Predicting drag on rough surfaces by transfer learning of empirical correlations

Sangseung Lee*, Jiasheng Yang, Pourya Forooghi, Alexander Stroh, Shervin Bagheri*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Recent developments in neural networks have shown the potential of estimating drag on irregular rough surfaces. Nevertheless, the difficulty of obtaining a large high-fidelity dataset to train neural networks is deterring their use in practical applications. In this study, we propose a transfer learning framework to model the drag on irregular rough surfaces even with a limited amount of direct numerical simulations. We show that transfer learning of empirical correlations, reported in the literature, can significantly improve the performance of neural networks for drag prediction. This is because empirical correlations include 'approximate knowledge' of the drag dependency in high-fidelity physics. The 'approximate knowledge' allows neural networks to learn the surface statistics known to affect drag more efficiently. The developed framework can be applied to applications where acquiring a large dataset is difficult but empirical correlations have been reported.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA18
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2022


  • machine learning


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