contrast, since not all experiment parameters are best represented by the data type float, we cannot use an array of homogeneous dtype unless there is only one experimental parameter. The alternative is to use NumPy’s record array functionality to specify the heterogeneous type of the experiment parameters. To do so, instead of using a second index to refer to specific experiment parameters, we use fields. Each field then has its own dtype.

For instance, a dtype of [('t', 'float'), ('basis', 'int')] specifies that an array has two fields, named t and basis, having dtypes of float and int, respectively. Such arrays are initialized by passing lists of tuples, one for each field:

>>> import numpy as np
>>> eps = np.array([
...     (12.3, 2),
...     (14.1, 1)
... ], dtype=[('t', 'float'), ('basis', 'int')])
>>> print eps
[(12.3, 2) (14.1, 1)]
>>> print eps.shape

Once we have made a record array, we can then index by field names to get out each field as an array of that field’s value in each record, or we can index by record to get all fields.

>>> print eps['t']
[ 12.3  14.1]
>>> print eps['basis']
[2 1]
>>> print eps[0]
(12.3, 2)

Model classes specify the dtypes of their experimental parameters with the property expparams_dtype. Thus, a common idiom is to pass this property to the dtype keyword of NumPy functions. For example, the model class BinomialModel adds an int field specifying how many times a two-outcome measurement is repeated, so to specify that we can use its expparams_dtype:

>>> from qinfer.derived_models import BinomialModel
>>> bm = BinomialModel(m)
>>> print bm.expparams_dtype
[('x', 'float'), ('n_meas', 'uint')]
>>> eps = np.array([
...     (11.0, 20)
... ], dtype=bm.expparams_dtype)


Both models and simulators allow for simulated data to be drawn from the model distribution using the simulate_experiment() method. This method takes a matrix of model parameters and a vector of experiment parameter records or scalars (depending on the model or simulator), then returns an array of sample data, one sample for each combination of model and experiment parameters.

>>> import numpy as np
>>> modelparams = np.linspace(0, 1, 100)
>>> expparams = np.arange(1, 10) * np.pi / 2
>>> D = m.simulate_experiment(modelparams, expparams, repeat=3)
>>> print type(D)
<type 'numpy.ndarray'>
>>> print D.shape
(3, 100, 9)

If exactly one datum is requested, simulate_experiment() will return a scalar:

>>> print m.simulate_experiment(np.array([0.5]), np.array([3.5 * np.pi]), repeat=1).shape

Note that in NumPy, a shape tuple of length zero indicates a scalar value, as such an array has no indices.


The core functionality of Model, however, is the likelihood() method. This takes vectors of outcomes, model parameters and experiment parameters, then returns for each combination of the three the corresponding probability \(\Pr(d | \vec{x}; \vec{e})\).

>>> import numpy as np
>>> modelparams = np.linspace(0, 1, 100)
>>> expparams = np.arange(1, 10) * np.pi / 2
>>> outcomes = np.array([0], dtype=int)
>>> L = m.likelihood(outcomes, modelparams, expparams)

The return value of likelihood() is a three-index array of probabilities whose shape is given by the lengths of outcomes, modelparams and expparams. In particular, likelihood() returns a rank-three tensor \(L_{ijk} := \Pr(d_i | \vec{x}_j; \vec{e}_k)\).

>>> print type(L)
<type 'numpy.ndarray'>
>>> print L.shape
(1, 100, 9)

Implementing Custom Simulators and Models

In order to implement a custom simulator or model, one must specify metadata describing the number of outcomes, model parameters, experimental parameters, etc. in addition to implementing the simulation and/or likelihood methods.

Here, we demonstrate how to do so by walking through a simple subclass of Model. For more detail, please see the API Reference.

