An information-theoretic approach to study fluid-structure interactions

Peng Zhang, Maxwell Rosen, Sean D. Peterson, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The question of causality is pervasive to fluid-structure interactions, where it finds its most alluring instance in the study of fish swimming in coordination. How and why fish align their bodies, synchronize their motion, and position in crystallized formations are yet to be fully understood. Here, we posit a model-free approach to infer causality in fluid-structure interactions through the information-theoretic notion of transfer entropy. Given two dynamical units, transfer entropy quantifies the reduction of uncertainty in predicting the future state of one of them due to additional knowledge about the past of the other. We demonstrate our approach on a system of two tandem airfoils in a uniform flow, where the pitch angle of one airfoil is actively controlled while the other is allowed to passively rotate. Through transfer entropy, we seek to unveil causal relationships between the airfoils from information transfer conducted by the fluid medium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)968-986
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Aug 10 2018


  • channel flow
  • flow-structure interactions
  • swimming/flying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'An information-theoretic approach to study fluid-structure interactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this