The decisive future of inflation

Robert J. Hardwick, Vincent Vennin, David Wands

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How much more will we learn about single-field inflationary models in the future? We address this question in the context of Bayesian design and information theory. We develop a novel method to compute the expected utility of deciding between models and apply it to a set of futuristic measurements. This necessarily requires one to evaluate the Bayesian evidence many thousands of times over, which is numerically challenging. We show how this can be done using a number of simplifying assumptions and discuss their validity. We also modify the form of the expected utility, as previously introduced in the literature in different contexts, in order to partition each possible future into either the rejection of models at the level of the maximum likelihood or the decision between models using Bayesian model comparison. We then quantify the ability of future experiments to constrain the reheating temperature and the scalar running. Our approach allows us to discuss possible strategies for maximising information from future cosmological surveys. In particular, our conclusions suggest that, in the context of inflationary model selection, a decrease in the measurement uncertainty of the scalar spectral index would be more decisive than a decrease in the uncertainty in the tensor-to-scalar ratio. We have incorporated our approach into a publicly available python class, foxi (, that can be readily applied to any survey optimisation problem.
Original languageEnglish
Article number070
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number05
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2018


  • CMBR experiments
  • inflation
  • RCUK
  • STFC
  • ST/N5044245
  • ST/N000668/1


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