Bayesian design of experiments for generalised linear models and dimensional analysis with industrial and scientific application

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • David C Woods
  • Antony M. Overstall
  • Maria Adamou
  • Timothy Waite


The design of an experiment can always be considered at least implicitly Bayesian, with prior knowledge used informally to aid decisions such as the variables to be studied and the choice of a plausible relationship between the explanatory variables and measured responses. Bayesian methods allow uncertainty in these decisions to be incorporated into design selection through prior distributions that encapsulate information available from scientific knowledge or previous experimentation. Further, a design may be explicitly tailored to the aim of the experiment through a decision-theoretic approach using an appropriate loss function. We review the area of decision-theoretic Bayesian design, with particular emphasis on recent advances in computational methods. For many problems arising in industry and science, experiments result in a discrete response that is well described by a member of the class of generalized linear models. Bayesian design for such nonlinear models is often seen as impractical as the expected loss is analytically intractable and numerical approximations are usually computationally expensive. We describe how Gaussian process emulation, commonly used in computer experiments, can play an important role in facilitating Bayesian design for realistic problems. A main focus is the combination of Gaussian process regression to approximate the expected loss with cyclic descent (coordinate exchange) optimization algorithms to allow optimal designs to be found for previously infeasible problems. We also present the first optimal design results for statistical models formed from dimensional analysis, a methodology widely employed in the engineering and physical sciences to produce parsimonious and interpretable models. Using the famous paper helicopter experiment, we show the potential for the combination of Bayesian design, generalized linear models, and dimensional analysis to produce small but informative experiments.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalQuality Engineering
Early online date13 Oct 2016
StateE-pub ahead of print - 13 Oct 2016