eScience Center grants CWI project on differentiable programming

Benjamin Sanderse and his Scientific Computing group received a grant from the Netherlands eScience Center to develop a new software framework. This framework will be used to discover new physics models using data-driven neural networks (NNs) and the concept of differentiable software programs. In particular, Sanderse aims for discovering so-called ‘closure models’ which represent the effect of small scales on large scales.

Publication date
26 Jan 2023

Each year, the Netherlands eScience Center puts out a series of calls for proposals which offer a unique opportunity for researchers to enhance their work through digital methodologies. Modern day research is nearly impossible to carry out without research software. Therefore the eScience Center gives research groups the opportunity to collaborate with their research software engineers, who advise and develop research software. This way researchers can focus on all other aspects of the project.

About the project

The granted CWI-project is called DEEPDIP: Discovering deep physics models with differentiable programming.

Many physics models feature terms that are either partially unknown or too expensive to simulate. Discovering effective equations that represent such terms is a fundamental challenge in computational science. Multi-scale models are a prominent example: the large-scale behavior is of main interest, but this cannot be obtained without resolving the fine scales. A well-known example occurs in climate models, which rely on the effect of clouds for accurate forecasts, but simulating clouds individually is computationally intractable.

Sanderse’s group proposes a new software framework to extend generic physics models with data-driven neural networks (NNs) that represent the effect of small scales on large scales. The framework will use differentiable programming, allowing to couple multi-scale models and NNs while embedded in a learning environment. The framework is tested on turbulent fluid flows. In particular, new differentiable wind-turbine wake models will be developed, to be used for optimal control of wind farms.

About the Netherlands eScience Center

Founded in 2012 as an independent foundation by NWO and SURF, the Netherlands eScience Center is a national center that aims to create innovative software solutions in academic research. The center awards research projects based on calls for proposals, and trains researchers in the use of research software. It offers its expertise in the form of research software engineers, technology specialists with expert digital skills.


Scientific Computing group