From: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Published September 22, 2017 04:59 PM

Technique spots warning signs of extreme events

Many extreme events — from a rogue wave that rises up from calm waters, to an  instability inside a gas turbine, to the sudden extinction of a previously hardy wildlife species — seem to occur without warning. It’s often impossible to predict when such bursts of instability will strike, particularly in systems with a complex and ever-changing mix of players and pieces.

Now engineers at MIT have devised a framework for identifying key patterns that precede an extreme event. The framework can be applied to a wide range of complicated, multidimensional systems to pick out the warning signs that are most likely to occur in the real world.

“Currently there is no method to explain when these extreme events occur,” says Themistoklis Sapsis, associate professor of mechanical and ocean engineering at MIT. “We have applied this framework to turbulent fluid flows, which are the Holy Grail of extreme events. They’re encountered in climate dynamics in the form of extreme rainfall, in engineering fluid flows such as stresses around an airfoil, and acoustic instabilities inside gas turbines. If we can predict the occurrence of these extreme events, hopefully we can apply some control strategies to avoid them.”

Continue reading at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Image Credit: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

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