Extracting Interpretable Physical Parameters from Spatiotemporal Systems using Unsupervised Learning
Experimental data is often affected by uncontrolled variables that make analysis and interpretation difficult. For spatiotemporal systems, this problem is further exacerbated by their intricate dynamics. Modern machine learning methods are particularly well-suited for analyzing and modeling complex datasets, but to be effective in science, the result needs to be interpretable. We demonstrate an unsupervised learning technique for extracting interpretable physical parameters from noisy
... oral data and for building a transferable model of the system. In particular, we implement a physics-informed architecture based on variational autoencoders that is designed for analyzing systems governed by partial differential equations (PDEs). The architecture is trained end-to-end and extracts latent parameters that parameterize the dynamics of a learned predictive model for the system. To test our method, we train our model on simulated data from a variety of PDEs with varying dynamical parameters that act as uncontrolled variables. Numerical experiments show that our method can accurately identify relevant parameters and extract them from raw and even noisy spatiotemporal data (tested with roughly 10 with R^2 > 0.95) with the ground truth physical parameters used to generate the datasets. Our method for discovering interpretable latent parameters in spatiotemporal systems will allow us to better analyze and understand real-world phenomena and datasets, which often have unknown and uncontrolled variables that alter the system dynamics and cause varying behaviors that are difficult to disentangle.