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I'm try to implement an Imm filter. In one step I need to perform the multivariate gaussian probability function. The problem is that the covariance matrix S of the filter has a negative determinant. My questions:

  1. Is it possible to have a negative determinant? The S matrix is a positive semi-definite matrix so I think it's not possible at all, right?
  2. If for some reason a negative determinant is found, what could I do in my filter? How to recover from a mathematical point of view?
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You've got something wrong with your code, probably. A covariance matrix is a symmetric matrix which is positive semi-definite so all its eigenvalues are non-negative. Thus, the determinant (product of eigenvalues) is non-negative.

If it is becoming indefinite due to numerical roundoff, you can replace $S$ with $S + \epsilon I$ for some small $\epsilon >0$. If $S$ is symmetric and $\epsilon \geq \lambda_{min} (S)$, this matrix is positive semi-definite (which you can check from the Raleigh quotient). This is called diagonal loading.

Also, you can propagate a square root of $S$ (e.g. a Cholesky decomposition or something). Square root filters for RLS/Kalman are relatively common and covered in literature (e.g. Haykin's Adaptive filter theory).

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  • $\begingroup$ The problem is that due to numerical problem, S is not exactly a symmetric matrix. Thank you very much for your answer. $\endgroup$ – greywolf82 Apr 11 '15 at 6:59

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