Theoretical Guarantees for the Statistical Finite Element Method

Abstract

The statistical finite element method (StatFEM) is an emerging probabilistic method that allows observations of a physical system to be synthesised with the numerical solution of a PDE intended to describe it in a coherent statistical framework, to compensate for model error. This work presents a new theoretical analysis of the statistical finite element method demonstrating that it has similar convergence properties to the finite element method on which it is based. Our results constitute a bound on the Wasserstein-2 distance between the ideal prior and posterior and the StatFEM approximation thereof, and show that this distance converges at the same mesh-dependent rate as finite element solutions converge to the true solution. Several numerical examples are presented to demonstrate our theory, including an example which test the robustness of StatFEM when extended to nonlinear quantities of interest.