Machine learning facilitates “turbulence tracking” in fusion reactors
A multidisciplinary team of researchers is now bringing tools and insights from machine learning to aid this effort. Scientists from MIT and elsewhere have used computer-vision models to identify and track turbulent structures that appear under the conditions needed to facilitate fusion reactions.
Monitoring the formation and movements of these structures, called filaments or “blobs,” is important for understanding the heat and particle flows exiting from the reacting fuel, which ultimately determines the engineering requirements for the reactor walls to meet those flows. However, scientists typically study blobs using averaging techniques, which trade details of individual structures in favor of aggregate statistics. Individual blob information must be tracked by marking them manually in video data.
The researchers built a synthetic video dataset of plasma turbulence to make this process more effective and efficient. They used it to train four computer vision models, each of which identifies and tracks blobs. They trained the models to pinpoint blobs in the same ways that humans would.
When the researchers tested the trained models using real video clips, the models could identify blobs with high accuracy — more than 80 percent in some cases. The models were also able to effectively estimate the size of blobs and the speeds at which they moved.