Hydrologic prediction using pattern recognition and soft-computing techniques
Several studies indicate that the data-driven models have proven to be potentially useful tools in hydrological modeling. Nevertheless, it is a common perception among researchers and practitioners that the usefulness of the system theoretic models is limited to forecast applications, and they cannot be used as a tool for scientific investigations. Also, the system-theoretic models are believed to be less reliable as they characterize the hydrological processes by learning the input-output patterns embedded in the dataset and not based on strong physical understanding of the system. It is imperative that the above concerns needs to be addressed before the data-driven models can gain wider acceptability by researchers and practitioners.In this research different methods and tools that can be adopted to promote transparency in the data-driven models are probed with the objective of extending the usefulness of data-driven models beyond forecast applications as a tools for scientific investigations, by providing additional insights into the underlying input-output patterns based on which the data-driven models arrive at a decision. In this regard, the utility of self-organizing networks (competitive learning and self-organizing maps) in learning the patterns in the input space is evaluated by developing a novel neural network model called the spiking modular neural networks (SMNNs). The performance of the SMNNs is evaluated based on its ability to characterize streamflows and actual evapotranspiration process. Also the utility of self-organizing algorithms, namely genetic programming (GP), is evaluated with regards to its ability to promote transparency in data-driven models. The robustness of the GP to evolve its own model structure with relevant parameters is illustrated by applying GP to characterize the actual-evapotranspiration process. The results from this research indicate that self-organization in learning, both in terms of self-organizing networks and self-organizing algorithms, could be adopted to promote transparency in data-driven models.In pursuit of improving the reliability of the data-driven models, different methods for incorporating uncertainty estimates as part of the data-driven model building exercise is evaluated in this research. The local-scale models are shown to be more reliable than the global-scale models in characterizing the saturated hydraulic conductivity of soils. In addition, in this research, the importance of model structure uncertainty in geophysical modeling is emphasized by developing a framework to account for the model structure uncertainty in geophysical modeling. The contribution of the model structure uncertainty to the predictive uncertainty of the model is shown to be larger than the uncertainty associated with the model parameters. Also it has been demonstrated that increasing the model complexity may lead to a better fit of the function, but at the cost of an increasing level of uncertainty. It is recommended that the effect of model structure uncertainty should be considered for developing reliable hydrological models.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorElshorbagy, Amin A.
CommitteeSi, Bing C.; Hawkes, Christopher D.; Barbour, S. Lee; Zhang, W. J. (Chris)