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Abstract:We prove that a single-layer neural network trained with the online actor critic algorithm converges in distribution to a random ordinary differential equation (ODE) as the number of hidden units and the number of training steps $\rightarrow \infty$. In the online actor-critic algorithm, the distribution of the data samples dynamically changes as the model is updated, which is a key challenge for any convergence analysis. We establish the geometric ergodicity of the data samples under a fixed actor policy. Then, using a Poisson equation, we prove that the fluctuations of the model updates around the limit distribution due to the randomly-arriving data samples vanish as the number of parameter updates $\rightarrow \infty$. Using the Poisson equation and weak convergence techniques, we prove that the actor neural network and critic neural network converge to the solutions of a system of ODEs with random initial conditions. Analysis of the limit ODE shows that the limit critic network will converge to the true value function, which will provide the actor an asymptotically unbiased estimate of the policy gradient. We then prove that the limit actor network will converge to a stationary point.

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Abstract:Mathematical methods are developed to characterize the asymptotics of recurrent neural networks (RNN) as the number of hidden units, data samples in the sequence, hidden state updates, and training steps simultaneously grow to infinity. In the case of an RNN with a simplified weight matrix, we prove the convergence of the RNN to the solution of an infinite-dimensional ODE coupled with the fixed point of a random algebraic equation. The analysis requires addressing several challenges which are unique to RNNs. In typical mean-field applications (e.g., feedforward neural networks), discrete updates are of magnitude $\mathcal{O}(\frac{1}{N})$ and the number of updates is $\mathcal{O}(N)$. Therefore, the system can be represented as an Euler approximation of an appropriate ODE/PDE, which it will converge to as $N \rightarrow \infty$. However, the RNN hidden layer updates are $\mathcal{O}(1)$. Therefore, RNNs cannot be represented as a discretization of an ODE/PDE and standard mean-field techniques cannot be applied. Instead, we develop a fixed point analysis for the evolution of the RNN memory states, with convergence estimates in terms of the number of update steps and the number of hidden units. The RNN hidden layer is studied as a function in a Sobolev space, whose evolution is governed by the data sequence (a Markov chain), the parameter updates, and its dependence on the RNN hidden layer at the previous time step. Due to the strong correlation between updates, a Poisson equation must be used to bound the fluctuations of the RNN around its limit equation. These mathematical methods give rise to the neural tangent kernel (NTK) limits for RNNs trained on data sequences as the number of data samples and size of the neural network grow to infinity.

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Abstract:Numerically solving high-dimensional partial differential equations (PDEs) is a major challenge. Conventional methods, such as finite difference methods, are unable to solve high-dimensional PDEs due to the curse-of-dimensionality. A variety of deep learning methods have been recently developed to try and solve high-dimensional PDEs by approximating the solution using a neural network. In this paper, we prove global convergence for one of the commonly-used deep learning algorithms for solving PDEs, the Deep Galerkin Method (DGM). DGM trains a neural network approximator to solve the PDE using stochastic gradient descent. We prove that, as the number of hidden units in the single-layer network goes to infinity (i.e., in the ``wide network limit"), the trained neural network converges to the solution of an infinite-dimensional linear ordinary differential equation (ODE). The PDE residual of the limiting approximator converges to zero as the training time $\rightarrow \infty$. Under mild assumptions, this convergence also implies that the neural network approximator converges to the solution of the PDE. A closely related class of deep learning methods for PDEs is Physics Informed Neural Networks (PINNs). Using the same mathematical techniques, we can prove a similar global convergence result for the PINN neural network approximators. Both proofs require analyzing a kernel function in the limit ODE governing the evolution of the limit neural network approximator. A key technical challenge is that the kernel function, which is a composition of the PDE operator and the neural tangent kernel (NTK) operator, lacks a spectral gap, therefore requiring a careful analysis of its properties.

