Strong Solutions for PDE-Based Tomography by Unsupervised Learning

Leah Bar, Nir Sochen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We introduce a novel neural network-based PDEs solver for forward and inverse problems. The solver is grid free, mesh free, and shape free, and the solution is approximated by a neural network. We employ an unsupervised approach such that the input to the network is a point set in an arbitrary domain, and the output is the set of the corresponding function values. The network is trained to minimize deviations of the learned function from the PDE solution and satisfy the boundary conditions. The resulting solution in turn is an explicit, smooth, differentiable function with a known analytical form. We solve the forward problem (observations given the underlying model's parameters), semi-inverse problem (model's parameters given the observations in the whole domain), and full tomography inverse problem (model's parameters given the observations on the boundary) by solving the forward and semi-inverse problems at the same time. The optimized loss function consists of few elements: fidelity term of L2 norm that enforces the PDE in the weak sense, an L norm term that enforces pointwise fidelity and thus promotes a strong solution, and boundary and initial conditions constraints. It further accommodates regularizers for the solution and/or the model's parameters of the differential operator. This setting is flexible in the sense that regularizers can be tailored to specific problems. We demonstrate our method on several free shape two dimensional (2D) second order systems with application to electrical impedance tomography (EIT) and diffusion equation. Unlike other numerical methods such as finite differences and finite elements, the derivatives of the desired function can be analytically calculated to any order. This framework enables, in principle, the solution of high order and high dimensional nonlinear PDEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-155
Number of pages28
JournalSIAM Journal on Imaging Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • EIT
  • PDEs
  • deep networks
  • forward problems
  • inverse problems
  • unsupervised learning


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