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The classical filtering problem is re-examined to take into account imprecision in the knowledge about the probabilistic relationships involved. Imprecision is modeled in this paper by closed convex sets of probabilities. We derive a solution of the state estimation problem under such a framework that is very general: it can deal with any closed convex set of probability distributions used to characterize uncertainty in the prior, likelihood, and state transition models. This is made possible by formulating the theory directly in terms of coherent lower previsions, that is, of the lower envelopes of the expectations obtained from the set of distributions. The general solution is specialized to two particular classes of coherent lower previsions. The first consists of a family of Gaussian distributions whose means are only known to belong to an interval. The second is the so-called linear-vacuous mixture model, which is a family made of convex combinations of a known nominal distribution (e.g., a Gaussian) with arbitrary distributions. For the latter case, we empirically compare the proposed estimator with the Kalman filter. This shows that our solution is more robust to the presence of modelling errors in the system and that, hence, appears to be a more realistic approach than the Kalman filter in such a case.
Date of Publication: July 2011