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Abstract:Deep learning (DL) has recently emerged as a candidate for closure modeling of large-eddy simulation (LES) of turbulent flows. High-fidelity training data is typically limited: it is computationally costly (or even impossible) to numerically generate at high Reynolds numbers, while experimental data is also expensive to produce and might only include sparse/aggregate flow measurements. Thus, only a relatively small number of geometries and physical regimes will realistically be included in any training dataset. Limited data can lead to overfitting and therefore inaccurate predictions for geometries and physical regimes that are different from the training cases. We develop a new online training method for deep learning closure models in LES which seeks to address this challenge. The deep learning closure model is dynamically trained during a large-eddy simulation (LES) calculation using embedded direct numerical simulation (DNS) data. That is, in a small subset of the domain, the flow is computed at DNS resolutions in concert with the LES prediction. The closure model then adjusts its approximation to the unclosed terms using data from the embedded DNS. Consequently, the closure model is trained on data from the exact geometry/physical regime of the prediction at hand. An online optimization algorithm is developed to dynamically train the deep learning closure model in the coupled, LES-embedded DNS calculation.

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Abstract:A deep learning (DL) closure model for large-eddy simulation (LES) is developed and evaluated for incompressible flows around a rectangular cylinder at moderate Reynolds numbers. Near-wall flow simulation remains a central challenge in aerodynamic modeling: RANS predictions of separated flows are often inaccurate, while LES can require prohibitively small near-wall mesh sizes. The DL-LES model is trained using adjoint PDE optimization methods to match, as closely as possible, direct numerical simulation (DNS) data. It is then evaluated out-of-sample (i.e., for new aspect ratios and Reynolds numbers not included in the training data) and compared against a standard LES model (the dynamic Smagorinsky model). The DL-LES model outperforms dynamic Smagorinsky and is able to achieve accurate LES predictions on a relatively coarse mesh (downsampled from the DNS grid by a factor of four in each Cartesian direction). We study the accuracy of the DL-LES model for predicting the drag coefficient, mean flow, and Reynolds stress. A crucial challenge is that the LES quantities of interest are the steady-state flow statistics; for example, the time-averaged mean velocity $\bar{u}(x) = \displaystyle \lim_{t \rightarrow \infty} \frac{1}{t} \int_0^t u(s,x) ds$. Calculating the steady-state flow statistics therefore requires simulating the DL-LES equations over a large number of flow times through the domain; it is a non-trivial question whether an unsteady partial differential equation model whose functional form is defined by a deep neural network can remain stable and accurate on $t \in [0, \infty)$. Our results demonstrate that the DL-LES model is accurate and stable over large physical time spans, enabling the estimation of the steady-state statistics for the velocity, fluctuations, and drag coefficient of turbulent flows around bluff bodies relevant to aerodynamic applications.

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Abstract:Optimizing over the stationary distribution of stochastic differential equations (SDEs) is computationally challenging. A new forward propagation algorithm has been recently proposed for the online optimization of SDEs. The algorithm solves an SDE, derived using forward differentiation, which provides a stochastic estimate for the gradient. The algorithm continuously updates the SDE model's parameters and the gradient estimate simultaneously. This paper studies the convergence of the forward propagation algorithm for nonlinear dissipative SDEs. We leverage the ergodicity of this class of nonlinear SDEs to characterize the convergence rate of the transition semi-group and its derivatives. Then, we prove bounds on the solution of a Poisson partial differential equation (PDE) for the expected time integral of the algorithm's stochastic fluctuations around the direction of steepest descent. We then re-write the algorithm using the PDE solution, which allows us to characterize the parameter evolution around the direction of steepest descent. Our main result is a convergence theorem for the forward propagation algorithm for nonlinear dissipative SDEs.

