Communication-Aware, Scalable Gaussian Processes for Decentralized Exploration

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Virginia Tech

In this dissertation, we propose decentralized and scalable algorithms for Gaussian process (GP) training and prediction in multi-agent systems. The first challenge is to compute a spatial field that represents underwater acoustic communication performance from a set of measurements. We compare kriging to cokriging with vehicle range as a secondary variable using a simple approximate linear-log model of the communication performance. Next, we propose a model-based learning methodology for the prediction of underwater acoustic performance using a realistic propagation model. The methodology consists of two steps: i) estimation of the covariance matrix by evaluating candidate functions with estimated parameters; and ii) prediction of communication performance. Covariance estimation is addressed with a multi-stage iterative training method that produces unbiased and robust results with nested models. The efficiency of the framework is validated with simulations and experimental data from field trials. The second challenge is to perform predictions at unvisited locations with a team of agents and limited inter-agent information exchange. To decentralize the implementation of GP training, we employ the alternating direction method of multipliers (ADMM). A closed-form solution of the decentralized proximal ADMM is provided for the case of GP hyper-parameter training with maximum likelihood estimation. Multiple aggregation techniques for GP prediction are decentralized with the use of iterative and consensus methods. In addition, we propose a covariance-based nearest neighbor selection strategy that enables a subset of agents to perform predictions. Empirical evaluations illustrate the efficiency of the proposed methods

Gaussian Processes, Kriging, Distributed Optimization, Underwater Acoustic Communications, Decentralized Networks