A comprehensive and fair comparison of two neural operators (with practical extensions) based on FAIR data

10 Nov 2021  ·  Lu Lu, Xuhui Meng, Shengze Cai, Zhiping Mao, Somdatta Goswami, Zhongqiang Zhang, George Em Karniadakis ·

Neural operators can learn nonlinear mappings between function spaces and offer a new simulation paradigm for real-time prediction of complex dynamics for realistic diverse applications as well as for system identification in science and engineering. Herein, we investigate the performance of two neural operators, and we develop new practical extensions that will make them more accurate and robust and importantly more suitable for industrial-complexity applications. The first neural operator, DeepONet, was published in 2019, and the second one, named Fourier Neural Operator or FNO, was published in 2020. In order to compare FNO with DeepONet for realistic setups, we develop several extensions of FNO that can deal with complex geometric domains as well as mappings where the input and output function spaces are of different dimensions. We also endow DeepONet with special features that provide inductive bias and accelerate training, and we present a faster implementation of DeepONet with cost comparable to the computational cost of FNO. We consider 16 different benchmarks to demonstrate the relative performance of the two neural operators, including instability wave analysis in hypersonic boundary layers, prediction of the vorticity field of a flapping airfoil, porous media simulations in complex-geometry domains, etc. The performance of DeepONet and FNO is comparable for relatively simple settings, but for complex geometries and especially noisy data, the performance of FNO deteriorates greatly. For example, for the instability wave analysis with only 0.1% noise added to the input data, the error of FNO increases 10000 times making it inappropriate for such important applications, while there is hardly any effect of such noise on the DeepONet. We also compare theoretically the two neural operators and obtain similar error estimates for DeepONet and FNO under the same regularity assumptions.

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Computational Physics