In verifying and validating models of nonlinear processes it is important to incorporate information from observations in an efficient manner. Using the idea of synchronization of nonlinear dynamical systems, we present a framework for connecting a data signal with a model in a way that minimizes the required coupling yet allows the estimation of unknown parameters in the model.
The need to evaluate unknown parameters in models of nonlinear physical, biophysical, and engineering systems occurs throughout the development of phenomenological or reduced models of dynamics. Our approach builds on existing work that uses synchronization as a tool for parameter estimation. We address some of the critical issues in that work and provide a practical framework for finding an accurate solution. In particular, we show the equivalence of this problem to that of tracking within an optimal control framework. This equivalence allows the application of powerful numerical methods that provide robust practical tools for model development and validation.