CORE - Geological modeling with GemPy

In this section, we describe the core functionality of GemPy: the construction of 3-D geological models from geological input data (surface contact points and orientation measurements) and defined topological relationships (stratigraphic sequences and fault networks). We begin with a brief review of the theory underlying the implemented interpolation algorithm. We then describe the translation of this algorithm and the subsequent model generation and visualisation using the Python front-end of GemPy and how an entire model can be constructed by calling only a few functions. Across the text, we include code snippets with minimal working examples to demonstrate the use of the library.

After describing the simple functionality required to construct models, we go deeper into the underlying architecture of GemPy. This part is not only relevant for advanced users and potential developers, but also highlights a key aspect: the link to Theano [B1], a highly evolved Python library for efficient vector algebra and machine learning, which is an essential aspect required for making use of the more advanced aspects of stochastic geomodeling and Bayesian inversion, which will also be explained in the subsequent sections.

Geological modeling and the potential-field approach

Concept of the potential-field method

The potential-field method developed by [B2] is the central method to generate the 3D geological models in GemPy, which has already been successfully deployed in the modeling software GeoModeller 3-D see [B3]. The general idea is to construct an interpolation function \(\textbf{Z}({\bf{x}}_{0})\) where \(\text{x}\) is any point in the continuous three-dimensional space (\(x, y, z\)) \(\in \mathbb{R}^3\) which describes the domain \(\mathcal{D}\) as a scalar field. The gradient of the scalar field will follow the direction of the anisotropy of the stratigraphic structure or, in other words, every possible isosurface of the scalar field will represent every synchronal deposition of the layer (see figure [fig:potfield]).

Let’s break down what we actually mean by this: Imagine that a geological setting is formed by a perfect sequence of horizontal layers piled one above the other. If we know the exact timing of when one of these surfaces was deposited, we would know that any layer above had to occur afterwards while any layer below had to be deposited earlier in time. Obviously, we cannot have data for each of these infinitesimal synchronal layers, but we can interpolate the “date” between them. In reality, the exact year of the synchronal deposition is meaningless—since the related uncertainty would be out of proportion. What has value to generate a 3D geomodel is the location of those synchronal layers and especially the lithological interfaces where the change of physical properties are notable. Due to this, instead interpolating time, we use a simple dimensionless parameter—that we simply refer to as scalar field value.

The advantages of using a global interpolator instead of interpolating each layer of interest independently are twofold: (i) the location of one layer affects the location of others in the same depositional environment, making impossible for two layers in the same potential field to cross; and (ii) it enables the use of data in-between the interfaces of interest, opening the range of possible measurements that can be used in the interpolation.

Example of scalar field. The input data is formed by six points distributed in two layers (\({\bf{x}}_{\alpha \, i}^1\) and \({\bf{x}}_{\alpha \, i}^2\)) and and two orientations (\({\bf{x}}_{\beta \, j}\)). A isosurface connect the interface points and the scalar field is perpendicular to the foliation gradient.

The interpolation function is obtained as a weighted interpolation based on Universal CoKriging [B4]. Kriging or Gaussian process regression [B5] is a spatial interpolation that treats each input as a random variable, aiming to minimize the covariance function to obtain the best linear unbiased predictor [B6]. Furthermore, it is possible to combine more than one type of data—i.e. a multivariate case or CoKriging—to increase the amount of information in the interpolator, as long as we capture their relation using a cross-covariance. The main advantage in our case is to be able to utilize data sampled from different locations in space for the estimation. Simple Kriging, as a regression, only minimizes the second moment of the data (or variances). However in most geological settings, we can expect linear trends in our data—i.e. the mean thickness of a layer varies across the region linearly. This trend is captured using polynomial drift functions to the system of equations in what is called Universal Kriging.