Suppose we wish to implement the likelihood function

\[\Pr(0 | \omega_1, \omega_2; t_1, t_2) = \cos^2(\omega_1 t_1 / 2) \cos^2(\omega_2 t_2 / 2),\]

as may arise in looking, for instance, at an experiment expired by 2D NMR. This model has two model parameters, \(\omega_1\) and \(\omega_2\), and so we start by creating a new class and declaring the number of model parameters as a property:

class MultiCosModel(Model):
    def n_modelparams(self):
        return 2

Next, we proceed to add a property and method indicating that this model always admits two outcomes, irrespective of what measurement is performed.

    def is_n_outcomes_constant(self):
        return True
    def n_outcomes(self, expparams):
        return 2

We indicate the valid range for model parameters by returning an array of dtype bool for each of an input matrix of model parameters, specifying whether each model vector is valid or not. Typically, this will look like some typical bounds checking, combined using logical_and and all. Here, we follow that model by inisting that all elements of each model parameter vector must be at least 0, and must not exceed 1.

    def are_models_valid(self, modelparams):
        return np.all(np.logical_and(modelparams > 0, modelparams <= 1), axis=1)

Next, we specify what a measurement looks like by defining expparams_dtype. In this case, we want one field that is an array of two float elements:

    def expparams_dtype(self):
        return [('ts', '2float')]

Finally, we write the likelihood itself. Since this is a two-outcome model, we can calculate the rank-two tensor \(p_{jk} = \Pr(0 | \vec{x}_j; \vec{e}_k)\) and let pr0_to_likelihood_array() add an index over outcomes for us. To compute \(p_{jk}\) efficiently, it is helpful to do a bit of index gymnastics using NumPy’s powerful broadcasting rules. In this example, we set up the calculation to produce terms of the form \(\cos^2(x_{j,l} e_{k,l} / 2)\) for \(l \in \{0, 1\}\) indicating whether we’re referring to \(\omega_1\) or \(\omega_2\), respectively. Multiplying along this axis then gives us the product of the two cosine functions, and in a way that very nicely generalizes to likelihood functions of the form

\[\Pr(0 | \omega_1, \omega_2; t_1, t_2) = \prod_l \cos^2(\omega_l t_l / 2).\]

Running through the index gymnastics, we can implement the likelihood function as:

    def likelihood(self, outcomes, modelparams, expparams):
        # We first call the superclass method, which basically
        # just makes sure that call count diagnostics are properly
        # logged.
        super(MultiCosModel, self).likelihood(outcomes, modelparams, expparams)
        # Next, since we have a two-outcome model, everything is defined by
        # Pr(0 | modelparams; expparams), so we find the probability of 0
        # for each model and each experiment.
        # We do so by taking a product along the modelparam index (len 2,
        # indicating omega_1 or omega_2), then squaring the result.
        pr0 =
                # shape (n_models, 1, 2)
                modelparams[:, np.newaxis, :] *
                # shape (n_experiments, 2)
            ), # <- broadcasts to shape (n_models, n_experiments, 2).
            axis=2 # <- product over the final index (len 2)
        ) ** 2 # square each element
        # Now we use pr0_to_likelihood_array to turn this two index array
        # above into the form expected by SMCUpdater and other consumers
        # of likelihood().
        return Model.pr0_to_likelihood_array(outcomes, pr0)

Our new custom model is now ready to use!

Adding Functionality to Models with Other Models

QInfer also provides model classes which add functionality or otherwise modify other models. For instance, the BinomialModel class accepts instances of two-outcome models and then represents the likelihood for many repeated measurements of that model. This is especially useful in cases where experimental concerns make switching experiments costly, such that repeated measurements make sense.

To use BinomialModel, simply provide an instance of another model class:

>>> from qinfer.test_models import SimplePrecessionModel
>>> from qinfer.derived_models import BinomialModel
>>> bin_model = BinomialModel(SimplePrecessionModel())

Experiments for BinomialModel have an additional field from the underlying models, called n_meas. If the original model used scalar experiment parameters (e.g.: expparams_dtype is float), then the original scalar will be referred to by a field x.

>>> import numpy as np
>>> eps = np.array([(12.1, 10)], dtype=bin_model.expparams_dtype)
>>> print eps['x'], eps['n_meas']
[ 12.1] [10]

Another model which decorates other models in this way is PoisonedModel, which is discussed in more detail in Robustness Testing. Roughly, this model causes the likeihood functions calculated by its underlying model to be subject to random noise, so that the robustness of an inference algorithm against such noise can be tested.