Iterative methods for Navier-Stokes inverse problems

Liam O'Connor, Daniel Lecoanet, Evan H. Anders, Kyle C. Augustson, Keaton J. Burns, Geoffrey M. Vasil, Jeffrey S. Oishi, Benjamin P. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Even when the partial differential equation underlying a physical process can be evolved forward in time, the retrospective (backward in time) inverse problem often has its own challenges and applications. Direct adjoint looping (DAL) is the defacto approach for solving retrospective inverse problems, but it has not been applied to deterministic retrospective Navier-Stokes inverse problems in 2D or 3D. In this paper, we demonstrate that DAL is ill-suited for solving retrospective 2D Navier-Stokes inverse problems. Alongside DAL, we study two other iterative methods: simple backward integration (SBI) and the quasireversible method (QRM). As far as we know, our iterative SBI approach is novel, while iterative QRM has previously been used. Using these three iterative methods, we solve two retrospective inverse problems: 1D Korteweg-de Vries-Burgers (decaying nonlinear wave) and 2D Navier-Stokes (unstratified Kelvin-Helmholtz vortex). In both cases, SBI and QRM reproduce the target final states more accurately and in fewer iterations than DAL. We attribute this performance gap to additional terms present in SBI and QRM's respective backward integrations which are absent in DAL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number045108
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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