Adjustments to structural geological modeling

So far we have shown what we want to obtain and how Universal CoKriging is a suitable interpolation method to get there. In the following, we will describe the concrete steps from taking our input data to the final interpolation function \(\textbf{Z}({\bf{x}}_{0})\), which describes the domain. Much of the complexity of the method comes from the difficulty of keeping highly nested nomenclature consistent across literature. For this reason, we will try to be especially verbose regarding the mathematical terminology. The terms of potential field (original coined by [B2]) and scalar field (preferred by the authors) are used interchangeably across the paper. The result of a Kriging interpolation is a random function and hence both interpolation function and random function are used to refer the function of interest \(\textbf{Z}({\bf{x}}_{0})\). The CoKriging nomenclature quickly grows complicated, since it has to consider p random functions \(\bf{Z}_{\it{i}}\), with \(p\) being the number of distinct parameters involved in the interpolation, sampled at different points \(\bf{x}\) of the three-dimensional domain \(\mathbb{R}^3\). Two types of parameters are used to characterize the scalar field in the interpolation: (i) layer interface points \({\bf{x}}_{\alpha}\) describing the respective isosurfaces of interest—usually the interface between two layers; and (ii) the gradients of the scalar field, \({\bf{x}}_{\beta}\)—or in geological terms: poles of the layer, i.e. normal vectors to the dip plane. Therefore gradients will be oriented perpendicular to the isosurfaces and can be located anywhere in space. We will refer to the main random function—the scalar field itself—\({\bf{Z}}_{\alpha}\) simply as \(\bf{Z}\), and its set of samples as \({\bf{x}}_{\alpha}\) while the second random function \({\bf{Z}}_{\beta}\)—the gradient of the scalar field—will be referred to as \(\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u\) and its samples as \({\bf{x}}_{\beta}\), so that we can capture the relationship between the potential field \(\bf{Z}\) and its gradient as

\[\frac{\partial \bf{Z}}{\partial u}(x) = \lim_{\it{p}\to 0} \frac{ {\bf{Z}} (x+pu)-{\bf{Z}}(x)}{p} \label{eq_der}\]

It is also important to keep the values of every individual synchronal layer identified since they have the same scalar field value. Therefore, samples that belong to a single layer \(k\) will be expressed as a subset denoted using superscript as \({\bf{x}}_\alpha ^k\) and every individual point by a subscript, \({\bf{x}}_{\alpha \, i}^k\) (see figure [fig:potfield]).

Note that in this context data does not have any meaningful physical parameter associated with it that we want to interpolate as long as stratigraphic deposition follows gradient direction. Therefore the two constraints we want to conserve in the interpolated scalar field are: (i) all points belonging to a determined interface \({\bf{x}}_{\alpha \, i}^k\) must have the same scalar field value (i.e. there is an isosurface connecting all data points)

\[{{\bf{Z}}( \bf{x}}_{\alpha_\, i}^k ) - {\bf{Z}}({\bf{x}}_{\alpha_\, 0}^k) = 0 \label{eq_rel}\]

where \({\bf{x}}_{\alpha_\, 0}^k\) is a reference point of the interface and (ii) the scalar field will be perpendicular to the poles \({\bf{x}}_{\beta}\) anywhere in 3-D space.

Considering equation [eq_rel], we do not care about the exact value at \({{\bf{Z}}(\bf{x}}_{\alpha_\, i}^k)\) as long as it is constant at all points \({\bf{x}}_{\alpha_\, i}^k\). Therefore, the random function Z in the CoKriging system (equation [krig_sys]) can be substituted by equation [eq_rel]. This formulation entails that the specific scalar field values will depend only on the gradients and hence at least one gradient is necessary to keep the system of equations defined. The reason for this formulation rest on that by not fixing the values of each interface \({{\bf{Z}}( \bf{x}}_{\alpha}^k )\), the compression of layers—which is derived by the gradients—can propagate smoother beyond the given interfaces. Otherwise, the gradients will only have effect in the area within the boundaries of the two interfaces that contains the variable.

The algebraic dependency between Z and \(\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u\) (equation [eq_der]) gives a mathematical definition of the relation between the two variables avoiding the need of an empirical cross-variogram, enabling instead the use of the derivation of the covariance function. This dependency must be taken into consideration in the computation of the drift of the first moment as well having a different function for each of the variables

\[\lambda F_1 + \lambda F_2 = f_{10}\]

where \(F_1\) is a the polynomial of degree \(n\) and \(F_2\) its derivative. Having taken this into consideration, the resulting CoKriging system takes the form of:

