Implicit Neural Spatial Representations
for Time-dependent PDEs

ICML 2023

1Columbia University

2University of Toronto

3Massachusetts Institute of Technology

* denotes equal contribution


Implicit Neural Spatial Representation (INSR) has emerged as an effective representation of spatially-dependent vector fields. This work explores solving time-dependent PDEs with INSR. Classical PDE solvers introduce both temporal and spatial discretizations. Common spatial discretizations include meshes and meshless point clouds, where each degree-of-freedom corresponds to a location in space. While these explicit spatial correspondences are intuitive to model and understand, these representations are not necessarily optimal for accuracy, memory usage, or adaptivity. Keeping the classical temporal discretization unchanged (e.g., explicit/implicit Euler), we explore INSR as an alternative spatial discretization, where spatial information is implicitly stored in the neural network weights. The network weights then evolve over time via time integration. Our approach does not require any training data generated by existing solvers because our approach is the solver itself. We validate our approach on various PDEs with examples involving large elastic deformations, turbulent fluids, and multi-scale phenomena. While slower to compute than traditional representations, our approach exhibits higher accuracy and lower memory consumption. Whereas classical solvers can dynamically adapt their spatial representation only by resorting to complex remeshing algorithms, our INSR approach is intrinsically adaptive. By tapping into the rich literature of classic time integrators, e.g., operator-splitting schemes, our method enables challenging simulations in contact mechanics and turbulent flows where previous neural-physics approaches struggle.

Supplementary Video


      title={Implicit Neural Spatial Representations for Time-dependent PDEs},
      author={Honglin Chen and Rundi Wu and Eitan Grinspun and Changxi Zheng and Peter Yichen Chen},
      booktitle={International Conference on Machine Learning},