Multi-objective symbolic regression for physics-aware dynamic modeling

Jiří Kubalík, Erik Derner, Robert Babuška

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Virtually all dynamic system control methods benefit from the availability of an accurate mathematical model of the system. This includes also methods like reinforcement learning, which can be vastly sped up and made safer by using a dynamic system model. However, obtaining a sufficient amount of informative data for constructing dynamic models can be difficult. Consequently, standard data-driven model learning techniques using small data sets that do not cover all important properties of the system yield models that are partly incorrect, for instance, in terms of their steady-state characteristics or local behavior. However, often some knowledge about the desired physical properties of the model is available. Recently, several symbolic regression approaches making use of such knowledge to compensate for data insufficiency were proposed. Therefore, this knowledge should be incorporated into the model learning process to compensate for data insufficiency. In this paper, we consider a multi-objective symbolic regression method that optimizes models with respect to their training error and the measure of how well they comply with the desired physical properties. We propose an extension to the existing algorithm that helps generate a diverse set of high-quality models. Further, we propose a method for selecting a single final model out of the pool of candidate output models. We experimentally demonstrate the approach on three real systems: the TurtleBot 2 mobile robot, the Parrot Bebop 2 drone and the magnetic manipulation system. The results show that the proposed model-learning algorithm yields accurate models that are physically justified. The improvement in terms of the model's compliance with prior knowledge over the models obtained when no prior knowledge was involved in the learning process is of several orders of magnitude.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115210
Number of pages13
JournalExpert Systems with Applications
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • Genetic programming
  • Model learning for control
  • Motion control
  • Symbolic regression


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