\[\begin{split}\left[ \begin{array}{ccc} {\bf{C_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, \partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial v}}} & {\bf{C_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, Z}}} & \bf{U_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}} \\ {\bf{C_{Z, \, \partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u }}} & {\bf{C_{\bf{Z}, \, \bf{Z}}}} & {\bf{U_{Z}}} \\ \bf{U'_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}} & {\bf{U'_{Z}}} & {\bf{0}} \end{array} \right] \left[ \begin{array}{cc} \lambda_{{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, \partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial v}} & \lambda_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, Z}\\ \lambda_{Z, \,\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u} & \lambda_{\bf{Z}, \,\bf{Z}}\\ {\mu_{\partial {\text{u}}}} & {\mu_{\text{u}}} \end{array} \right] = \left[ \begin{array}{cc} {\bf{c_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, \partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial v}}} & {\bf{c_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, Z}}} \\ {\bf{c_{Z, \,\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}}} & {\bf{c_{\bf{Z}, \,\bf{Z}}}} \\ {\bf{f_{10}}} & {\bf{f_{20}}} \end{array} \right] \label{krig_sys}\end{split}\]

where, \({\bf{C_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}}}\) is the gradient covariance-matrix; \({\bf{C_{\bf{Z}, \, \bf{Z}}}}\) the covariance-matrix of the differences between each interface points to reference points in each layer

\[{{C}}_{{\bf{x}}_{\alpha \, i}^r, \, {\bf{x}}_{\alpha \,j}^s} = C_{x^r_{\alpha, \,i} \, x^s_{\alpha, \,j}} - C_{x^r_{\alpha, \,0} \, x^s_{\alpha, \,j}} - C_{x^r_{\alpha, \,i} \, x^s_{\alpha, \,0}} + C_{x^r_{\alpha, \,0} \, x^s_{\alpha, \,0}} \label{one_val}\]

(see Appendix [interface-covariance-matrix] for further analysis); \({\bf{C_{Z, \, \partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u }}}\) encapsulates the cross-covariance function; and \({\bf{U_{Z}}}\) and \(\bf{U'_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}}\) are the drift functions and their gradient, respectively. On the right hand side we find the vector of the matrix system of equations, being :math:`{bf{c_{partial {bf{Z}}/ partial u, , partial {bf{Z}}/ partial

v}}}` the gradient of the covariance function to the point x

of interest; \({\bf{c_{Z, \,\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}}}\) the cross-covariance; \({\bf{c_{\bf{Z}, \,\bf{Z}}}}\) the actual covariance function; and \({\bf{f_{10}}}\) and \({\bf{f_{20}}}\) the gradient of the drift functions and the drift functions themselves. Lastly, the unknown vectors are formed by the corresponding weights, \(\lambda\), and constants of the drift functions, \(\mu\). A more detail inspection of this system of equations is carried out in Appendix [kse].

As we can see in equation [krig_sys], it is possible to solve the Kriging system for the scalar field Z (second column in the weights vector), as well as its derivative \(\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u\) (first column in the weights vector). Even though the main goal is the segmentation of the layers, which is done using the value of Z (see Section [from-potential-field-to-block]), the gradient of the scalar field can be used for further mathematical applications, such as meshing, geophysical forward calculations or locating geological structures of interest (e.g. spill points of a hydrocarbon trap).

Furthermore, since the choice of covariance parameters is ad hoc (Appendix [covariance-function-cubic.-discuss-it-with-france] show the used covariance function in GemPy), the uncertainty derived by the Kriging interpolation does not bear any physical meaning. This fact promotes the idea of only using the mean value of the Kriging solution. For this reason it is recommended to solve the Kriging system (equation [krig_sys]) in its dual form [B5].

Geological model interpolation using GemPy

From scalar field to geological block model

In most scenarios the goal of structural modeling is to define the spatial distribution of geological structures, such as layers interfaces and faults. In practice, this segmentation usually is done either by using a volumetric discretization or by depicting the interfaces as surfaces.

The result of the Kriging interpolation is the random function \(\textbf{Z}(x)\) (and its gradient \(\partial {\bf{Z}} / \partial u (x)\), which we will omit in the following), which allows the evaluation of the value of the scalar field at any given point \(x\) in space. From this point on, the easiest way to segment the domains is to discretize the 3-D space (e.g. we use a regular grid in figure [fig:model_comp]). First, we need to calculate the scalar value at every interface by computing \({{\bf{Z}}( \bf{x}}_{\alpha, i}^k)\) for every interface \(k_i\). Once we know the value of the scalar field at the interfaces, we evaluate every point of the mesh and compare their value to those at the interfaces, identifying every point of the mesh with a topological volume. Each of these compartmentalizations will represent each individual domain, this is, each lithology of interest (see figure [fig:model_comp]a).

