PDE-Net: Learning PDEs from Data

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Zichao Long, Yiping Lu, Xianzhong Ma, Bin Dong ;
Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 80:3208-3216, 2018.

Abstract

Partial differential equations (PDEs) play a prominent role in many disciplines of science and engineering. PDEs are commonly derived based on empirical observations. However, with the rapid development of sensors, computational power, and data storage in the past decade, huge quantities of data can be easily collected and efficiently stored. Such vast quantity of data offers new opportunities for data-driven discovery of physical laws. Inspired by the latest development of neural network designs in deep learning, we propose a new feed-forward deep network, called PDE-Net, to fulfill two objectives at the same time: to accurately predict dynamics of complex systems and to uncover the underlying hidden PDE models. Comparing with existing approaches, our approach has the most flexibility by learning both differential operators and the nonlinear response function of the underlying PDE model. A special feature of the proposed PDE-Net is that all filters are properly constrained, which enables us to easily identify the governing PDE models while still maintaining the expressive and predictive power of the network. These constrains are carefully designed by fully exploiting the relation between the orders of differential operators and the orders of sum rules of filters (an important concept originated from wavelet theory). Numerical experiments show that the PDE-Net has the potential to uncover the hidden PDE of the observed dynamics, and predict the dynamical behavior for a relatively long time, even in a noisy environment.

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