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Title: Physics-Guided Machine Learning for Scientific Discovery: An Application in Simulating Lake Temperature Profiles
Physics-based models are often used to study engineering and environmental systems. The ability to model these systems is the key to achieving our future environmental sustainability and improving the quality of human life. This article focuses on simulating lake water temperature, which is critical for understanding the impact of changing climate on aquatic ecosystems and assisting in aquatic resource management decisions. General Lake Model (GLM) is a state-of-the-art physics-based model used for addressing such problems. However, like other physics-based models used for studying scientific and engineering systems, it has several well-known limitations due to simplified representations of the physical processes being modeled or challenges in selecting appropriate parameters. While state-of-the-art machine learning models can sometimes outperform physics-based models given ample amount of training data, they can produce results that are physically inconsistent. This article proposes a physics-guided recurrent neural network model (PGRNN) that combines RNNs and physics-based models to leverage their complementary strengths and improves the modeling of physical processes. Specifically, we show that a PGRNN can improve prediction accuracy over that of physics-based models (by over 20% even with very little training data), while generating outputs consistent with physical laws. An important aspect of our PGRNN approach lies in its ability to incorporate the knowledge encoded in physics-based models. This allows training the PGRNN model using very few true observed data while also ensuring high prediction accuracy. Although we present and evaluate this methodology in the context of modeling the dynamics of temperature in lakes, it is applicable more widely to a range of scientific and engineering disciplines where physics-based (also known as mechanistic) models are used.  more » « less
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Journal Name:
ACM/IMS Transactions on Data Science
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1 to 26
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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