At the time of this manuscript preparation, GemPy only provides rectilinear grids but it is important to notice that the computation of the scalar field happens in continuous space, and therefore allows the use of any type of mesh. The result of this type of segmentation is referred in GemPy as a lithology block.

The second segmentation alternative consist on locating the layer isosurfaces. GemPy makes use of the marching cube algorithm [B7] provided by the scikit-image library [B8]. The basics of the marching cube algorithm are quite intuitive: (i) First, we discretize the volume in 3-D voxels and by comparison we look if the value of the isosurface we want to extract falls within the boundary of every single voxel; (ii) if so, for each edge of the voxel, we interpolate the values at the corners of the cube to obtain the coordinates of the intersection between the edges of the voxels and the isosurface of interest, commonly referred to as vertices; (iii) those intersections are analyzed and compared against all possible configurations to define the simplices (i.e. the vertices which form an individual polygon) of the triangles. Once we obtain the coordinates of vertices and their correspondent simplices, we can use them for visualization (see Section [vis]) or any sub-sequential computation that may make use of them (e.g. weighted voxels). For more information on meshing algorithms refer to [B9].

import gempy as gp

# Main data management object containing
geo_data = gp.create_data(extent=[0, 20, 0, 10, -10, 0],
              resolution=[100, 10, 100],

# Creating object with data prepared for interpolation and compiling
interp_data = gp.InterpolatorData(geo_data)

# Computing result
lith, fault = gp.compute_model(interp_data)

# Plotting result: scalar field
gp.plot_scalar_field(geo_data, lith[1], 5, plot_data=True)

# Plotting result: lithology block
gp.plot_section(geo_data, lith[0], 5, plot_data=True)

# Getting vertices and faces
vertices, simpleces = gp.get_surfaces(interp_data, lith[1], [fault[1]], original_scale=True)

Example of different lithological units and their relation to scalar fields. a) Simple stratigraphic sequence generated from a scalar field as product of the interpolation of interface points and orientation gradients. b) Addition of an unconformity horizon from which the unconformity layer behaves independently from the older layers by overlying a second scalar field. c) Combination of unconformity and faulting using three scalar fields.

Combining scalar fields: Depositional series and faults

In reality, most geological settings are formed by a concatenation of depositional phases partitioned by unconformity boundaries and subjected to tectonic stresses which displace and deform the layers. While the interpolation is able to represent realistic folding—given enough data—the method fails to describe discontinuities. To overcome this limitation, it is possible to combine several scalar fields to recreate the desired result.

So far the implemented discontinuities in GemPy are unconformities and infinite faults. Both types are computed by specific combinations of independent scalar fields. We call these independent scalar fields series from stratigraphic series in accordance to the use in GeoModeller 3-D] and in essence, they represent a subset of grouped interfaces—either layers or fault planes—that are interpolated together and therefore their spatial location affect each other. To handle and visualize these relationships, we use a so called sequential pile; representing the order—from the first scalar field to the last—and the grouping of the layers (see figure [fig:model_comp]).

Modeling unconformities is rather straightforward. Once we have grouped the layers into their respective series, younger series will overlay older ones beyond the unconformity. The scalar fields themselves, computed for each of these series, could be seen as a continuous depositional sequence in the absence of an unconformity.

import gempy as gp

# Main data management object containing
geo_data = gp.create_data(extent=[0, 20, 0, 10, -10, 0],
              resolution=[100, 10, 100],

# Defining the series of the sequential pile
         {'younger_serie' : 'Unconformity', 'older_serie': ('Layer1', 'Layer2')},
         order_formations= ['Unconformity', 'Layer2', 'Layer1'])

# Creating object with data prepared for interpolation and compiling
interp_data = gp.InterpolatorData(geo_data)

# Computing result
lith, fault = gp.compute_model(interp_data)

# Plotting result
gp.plot_section(geo_data, lith[0], 5, plot_data=True)

Faults are modeled by the inclusion of an extra drift term into the kriging system [B10]:

