Abstract: Infrastructure for the automatic collection of single-point measurements of snow water equivalent (SWE) is well-established. However, because SWE varies significantly over space, the estimation of SWE at the catchment scale based on a single-point measurement is error-prone. We propose low-cost, lightweight methods for near-real-time estimation of mean catchment-wide SWE using existing infrastructure, wireless sensor networks, and machine learning algorithms. Because snowpack distribution is highly nonlinear, we focus on Genetic Programming (GP), a nonlinear, white-box, inductive machine learning algorithm. Because we did not have access to near-real-time catchment-scale SWE data, we used available data as ground truth for machine learning in a set of experiments that are successive approximations of our goal of catchment-wide SWE estimation. First, we used a history of maritime snowpack data collected by manual snow courses. Second, we used distributed snow depth (HS) data collected automatically by wireless sensor networks. We compared the performance of GP against linear regression (LR), binary regression trees (BT), and a widely used basic method (BM) that naively assumes non-variable snowpack. In the first experiment set, GP and LR models predicted SWE with lower error than BM. In the second experiment set, GP had lower error than LR, but outperformed BT only when we applied a technique that specifically mitigated the possibility of over-fitting.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).