# Gaussian processes¶

Gaussian processes model a probability distribution over functions.

Let be some function mapping vectors to vectors. Then we can write:

where represents the mean vector:

and is the kernel function.

## Kernel function¶

The kernel is a function that represents the covariance function for the Gaussian process.

The kernel can be thought of as a prior for the shape of the function, encoding our expectations for the amount of smoothness or non-linearity.

Not all conceivable kernels are valid. The kernel must produce covariance matrices that are positive-definite.

### Gaussian kernel¶

Also known as the **radial basis function or RBF** kernel.

Some functions sampled from a GP with a Gaussian kernel:

## Sampling from a Gaussian process¶

The method is as follows:

- Decide on a vector of inputs for which we want to compute , where is some function which we will sample from the Gaussian process.
- Compute the matrix where .
- Perform Cholesky decomposition on , yielding a lower triangular matrix .
- Sample a vector of numbers from a standard Gaussian distribution, .
- Take the dot product of and the vector to get the samples .