Isogeometric multi-resolution full waveform inversion based on the finite cell method

Tim Bürchner, Philipp Kopp, Stefan Kollmannsberger, Ernst Rank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Full waveform inversion (FWI) is an iterative identification process that serves to minimize the misfit of model-based simulated and experimentally measured wave field data. Its goal is to identify a field of parameters for a given physical object. For many years, FWI is very successful in seismic imaging to deduce velocity models of the earth or of local geophysical exploration areas. FWI has also been successfully applied in various other fields, including non-destructive testing (NDT) and biomedical imaging. The inverse optimization process of FWI relies on forward and backward solutions of the (elastic or acoustic) wave equation, as well as on efficient computations of adequate optimization directions. Many approaches employ (low order) finite element or finite difference methods, using parameterized material fields whose resolution is chosen in relation to the elements or nodes of the discretized wave field. In our previous paper (Bürchner et al., 2023), we investigated the potential of using the finite cell method (FCM) as the wave field solver. The FCM offers the advantage that highly complex geometric models can be incorporated easily. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the identification of the model's density outperforms that of the velocity — particularly in cases where unknown voids characterized by homogeneous Neumann boundary conditions need to be detected. The paper at hand extends this previous study in the following aspects: The isogeometric finite cell analysis (IGA-FCM) – a combination of isogeometric analysis (IGA) and FCM – is applied as the wave field solver, with the advantage that the polynomial degree and subsequently also the sampling frequency of the wave field can be increased quite easily. Since the inversion efficiency strongly depends on the accuracy of the forward and backward wave field solutions and of the gradients of the functional, consistent, and lumped mass matrix discretization are compared. The resolution of the grid describing the unknown material density – thus allowing to identify voids in a physical object – is then decoupled from the knot span grid. Finally, we propose an adaptive multi-resolution algorithm that locally refines the material grid using an image processing-based refinement indicator. The developed inversion framework allows fast and memory-efficient wave simulations and object identification. While we study the general behavior of the proposed approach using 2D benchmark problems, a final 3D problem shows that it can also be used to identify void regions in geometrically complex spatial structures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116286
JournalComputer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2023


  • Finite cell method
  • Full waveform inversion
  • Isogeometric analysis
  • Multi-resolution
  • Scalar wave equation


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