A comparative study of structural similarity and regularization for joint inverse problems governed by PDEs

Benjamin Crestel, Georg Stadler, Omar Ghattas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Joint inversion refers to the simultaneous inference of multiple parameter fields from observations of systems governed by single or multiple forward models. In many cases these parameter fields reflect different attributes of a single medium and are thus spatially correlated or structurally similar. By imposing prior information on their spatial correlations via a joint regularization term, we seek to improve the reconstruction of the parameter fields relative to inversion for each field independently. One of the main challenges is to devise a joint regularization functional that conveys the spatial correlations or structural similarity between the fields while at the same time permitting scalable and efficient solvers for the joint inverse problem. We describe several joint regularizations that are motivated by these goals: a cross-gradient and a normalized cross-gradient structural similarity term, the vectorial total variation, and a joint regularization based on the nuclear norm of the gradients. Based on numerical results from three classes of inverse problems with piecewise-homogeneous parameter fields, we conclude that the vectorial total variation functional is preferable to the other methods considered. Besides resulting in good reconstructions in all experiments, it allows for scalable, efficient solvers for joint inverse problems governed by PDE forward models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024003
JournalInverse Problems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • cross-gradient
  • joint inversion
  • multi-physics inverse problem
  • nuclear norm
  • structural similarity prior
  • vectorial total variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Signal Processing
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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