Fast prediction and evaluation of gravitational waveforms using surrogate models
We propose a solution to the problem of quickly and accurately predicting gravitational waveforms within any given physical model. The method is relevant for both real-time applications and in more traditional scenarios where the generation of waveforms using standard methods can be prohibitively expensive. Our approach is based on three offline steps resulting in an accurate reduced-order model in both parameter and physical dimensions that can be used as a surrogate for the true/fiducial waveform family. First, a set of m parameter values is determined using a greedy algorithm from which a reduced basis representation is constructed. Second, these m parameters induce the selection of m time values for interpolating a waveform time series using an empirical interpolant that is built for the fiducial waveform family. Third, a fit in the parameter dimension is performed for the waveform’s value at each of these m times. The cost of predicting L waveform time samples for a generic parameter choice is of order O (mL + mc) online operations where c denotes the fitting function operation count and, typically, m ≪ L. The result is a compact, computationally efficient, and accurate surrogate model that retains the original physics of the fiducial waveform family while also being fast to evaluate. We generate accurate surrogate models for Effective One Body (EOB) waveforms of non-spinning binary black hole coalescences with durations as long as 105M, mass ratios from 1 to 10, and for multiple spherical harmonic modes. We find that these surrogates are more than three orders of magnitude faster to evaluate as compared to the cost of generating EOB waveforms in standard ways. Surrogate model building for other waveform families and models follow the same steps and have the same low computational online scaling cost. For expensive numerical simulations of binary black hole coalescences we thus anticipate extremely large speedups in generating new waveforms with a surrogate. As waveform generation is one of the dominant costs in parameter estimation algorithms and parameter space exploration, surrogate models offer a new and practical way to dramatically accelerate such studies without impacting accuracy.