D-CIPHER: Discovery of Closed-form Partial Differential Equations

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Krzysztof Kacprzyk, Zhaozhi Qian, Mihaela van der Schaar


Closed-form differential equations, including partial differential equations and higher-order ordinary differential equations, are one of the most important tools used by scientists to model and better understand natural phenomena. Discovering these equations directly from data is challenging because it requires modeling relationships between various derivatives that are not observed in the data (equation-data mismatch) and it involves searching across a huge space of possible equations. Current approaches make strong assumptions about the form of the equation and thus fail to discover many well-known phenomena. Moreover, many of them resolve the equation-data mismatch by estimating the derivatives, which makes them inadequate for noisy and infrequent observations. To this end, we propose D-CIPHER, which is robust to measurement artifacts and can uncover a new and very general class of differential equations. We further design a novel optimization procedure, CoLLie, to help D-CIPHER search through this class efficiently. Finally, we demonstrate empirically that it can discover many well-known equations that are beyond the capabilities of current methods.