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Benchmarking Autoregressive Conditional Diffusion Models for Turbulent Flow Simulation

Georg KohlLi-Wei ChenNils Thuerey
Jan 2024
Simulating turbulent flows is crucial for a wide range of applications, and machine learning-based solvers are gaining increasing relevance. However, achieving temporal stability when generalizing to longer rollout horizons remains a persistent challenge for learned PDE solvers. In this work, we analyze if fully data-driven fluid solvers that utilize an autoregressive rollout based on conditional diffusion models are a viable option to address this challenge. We investigate accuracy, posterior sampling, spectral behavior, and temporal stability, while requiring that methods generalize to flow parameters beyond the training regime. To quantitatively and qualitatively benchmark the performance of a range of flow prediction approaches, three challenging scenarios including incompressible and transonic flows, as well as isotropic turbulence are employed. We find that even simple diffusion-based approaches can outperform multiple established flow prediction methods in terms of accuracy and temporal stability, while being on par with state-of-the-art stabilization techniques like unrolling at training time. Such traditional architectures are superior in terms of inference speed, however, the probabilistic nature of diffusion approaches allows for inferring multiple predictions that align with the statistics of the underlying physics. Overall, our benchmark contains three carefully chosen data sets that are suitable for probabilistic evaluation alongside various established flow prediction architectures.
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