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We consider complex dynamical systems showing metastable behavior but no local separation of fast and slow time scales. The article raises the question of whether such systems exhibit a low-dimensional manifold supporting its effective dynamics. For answering this question, we aim at finding nonlinear coordinates, called reaction coordinates, such that the projection of the dynamics onto these coordinates preserves the dominant time scales of the dynamics. We show that, based on a specific reducibility property, the existence of good low-dimensional reaction coordinates preserving the dominant time scales is guaranteed. Based on this theoretical framework, we develop and test a novel numerical approach for computing good reaction coordinates. The proposed algorithmic approach is fully local and thus not prone to the curse of dimension with respect to the state space of the dynamics. Hence, it is a promising method for data-based model reduction of complex dynamical systems such as molecular dynamics.

Transfer operators such as the Perron-Frobenius or Koopman operator play an important role in the global analysis of complex dynamical systems. The eigenfunctions of these operators can be used to detect metastable sets, to project the dynamics onto the dominant slow processes, or to separate superimposed signals. We extend transfer operator theory to reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces and show that these operators are related to Hilbert space representations of conditional distributions, known as conditional mean embeddings in the machine learning community. Moreover, numerical methods to compute empirical estimates of these embeddings are akin to data-driven methods for the approximation of transfer operators such as extended dynamic mode decomposition and its variants. In fact, most of the existing methods can be derived from our framework, providing a unifying view on the approximation of transfer operators. One main benefit of the presented kernel-based approaches is that these methods can be applied to any domain where a similarity measure given by a kernel is available. We illustrate the results with the aid of guiding examples and highlight potential applications in molecular dynamics as well as video and text data analysis.

The global behavior of dynamical systems can be studied by analyzing the eigenvalues and corresponding eigenfunctions of linear operators associated with the system. Two important operators which are frequently used to gain insight into the system's behavior are the Perron-Frobenius operator and the Koopman operator. Due to the curse of dimensionality, computing the eigenfunctions of high-dimensional systems is in general infeasible. We will propose a tensor-based reformulation of two numerical methods for computing finite-dimensional approximations of the aforementioned infinite-dimensional operators, namely Ulam's method and Extended Dynamic Mode Decomposition (EDMD). The aim of the tensor formulation is to approximate the eigenfunctions by low-rank tensors, potentially resulting in a significant reduction of the time and memory required to solve the resulting eigenvalue problems, provided that such a low-rank tensor decomposition exists. Typically, not all variables of a high-dimensional dynamical system contribute equally to the system's behavior, often the dynamics can be decomposed into slow and fast processes, which is also reflected in the eigenfunctions. Thus, the weak coupling between different variables might be approximated by low-rank tensor cores. We will illustrate the efficiency of the tensor-based formulation of Ulam's method and EDMD using simple stochastic differential equations.

Information about the behavior of dynamical systems can often be obtained by analyzing the eigenvalues and corresponding eigenfunctions of linear operators associated with a dynamical system. Examples of such operators are the Perron-Frobenius and the Koopman operator. In this paper, we will review different methods that have been developed over the last decades to compute infinite-dimensional approximations of these infinite-dimensional operators - in particular Ulam's method and Extended Dynamic Mode Decomposition (EDMD) - and highlight the similarities and differences between these approaches. The results will be illustrated using simple stochastic differential equations and molecular dynamics examples.

We present a novel machine learning approach to understanding conformation dynamics of biomolecules. The approach combines kernel-based techniques that are popular in the machine learning community with transfer operator theory for analyzing dynamical systems in order to identify conformation dynamics based on molecular dynamics simulation data. We show that many of the prominent methods like Markov State Models, EDMD, and TICA can be regarded as special cases of this approach and that new efficient algorithms can be constructed based on this derivation. The results of these new powerful methods will be illustrated with several examples, in particular the alanine dipeptide and the protein NTL9.

Dimensionality Reduction of Complex Metastable Systems via Kernel Embeddings of Transition Manifolds
(2021)

We present a novel kernel-based machine learning algorithm for identifying the low-dimensional geometry of the effective dynamics of high-dimensional multiscale stochastic systems. Recently, the authors developed a mathematical framework for the computation of optimal reaction coordinates of such systems that is based on learning a parameterization of a low-dimensional transition manifold in a certain function space. In this article, we enhance this approach by embedding and learning this transition manifold in a reproducing kernel Hilbert space, exploiting the favorable properties of kernel embeddings. Under mild assumptions on the kernel, the manifold structure is shown to be preserved under the embedding, and distortion bounds can be derived. This leads to a more robust and more efficient algorithm compared to the previous parameterization approaches.

We consider autocovariance operators of a stationary stochastic process on a Polish space that is embedded into a reproducing kernel Hilbert space. We investigate how empirical estimates of these operators converge along realizations of the process under various conditions. In particular, we examine ergodic and strongly mixing processes and obtain several asymptotic results as well as finite sample error bounds. We provide applications of our theory in terms of consistency results for kernel PCA with dependent data and the conditional mean embedding of transition probabilities. Finally, we use our approach to examine the nonparametric estimation of Markov transition operators and highlight how our theory can give a consistency analysis for a large family of spectral analysis methods including kernel-based dynamic mode decomposition.