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Section: Research Program

Data assimilation and Tracking of characteristic fluid features

Real flows have an extent of complexity, even in carefully controlled experimental conditions, which prevents any set of sensors from providing enough information to describe them completely. Even with the highest levels of accuracy, space-time coverage and grid refinement, there will always remain at least a lack of resolution and some missing input about the actual boundary conditions. This is obviously true for the complex flows encountered in industrial and natural conditions, but remains also an obstacle even for standard academic flows thoroughly investigated in research conditions.

This unavoidable deficiency of the experimental techniques is nevertheless more and more compensated by numerical simulations. The parallel advances in sensors, acquisition, treatment and computer efficiency allow the mixing of experimental and simulated data produced at compatible scales in space and time. The inclusion of dynamical models as constraints of the data analysis process brings a guaranty of coherency based on fundamental equations known to correctly represent the dynamics of the flow (e.g. Navier Stokes equations) [11]. Conversely, the injection of experimental data into simulations ensures some fitting of the model with reality.

To enable data and models coupling to achieve its potential, some difficulties have to be tackled. It is in particular important to outline the fact that the coupling of dynamical models and image data are far from being straightforward. The first difficulty is related to the space of the physical model. As a matter of fact, physical models describe generally the phenomenon evolution in a 3D Cartesian space whereas images provides generally only 2D tomographic views or projections of the 3D space on the 2D image plane. Furthermore, these views are sometimes incomplete because of partial occlusions and the relations between the model state variables and the image intensity function are otherwise often intricate and only partially known. Besides, the dynamical model and the image data may be related to spatio-temporal scale spaces of very different natures which increases the complexity of an eventual multiscale coupling. As a consequence of these difficulties, it is necessary generally to define simpler dynamical models in order to assimilate image data. This redefinition can be done for instance on an uncertainty analysis basis, through physical considerations or by the way of data based empirical specifications. Such modeling comes to define inexact evolution laws and leads to the handling of stochastic dynamical models. The necessity to make use and define sound approximate models, the dimension of the state variables of interest and the complex relations linking the state variables and the intensity function, together with the potential applications described earlier constitute very stimulating issues for the design of efficient data-model coupling techniques based on image sequences.

On top of the problems mentioned above, the models exploited in assimilation techniques often suffer from some uncertainties on the parameters which define them. Hence, a new emerging field of research focuses on the characterization of the set of achievable solutions as a function of these uncertainties. This sort of characterization indeed turns out to be crucial for the relevant analysis of any simulation outputs or the correct interpretation of operational forecasting schemes. In this context, stochastic modeling play a crucial role to model and process uncertainty evolution along time. As a consequence, stochastic parameterization of flow dynamics has already been present in many contributions of the Fluminance group in the last years and will remain a cornerstone of the new methodologies investigated by the team in the domain of uncertainty characterization.

This wide theme of research problems is a central topic in our research group. As a matter of fact, such a coupling may rely on adequate instantaneous motion descriptors extracted with the help of the techniques studied in the first research axis of the fluminance group. In the same time, this coupling is also essential with respect to visual flow control studies explored in the third theme. The coupling between a dynamics and data, designated in the literature as a Data Assimilation issue, can be either conducted with optimal control techniques [68], [69] or through stochastic filtering approaches [62], [65]. These two frameworks have their own advantages and deficiencies. We rely indifferently on both approaches.