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Abstract:Solving high-dimensional partial differential equations (PDEs) is a major challenge in scientific computing. We develop a new numerical method for solving elliptic-type PDEs by adapting the Q-learning algorithm in reinforcement learning. Our "Q-PDE" algorithm is mesh-free and therefore has the potential to overcome the curse of dimensionality. Using a neural tangent kernel (NTK) approach, we prove that the neural network approximator for the PDE solution, trained with the Q-PDE algorithm, converges to the trajectory of an infinite-dimensional ordinary differential equation (ODE) as the number of hidden units $\rightarrow \infty$. For monotone PDE (i.e. those given by monotone operators, which may be nonlinear), despite the lack of a spectral gap in the NTK, we then prove that the limit neural network, which satisfies the infinite-dimensional ODE, converges in $L^2$ to the PDE solution as the training time $\rightarrow \infty$. More generally, we can prove that any fixed point of the wide-network limit for the Q-PDE algorithm is a solution of the PDE (not necessarily under the monotone condition). The numerical performance of the Q-PDE algorithm is studied for several elliptic PDEs.

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Abstract:We develop a new continuous-time stochastic gradient descent method for optimizing over the stationary distribution of stochastic differential equation (SDE) models. The algorithm continuously updates the SDE model's parameters using an estimate for the gradient of the stationary distribution. The gradient estimate is simultaneously updated, asymptotically converging to the direction of steepest descent. We rigorously prove convergence of our online algorithm for linear SDE models and present numerical results for nonlinear examples. The proof requires analysis of the fluctuations of the parameter evolution around the direction of steepest descent. Bounds on the fluctuations are challenging to obtain due to the online nature of the algorithm (e.g., the stationary distribution will continuously change as the parameters change). We prove bounds for the solutions of a new class of Poisson partial differential equations, which are then used to analyze the parameter fluctuations in the algorithm.

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Abstract:Actor-critic algorithms are widely used in reinforcement learning, but are challenging to mathematically analyze due to the online arrival of non-i.i.d. data samples. The distribution of the data samples dynamically changes as the model is updated, introducing a complex feedback loop between the data distribution and the reinforcement learning algorithm. We prove that, under a time rescaling, the online actor-critic algorithm with tabular parametrization converges to an ordinary differential equations (ODEs) as the number of updates becomes large. The proof first establishes the geometric ergodicity of the data samples under a fixed actor policy. Then, using a Poisson equation, we prove that the fluctuations of the data samples around a dynamic probability measure, which is a function of the evolving actor model, vanish as the number of updates become large. Once the ODE limit has been derived, we study its convergence properties using a two time-scale analysis which asymptotically de-couples the critic ODE from the actor ODE. The convergence of the critic to the solution of the Bellman equation and the actor to the optimal policy are proven. In addition, a convergence rate to this global minimum is also established. Our convergence analysis holds under specific choices for the learning rates and exploration rates in the actor-critic algorithm, which could provide guidance for the implementation of actor-critic algorithms in practice.

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Abstract:Recent research has used deep learning to develop partial differential equation (PDE) models in science and engineering. The functional form of the PDE is determined by a neural network, and the neural network parameters are calibrated to available data. Calibration of the embedded neural network can be performed by optimizing over the PDE. Motivated by these applications, we rigorously study the optimization of a class of linear elliptic PDEs with neural network terms. The neural network parameters in the PDE are optimized using gradient descent, where the gradient is evaluated using an adjoint PDE. As the number of parameters become large, the PDE and adjoint PDE converge to a non-local PDE system. Using this limit PDE system, we are able to prove convergence of the neural network-PDE to a global minimum during the optimization. The limit PDE system contains a non-local linear operator whose eigenvalues are positive but become arbitrarily small. The lack of a spectral gap for the eigenvalues poses the main challenge for the global convergence proof. Careful analysis of the spectral decomposition of the coupled PDE and adjoint PDE system is required. Finally, we use this adjoint method to train a neural network model for an application in fluid mechanics, in which the neural network functions as a closure model for the Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) equations. The RANS neural network model is trained on several datasets for turbulent channel flow and is evaluated out-of-sample at different Reynolds numbers.

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