Improving Bayesian radiological profiling of waste drums using Dirichlet priors, Gaussian process priors, and hierarchical modeling

Research outputpeer-review


We present three methodological improvements of our recently proposed approach for Bayesian inference of the radionuclide inventory in radioactive waste drums, from radiological measurements. First we resort to the Dirichlet distribution for the prior distribution of the isotopic vector. The Dirichlet distribution possesses the attractive property that the elements of its vector samples sum up to 1. Second, we demonstrate that such Dirichlet priors can be incorporated within an hierarchical modeling of the prior uncertainty in the isotopic vector, when prior information about isotopic composition is available. Our used Bayesian hierarchical modeling framework makes use of this available information but also acknowledges its uncertainty by letting to a controlled extent the information content of the indirect measurement data (i.e., gamma and neutron counts) shape the actual prior distribution of the isotopic vector. Third, we propose to regularize the Bayesian inversion by using Gaussian process (GP) prior modeling when inferring 1D spatially-distributed mass or, equivalently, activity distributions. As of uncertainty in the efficiencies, we keep using the same stylized drum modeling approach as proposed in our previous work to account for the source distribution uncertainty across the vertical direction of the drum. A series of synthetic tests followed by application to a real waste drum show that combining hierarchical modeling of the prior isotopic composition uncertainty together with GP prior modeling of the vertical Pu profile across the drum works well. We also find that our GP prior can handles both cases with and without spatial correlation. Of course, our GP prior modeling framework only makes sense in the context of spatial inference. Furthermore, the computational times involved by our approach are on the order of a few hours, say about 2, to provide uncertainty estimates for all variables of interest in the considered inverse problem. This warrants further investigations to speed up the inference.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110691
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Radiation and Isotopes
StatePublished - Apr 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation

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