The feasibility of developing a neural network to perform nonlinear Bayesian estimation from sparse data is explored using an example from clinical pharmacology. The problem involves estimating parameters of a dynamic model describing the pharmacokinetics of the bronchodilator theophylline from limited plasma concentration measurements of the drug obtained in a patient. The estimation performance of a backpropagation trained network is compared to that of the maximum likelihood estimator as well as the maximum a posteriori probability estimator. In the example considered, the estimator prediction errors (model parameters and outputs) obtained from the trained neural network were similar to those obtained using the nonlinear Bayesian estimator.

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