\[\begin{split}\left[ \begin{array}{cccc} {\bf{C_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, \partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial v}}} & {\bf{C_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, Z}}} & \bf{U_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}} & \bf{F_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}} \\ {\bf{C_{Z, \, \partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u }}} & {\bf{C_{\bf{Z}, \, \bf{Z}}}} & {\bf{U_{Z}}} & {\bf{F_{Z}}} \\ \bf{U'_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}} & {\bf{U'_{Z}}} & {\bf{0}} & {\bf{0}} \\ \bf{F'_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}} & {\bf{F'_{Z}}} & {\bf{0}} & {\bf{0}} \end{array} \right] \left[ \begin{array}{cc} \lambda_{{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, \partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial v}} & \lambda_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, Z}\\ \lambda_{Z, \,\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u} & \lambda_{\bf{Z}, \,\bf{Z}}\\ {\mu_{\partial {\text{u}}}} & {\mu_{\text{u}}} \\ {\mu_{\partial {\text{f}}}} & {\mu_{\text{f}}} \end{array} \right] = \left[ \begin{array}{cc} {\bf{c_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, \partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial v}}} & {\bf{c_{\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u, \, Z}}} \\ {\bf{c_{Z, \,\partial {\bf{Z}}/ \partial u}}} & {\bf{c_{\bf{Z}, \,\bf{Z}}}} \\ {\bf{f_{10}}} & {\bf{f_{20}}} \\ {\bf{f_{10}}} & {\bf{f_{20}}} \end{array} \right] \label{krig_sys_f}\end{split}\]

which is a function of the faulting structure. This means that for every location \({\bf{x}}_{0}\) the drift function will take a value depending on the fault compartment—i.e. a segmented domain of the fault network—and other geometrical constrains such as spatial influence of a fault or variability of the offset. To obtain the offset effect of a fault, the value of the drift function has to be different at each of its sides. The level of complexity of the drift functions will determine the quality of the characterization as well as its robustness. Furthermore, finite or localize faults can be recreated by selecting an adequate function that describe those specific trends.

import gempy as gp

# Main data management object containing
geo_data = gp.create_data(extent=[0,20,0,10,-10,0],
              path_o = "paper_Foliations.csv",
              path_i = "paper_Points.csv")

# Defining the series of the sequential pile
gp.set_series(geo_data, series_distribution={'fault_serie1': 'fault1',
            'younger_serie' : 'Unconformity',
            'older_serie': ('Layer1', 'Layer2')},
order_formations= ['fault1', 'Unconformity', 'Layer2', 'Layer1'])

# Creating object with data prepared for interpolation and compiling
interp_data = gp.InterpolatorData(geo_data)

# Computing result
lith, fault = gp.compute_model(interp_data)

# Plotting result
gp.plot_section(geo_data, lith[0], 5, plot_data=True)

# Getting vertices and faces and pltting
vertices, simpleces = gp.get_surfaces(interp_data,lith[1], [fault[1]], original_scale=True)
gp.plot_surfaces_3D(geo_data, ver_s, sim_s)

The computation of the segmentation of fault compartments (called fault block in GemPy)—prior to the inclusion of the fault drift functions which depends on this segmentation—can be performed with the potential-field method itself. In the case of multiple faults, individual drift functions have to be included in the kriging system for each fault, representing the subdivision of space that they produce. Naturally, younger faults may offset older tectonic events. This behavoir is replicated by recursively adding drift functions of younger faults to the computation of the older fault blocks. To date, the fault relations—i.e. which faults offset others—is described by the user in a boolean matrix. An easy to use implementation to generate fault networks is being worked on at the time of manuscript preparation. An important detail to consider is that drift functions will bend the isosurfaces according to the given rules but they will conserve their continuity. This differs from the intuitive idea of offset, where the interface presents a sharp jump. This fact has direct impact in the geometry of the final model, and can, for example, affect certain meshing algorithms. Furthermore, in the ideal case of choosing the perfect drift function, the isosurface would bend exactly along the faulting plane. At the current state GemPy only includes the addition of an arbitrary integer to each segmented volume. This limits the quality to a constant offset, decreasing the sharpness of the offset as data deviates from that constrain. Any deviation from this theoretical concept, results in a bending of the layers as they approximate the fault plane to accommodate to the data, potentially leading to overly smooth transitions around the discontinuity.

“Under the hood”: The GemPy architecture

The graph structure

The architecture of GemPy follows the Python Software Foundation recommendations of modularity and reusability [B11]. The aim is to divide all functionality into independent small logical units in order to avoid duplication, facilitate readability and make changes to the code base easier.

