Theses Doctoral

From multiscale modeling to metamodeling of geomechanics problems

Wang, Kun

In numerical simulations of geomechanics problems, a grand challenge consists of overcoming the difficulties in making accurate and robust predictions by revealing the true mechanisms in particle interactions, fluid flow inside pore spaces, and hydromechanical coupling effect between the solid and fluid constituents, from microscale to mesoscale, and to macroscale. While simulation tools incorporating subscale physics can provide detailed insights and accurate material properties to macroscale simulations via computational homogenizations, these numerical simulations are often too computational demanding to be directly used across multiple scales. Recent breakthroughs of Artificial Intelligence (AI) via machine learning have great potential to overcome these barriers, as evidenced by their great success in many applications such as image recognition, natural language processing, and strategy exploration in games. The AI can achieve super-human performance level in a large number of applications, and accomplish tasks that were thought to be not feasible due to the limitations of human and previous computer algorithms. Yet, machine learning approaches can also suffer from overfitting, lack of interpretability, and lack of reliability. Thus the application of machine learning into generation of accurate and reliable surrogate constitutive models for geomaterials with multiscale and multiphysics is not trivial. For this purpose, we propose to establish an integrated modeling process for automatic designing, training, validating, and falsifying of constitutive models, or "metamodeling". This dissertation focuses on our efforts in laying down step-by-step the necessary theoretical and technical foundations for the multiscale metamodeling framework.

The first step is to develop multiscale hydromechanical homogenization frameworks for both bulk granular materials and granular interfaces, with their behaviors homogenized from subscale microstructural simulations. For efficient simulations of field-scale geomechanics problems across more than two scales, we develop a hybrid data-driven method designed to capture the multiscale hydro-mechanical coupling effect of porous media with pores of various different sizes. By using sub-scale simulations to generate database to train material models, an offline homogenization procedure is used to replace the up-scaling procedure to generate path-dependent cohesive laws for localized physical discontinuities at both grain and specimen scales.

To enable AI in taking over the trial-and-error tasks in the constitutive modeling process, we introduce a novel “metamodeling” framework that employs both graph theory and deep reinforcement learning (DRL) to generate accurate, physics compatible and interpretable surrogate machine learning models. The process of writing constitutive models is simplified as a sequence of forming graph edges with the goal of maximizing the model score (a function of accuracy, robustness and forward prediction quality). By using neural networks to estimate policies and state values, the computer agent is able to efficiently self-improve the constitutive models generated through self-playing.

To overcome the obstacle of limited information in geomechanics, we improve the efficiency in utilization of experimental data by a multi-agent cooperative metamodeling framework to provide guidance on database generation and constitutive modeling at the same time. The modeler agent in the framework focuses on evaluating all modeling options (from domain experts’ knowledge or machine learning) in a directed multigraph of elasto-plasticity theory, and finding the optimal path that links the source of the directed graph (e.g., strain history) to the target (e.g., stress). Meanwhile, the data agent focuses on collecting data from real or virtual experiments, interacts with the modeler agent sequentially and generates the database for model calibration to optimize the prediction accuracy. Finally, we design a non-cooperative meta-modeling framework that focuses on automatically developing strategies that simultaneously generate experimental data to calibrate model parameters and explore weakness of a known constitutive model until the strengths and weaknesses of the constitutive law on the application range can be identified through competition. These tasks are enabled by a zero-sum reward system of the metamodeling game and robust adversarial reinforcement learning techniques.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Thesis Advisors
Sun, WaiChing
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 7, 2019