Predicting turbulent dynamics with the convolutional autoencoder echo state network

Alberto Racca, Nguyen Anh Khoa Doan, Luca Magri

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The dynamics of turbulent flows is chaotic and difficult to predict. This makes the design of accurate reduced-order models challenging. The overarching objective of this paper is to propose a nonlinear decomposition of the turbulent state to predict the flow based on a reduced-order representation of the dynamics. We divide the turbulent flow into a spatial problem and a temporal problem. First, we compute the latent space, which is the manifold onto which the turbulent dynamics live. The latent space is found by a series of nonlinear filtering operations, which are performed by a convolutional autoencoder (CAE). The CAE provides the decomposition in space. Second, we predict the time evolution of the turbulent state in the latent space, which is performed by an echo state network (ESN). The ESN provides the evolution in time. Third, by combining the CAE and the ESN, we obtain an autonomous dynamical system: The CAE-ESN. This is the reduced-order model of the turbulent flow. We test the CAE-ESN on the two-dimensional Kolmogorov flow and the three-dimensional minimal flow unit. We show that the CAE-ESN: (i) finds a latent-space representation of the turbulent flow that has of the degrees of freedom than the physical space; (ii) time-accurately and statistically predicts the flow at different Reynolds numbers; and (iii) takes computational time to predict the flow with respect to solving the governing equations. This work opens possibilities for nonlinear decomposition and reduced-order modelling of turbulent flows from data.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA2
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Issue numberA2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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