The design of GemPy revolves around an automatic differentiation (AD) scheme. The main constraint is that the mathematical functions need to be continuous from the input parameters (in probabilistic jargon priors) to the cost function (or likelihoods), and therefore the code must be written in the same language (or at the very least compatible) to automatically compute the derivatives. In practice, this entails that any operation involved in the AD must be coded symbolically using the library Theano (see Section [theano] for further details). One of the constrains of writing symbolically is the a priori declaration of the possible input parameters of the graph which will behave as latent variables—i.e. the parameters we try to tune for optimization or uncertainty quantification—while leaving others involved parameters constant either due to their nature or because of the relative slight impact of their variability. This rigidity dictates the whole design of input data management that needs to revolved around the preexistent symbolic graph.

GemPy encapsulates this creation of the symbolic graph in its the module theanograph. Due to the significant complexity to program symbolically, features shipped in GemPy that rely heavily in external libraries are not written in Theano. The current functionality written in Theano can be seen in the figure [fig:overall] and essentially it encompasses all the interpolation of the geological modeling (section [kriging]) as well as forward calculation of the gravity (section [gravity]).

Graph of the logical structure of GemPy logic. There are several levels of abstraction represented. (i) The first division is between the implicit interpolation of the geological modeling (dark gray) and other subsequent operations for different objectives (light gray). (ii) All the logic required to perform automatic differentiation is presented under the “Theano” label (in purple) (iii) The parts under labels “Looping pile” (green) and “Single potential field” (gray), divide the logic to control the input data of each necessary scalar field and the operations within one of them. (iv) Finally, each superset of parameters is color coded according to their probabilistic nature and behavior in the graph: in blue, stochastic variables (priors or likelihoods); in yellow, deterministic functions; and in red the inputs of the graph, which are either stochastic or constant depending on the problem.

Regarding data structure, we make use of the Python package pandas [B12] to store and prepare the input data for the symbolic graph (red nodes in figure [fig:overall]) or other processes, such as visualization. All the methodology to create, export and manipulate the original data is encapsulated in the class DataManagement. This class has several child classes to facilitate specific precomputation manipulations of data structures (e.g. for meshing). The aim is to have all constant data prepared before any inference or optimization is carried out to minimize the computational overhead of each iteration as much as possible.

It is important to keep in mind that, in this structure, once data enters the part of the symbolic graph, only algebraic operations are allowed. This limits the use of many high-level coding structures (e.g. dictionaries or undefined loops) and external dependencies. As a result of that, the preparation of data must be exhaustive before starting the computation. This includes ordering the data within the arrays, passing the exact lengths of the subsets we will need later on during the interpolation or the calculation of many necessary constant parameters. The preprocessing of data is done within the sub-classes of DataManagement, the InterpolatorData class–of which an instance is used to call the Theano graph—and InterpolatorClass—which creates the the Theano variables and compiles the symbolic graph.

The rest of the package is formed by—an always growing—series of modules that perform different tasks using the geological model as input (see Section [sec:model-analys-furth] and the assets-area in figure [fig:overall]).


Efficiently solving a large number of algebraic equations, and especially their derivatives, can easily get unmanageable in terms of both time and memory. Up to this point we have referenced many times Theano and its related terms such as automatic differentiation or symbolic programming. In this section we will motivate its use and why its capabilities make all the difference in making implicit geological modeling available for uncertainty analysis.

Theano is a Python package that takes over many of the optimization tasks in order to create a computationally feasible code implementation. Theano relies on the creation of symbolical graphs that represent the mathematical expressions to compute. Most of the extended programming paradigms e.g. procedural languages and object-oriented programming; see [B13] are executed sequentially without any interaction with the subsequent instructions. In other words, a later instruction has access to the memory states but is clueless about the previous instructions that have modified mentioned states. In contrast, symbolic programming define from the beginning to the end not only the primary data structure but also the complete logic of a function , which in turn enables the optimization (e.g. redundancy) and manipulation (e.g. derivatives) of its logic.

Within the Python implementation, Theano create an acyclic network graph where the parameters are represented by nodes, while the connections determine mathematical operators that relate them. The creation of the graph is done in the class theanograph. Each individual method corresponds to a piece of the graph starting from the input data all the way to the geological model or the forward gravity (see figure [fig:overall], purple Theano area).

The symbolic graph is later analyzed to perform the optimization, the symbolic differentiation and the compilation to a faster language than Python (C or CUDA). This process is computational demanding and therefore it must be avoided as much as possible.

