Efficient Large-scale Nonstationary Spatial Covariance Function Estimation Using Convolutional Neural Networks

Spatial processes observed in various fields, such as climate and environmental science, often occur on a large scale and demonstrate spatial nonstationarity. Fitting a Gaussian process with a nonstationary Mat'ern covariance is challenging. Previous studies in the literature have tackled this challenge by employing spatial partitioning techniques to estimate the parameters that vary spatially in the covariance function. The selection of partitions is an important consideration, but it is often subjective and lacks a data-driven approach. To address this issue, in this study, we utilize the power of Convolutional Neural Networks (ConvNets) to derive subregions from the nonstationary data. We employ a selection mechanism to identify subregions that exhibit similar behavior to stationary fields. In order to distinguish between stationary and nonstationary random fields, we conducted training on ConvNet using various simulated data. These simulations are generated from Gaussian processes with Mat'ern covariance models under a wide range of parameter settings, ensuring adequate representation of both stationary and nonstationary spatial data. We assess the performance of the proposed method with synthetic and real datasets at a large scale. The results revealed enhanced accuracy in parameter estimations when relying on ConvNet-based partition compared to traditional user-defined approaches.

The funding for the research presented in this manuscript was provided by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. We also would like to thank the Supercomputing Laboratory (KSL) at KAUST for providing computational resources to this project on the Shaheen-II Cray XC40 Supercomputer.



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