7 - Probabilistic data association tutorial

Making an assignment between a single track and a single measurement can be problematic. In the previous tutorials you may have encountered the phenomenon of track seduction. This occurs when clutter, or other track, points are mis-associated with a prediction. If this happens repeatedly (as can be the case in high-clutter or low-\(p_d\) situations) the track can deviate significantly from the truth.

Rather than make a firm assignment at each time-step, we could work out the probability that each measurement should be assigned to a particular target. We could then propagate a measure of these collective probabilities to mitigate the effect of track seduction.


  • Calculate a posterior for each hypothesis;

Image showing NN association for one track
  • Weight each posterior state according to the probability that its corresponding hypothesis was true (including the probability of missed-detection);

Image showing NN association for one track
  • Merge the resulting estimate states in to a single posterior approximation.

Image showing NN association for one track

This results in a more robust approximation to the posterior state covariances that incorporates not only the uncertainty in state, but also in the association.

A PDA filter example

Ground truth

So, as before, we’ll first begin by simulating some ground truth.

import numpy as np

from datetime import datetime
from datetime import timedelta

from stonesoup.models.transition.linear import CombinedLinearGaussianTransitionModel, \
from stonesoup.types.groundtruth import GroundTruthPath, GroundTruthState


start_time = datetime.now()
transition_model = CombinedLinearGaussianTransitionModel([ConstantVelocity(0.005),
truth = GroundTruthPath([GroundTruthState([0, 1, 0, 1], timestamp=start_time)])
for k in range(1, 21):
        transition_model.function(truth[k-1], noise=True, time_interval=timedelta(seconds=1)),

Add clutter.

from scipy.stats import uniform

from stonesoup.types.detection import TrueDetection
from stonesoup.types.detection import Clutter
from stonesoup.models.measurement.linear import LinearGaussian
measurement_model = LinearGaussian(
    mapping=(0, 2),
    noise_covar=np.array([[0.75, 0],
                          [0, 0.75]])

prob_detect = 0.9  # 90% chance of detection.

all_measurements = []
for state in truth:
    measurement_set = set()

    # Generate detection.
    if np.random.rand() <= prob_detect:
        measurement = measurement_model.function(state, noise=True)

    # Generate clutter.
    truth_x = state.state_vector[0]
    truth_y = state.state_vector[2]
    for _ in range(np.random.randint(10)):
        x = uniform.rvs(truth_x - 10, 20)
        y = uniform.rvs(truth_y - 10, 20)
        measurement_set.add(Clutter(np.array([[x], [y]]), timestamp=state.timestamp,


Plot the ground truth and measurements with clutter.

from stonesoup.plotter import Plotter
plotter = Plotter()
plotter.ax.set_ylim(0, 25)
plotter.plot_ground_truths(truth, [0, 2])

# Plot true detections and clutter.
plotter.plot_measurements(all_measurements, [0, 2])
07 PDATutorial

Create the predictor and updater

from stonesoup.predictor.kalman import KalmanPredictor
predictor = KalmanPredictor(transition_model)

from stonesoup.updater.kalman import KalmanUpdater
updater = KalmanUpdater(measurement_model)

Initialise Probabilistic Data Associator

The PDAHypothesiser and PDA associator generate track predictions and calculate probabilities for all prediction-detection pairs for a single prediction and multiple detections. The PDAHypothesiser returns a collection of SingleProbabilityHypothesis types. The PDA takes these hypotheses and returns a dictionary of key-value pairings of each track and detection which it is to be associated with.

from stonesoup.hypothesiser.probability import PDAHypothesiser
hypothesiser = PDAHypothesiser(predictor=predictor,

from stonesoup.dataassociator.probability import PDA
data_associator = PDA(hypothesiser=hypothesiser)

Run the PDA Filter

With these components, we can run the simulated data and clutter through the Kalman filter.

# Create prior
from stonesoup.types.state import GaussianState
prior = GaussianState([[0], [1], [0], [1]], np.diag([1.5, 0.5, 1.5, 0.5]), timestamp=start_time)

# Loop through the predict, hypothesise, associate and update steps.
from stonesoup.types.track import Track
from stonesoup.types.array import StateVectors  # For storing state vectors during association
from stonesoup.functions import gm_reduce_single  # For merging states to get posterior estimate
from stonesoup.types.update import GaussianStateUpdate  # To store posterior estimate

track = Track([prior])
for n, measurements in enumerate(all_measurements):
    hypotheses = data_associator.associate([track],
                                           start_time + timedelta(seconds=n))

    hypotheses = hypotheses[track]

    # Loop through each hypothesis, creating posterior states for each, and merge to calculate
    # approximation to actual posterior state mean and covariance.
    posterior_states = []
    posterior_state_weights = []
    for hypothesis in hypotheses:
        if not hypothesis:
            posterior_state = updater.update(hypothesis)

    means = StateVectors([state.state_vector for state in posterior_states])
    covars = np.stack([state.covar for state in posterior_states], axis=2)
    weights = np.asarray(posterior_state_weights)

    # Reduce mixture of states to one posterior estimate Gaussian.
    post_mean, post_covar = gm_reduce_single(means, covars, weights)

    # Add a Gaussian state approximation to the track.
        post_mean, post_covar,

Plot the resulting track

plotter.plot_tracks(track, [0, 2], uncertainty=True)
07 PDATutorial


1. Bar-Shalom Y, Daum F, Huang F 2009, The Probabilistic Data Association Filter, IEEE Control Systems Magazine

Total running time of the script: ( 0 minutes 1.160 seconds)

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