Among the most outstanding optimizers shipped with Theano [B1], we can find : (i) the canonicalization of the operations to reduce the number of duplicated computations, (ii) specialization of operations to improve consecutive element-wise operations, (iii) in-place operations to avoid duplications of memory or (iv) Open MP parallelization for CPU computations. These optimizations and more can speed up the code an order of magnitude.

However, although Theano code optimization is useful, the real game-changer is its capability to perform automatic differentiation. There is extensive literature explaining all the ins and outs and intuitions of the method since it is a core algorithm to train neural networks e.g. a detailed explanation is given by [B14]. Here, we will highlight the main differences with numerical approaches and how they can be used to improve the modeling process.

Many of the most advanced algorithms in computer science rely on an inverse framework i.e. the result of a forward computation \(f(\textbf{x})\) influences the value of one or many of the \(\textbf{x}\) latent variables (e.g. neuronal networks, optimizations, inferences). The most emblematic example of this is the optimization of a cost function. All these problems can be described as an exploration of a multidimensional manifold \(f: \mathbb{R}^N \rightarrow \mathbb{R}\). Hence the gradient of the function \(\nabla f = \left(\frac{\partial f}{\partial x_1}, \frac{\partial f}{\partial x_2}, ..., \frac{\partial f}{\partial x_n}\right)\) becomes key for an efficient analysis. In case that the output is also multidimensional—i.e. \(f: \mathbb{R}^N \rightarrow \mathbb{R}^M\)—the entire manifold gradient can be expressed by the Jacobian matrix

\[\begin{split}Jf = \begin{bmatrix} \frac{\partial f_1}{\partial x_1} & ... & \frac{\partial f_1}{\partial x_n}\\ \vdots & \ddots & \vdots \\ \frac{\partial f_n}{\partial x_1} & ... & \frac{\partial f_m}{\partial x_n} \end{bmatrix}\end{split}\]

of dimension \(N \cdot M\), where \(N\) is the number of variables and \(M\) the number of functions that depend on those variables. Now the question is how we compute the Jacobian matrix in a consistent and efficient manner. The most straightforward methodology consists in approximating the derivate by numerical differentiation applying finite differences approximations, for example a forward FD scheme:

\[\frac{\partial f_i}{\partial x_i} = \lim_{\it{h}\to 0} \frac{f(x_i+h)-f(x_i)}{h}\]

where \(h\) is a discrete increment. The main advantage of numerical differentiation is that it only computes \(f\)—evaluated for different values of \(x\)—which makes it very easy to implement it in any available code. By contrast, a drawback is that for every element of the Jacobian we are introducing an approximation error that eventually can lead to mathematical instabilities. But above all, the main limitation is the need of \(2 \cdot M \cdot N\) evaluations of the function \(f\), which quickly becomes prohibitively expensive to compute in high-dimensional problems.

The alternative is to create the symbolic differentiation of \(f\). This encompasses decomposing \(f\) into its primal operators and applying the chain rule to the correspondent transformation by following the rules of differentiation to obtain \(f'\). However, symbolic differentiation is not enough since the application of the chain rule leads to exponentially large expressions of \(f'\) in what is known as “expression swell” [B15]. Luckily, these large symbolic expressions have a high level of redundancy in their terms. This allows to exploit this redundancy by storing the repeated intermediate steps in memory and simply invoke them when necessary, instead of computing the whole graph every time. This division of the program into sub-routines to store the intermediate results—which are invoked several times—is called dynamic programming [B16]. The simplified symbolic differentiation graph is ultimately what is called automatic differentiation [B14]. Additionally, in a multivariate/multi-objective case the benefits of using AD increase linearly as the difference between the number of parameters \(N\) and the number of objective functions \(M\) get larger. By applying the same principle of redundancy explained above—this time between intermediate steps shared across multiple variables or multiple objective function—it is possible to reduce the number of evaluations necessary to compute the Jacobian either to \(N\) in forward-propagation or to \(M\) in back-propagation, plus a small overhead on the evaluations for a more detailed description of the two modes of AD see [B15].

Theano provides a direct implementation of the back-propagation algorithm, which means in practice that a new graph of similar size is generated per cost function (or, in the probabilistic inference, per likelihood function). Therefore, the computational time is independent of the number of input parameters, opening the door to solving high-dimensional problems.

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