Reducing local minima in fitness landscapes of parameter estimation by using piecewise evaluation and state estimation

by   Christoph Zimmer, et al.
University of Heidelberg

Ordinary differential equations (ODE) are widely used for modeling in Systems Biology. As most commonly only some of the kinetic parameters are measurable or precisely known, parameter estimation techniques are applied to parametrize the model to experimental data. A main challenge for the parameter estimation is the complexity of the parameter space, especially its high dimensionality and local minima. Parameter estimation techniques consist of an objective function, measuring how well a certain parameter set describes the experimental data, and an optimization algorithm that optimizes this objective function. A lot of effort has been spent on developing highly sophisticated optimization algorithms to cope with the complexity in the parameter space, but surprisingly few articles address the influence of the objective function on the computational complexity in finding global optima. We extend a recently developed multiple shooting for stochastic systems (MSS) objective function for parameter estimation of stochastic models and apply it to parameter estimation of ODE models. This MSS objective function treats the intervals between measurement points separately. This separate treatment allows the ODE trajectory to stay closer to the data and we show that it reduces the complexity of the parameter space. We use examples from Systems Biology, namely a Lotka-Volterra model, a FitzHugh-Nagumo oscillator and a Calcium oscillation model, to demonstrate the power of the MSS approach for reducing the complexity and the number of local minima in the parameter space. The approach is fully implemented in the COPASI software package and, therefore, easily accessible for a wide community of researchers.


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