# Optimal Compressed Sensing and Reconstruction of Unstructured Mesh Datasets

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## Abstract

Exascale computing promises quantities of data too large to efficiently store and transfer across networks in order to be able to analyze and visualize the results. We investigate compressed sensing (CS) as an in situ method to reduce the size of the data as it is being generated during a large-scale simulation. CS works by sampling the data on the computational cluster within an alternative function space such as wavelet bases and then reconstructing back to the original space on visualization platforms. While much work has gone into exploring CS on structured datasets, such as image data, we investigate its usefulness for point clouds such as unstructured mesh datasets often found in finite element simulations. We sample using a technique that exhibits low coherence with tree wavelets found to be suitable for point clouds. We reconstruct using the stagewise orthogonal matching pursuit algorithm that we improved to facilitate automated use in batch jobs. We analyze the achievable compression ratios and the quality and accuracy of reconstructed results at each compression ratio. In the considered case studies, we are able to achieve compression ratios up to two orders of magnitude with reasonable reconstruction accuracy and minimal visual deterioration in the data. Our results suggest that, compared to other compression techniques, CS is attractive in cases where the compression overhead has to be minimized and where the reconstruction cost is not a significant concern.

## Keywords

Compressed sensing Tree wavelets Compression In situ Large-scale simulation Unstructured mesh Compression ratio Reconstruction Optimal Gradient## 1 Introduction

- 1.
*Data visualization*where loss in the quality and resolution in the reconstructed data is usually acceptable which indicates that large compression rates can be performed on the original data. - 2.
*Resiliency in high-performance computing*where a simulation can be restarted from previously compressed data snapshot rather than the original one in order to save storage space. In this case, it is expedient that the reconstructed data should be as accurate as possible compared to the original data such that no error can grow and propagate in the remaining part of the simulation. - 3.
*Generating low-dimensional bases*for example in uncertainty analysis studies where multiple snapshots of the data are taken and can be compressed due to the large redundancies they contain which allows large compression rates and moderately acceptable loss in the data.

A suitable compression scheme is one that has a small impact on the running simulation. In other words, the code should not be significantly altered and the overhead cost should be very low. There are two major types of scientific data compression methods: lossless and lossy methods. In lossless methods, the compression ratio (CR), defined as the ratio between the raw and compressed data sizes, depends on the data entropy [1] which is associated with the randomness in the numerical precision representation of the data variables. Data entropy is very large in data produced by scientific computations, making lossless methods suffer from low compression ratios (\(2 \le \text {CR} \le 10\)). However, lossy methods perform compression by discovering redundancies due to trends and features in the data regardless of entropy. Scientific data are often smooth in space and time which signifies that it would be highly compressible using lossy methods. We propose compressed sensing (CS) as a lossy method to compress and reconstruct datasets.

CS is known to be a fast data compression technique. It works by sampling the data on the computational cluster using any sampling technique within an alternative function space such as wavelet bases described later in this paper. Its compression rates are relatively low in images and videos because such data exhibit a great deal of discontinuities in their color fields. However, data obtained from computational simulations are quite different; they are fairly smooth since they are obtained from the discretization of smooth partial differential equation operators [2]. By virtue of this smoothness, this kind of scientific data has low information density, and starting from this hypothesis, any such data field can be represented in an alternative function space and exhibit a decaying magnitude in its spectrum. Therefore, CS is expected to achieve compression ratios in scientific data that are larger than in images.

CS has several advantages over other compression methods. First, it is data agnostic, i.e., it works as a “black box” since it does not require any knowledge of the simulation data type, structure or the features contained therein, as is the case with wavelet compression (WC). Second, unlike WC, it does not require the selection of a basis type and order during the compression in situ. Suitable wavelets bases are selected and computed during the post-processing stage allowing interactive reconstruction and visualization according to the required accuracy and quality. Finally, CS can be implemented in practice in a non-intrusive manner which means that existing simulation codes and their interfaces will not be significantly altered when data compression is invoked.

On the other hand, the data reconstruction procedure is relatively slow. Thus, it is unlikely that CS would find widespread application in data compression, as there are methods with faster reconstruction, e.g., vector quantization (VQ) [3] and floating-point array compression [4]. Nevertheless, there may be instances where the data reconstruction speed is not a significant concern. For example, in exploratory research, the interactive sparse reconstruction is made available on dedicated analysis and visualization machines. In another example, in situ computations may themselves be fast but produce large data that need to be compressed with a low overhead. However, it will be difficult to devise a data compression technique based on CS for such cases without a thorough understanding of its performance, reconstruction accuracy, practical implementation and generality.

Conventional CS theory, developed for image compression, is based on the representation of lattice data using the so-called first-generation wavelets (FGW) [5]. We are unaware of any literature on the applicability of compressed sensing on point cloud (irregularly spaced points) data. In this paper, we extend the CS theory to encompass second-generation wavelets and tree wavelets (TW) that can be described on point clouds, e.g., an unstructured mesh. To our knowledge, this extension of CS to point cloud data has not been explored yet. FGWs and TWs are described in Sect. 2.2.

### 1.1 Literature Review

In situ reduction of large computational datasets has recently been the subject of multiple research efforts. In the ISABELA project [1, 6], the dataset is sorted as a vector and encoded with B-splines while computing the resulting associated errors. DIRAQ is a more recent effort by the same research group [7]. It is a faster parallel in situ data indexing machinery that enables efficient query of the original data. However, ISABELA and DIRAQ suffer from low compression ratios (\({\sim } 4{-}6 \times \)), which might not be sufficient for exascale datasets in which I/O is a critical bottleneck. The \({\textit{zfp}}\) project, [4], works by compressing 3D blocks of floating-point field data into variable-length bitstreams. The \({\textit{zfp}}\) approach results in compression ratios larger than 10 with very good accuracy but is limited by the bitstream length on how much it can compress without significant error loss. Adaptive compression based on the error for a given block can yield much higher compression rates for a smaller increase in error. Vector quantization [3, 8] is a traditional approach for compressing image data. Similar to \({\textit{zfp}}\), it works by breaking up data into blocks, treating them as vector quantities, clustering them into a number of groups based on the requested reduction size and replacing individual blocks by their centroid. Usually, it is only applicable to regular grid data. Bernardon et al. [8] applied VQ to unstructured grids by quantizing in time rather than in space. Most of the compression approaches are effective for temporal data but require accumulating several time steps data in memory which might be prohibitive on computational clusters. Therefore, we only examine compression at specific time steps in this paper.

The compression scheme of Zhao et al. [9] works similarly to \({\textit{zfp}}\) on spatio-temporal data, providing large compression ratios and fast decompression speeds but it is also limited to regular grid data. However, our CS approach compresses unstructured data and we expect to obtain compression ratios up to two orders of magnitude while keeping a reasonable accuracy in the reconstructed results. A very recent effort in scientific data compression relies on the Tucker tensor decomposition [10] to reduce the size of a large dataset gathered from different time steps, variables and computing nodes. Tucker compression results in compression ratios up to three orders of magnitudes, but it is unclear how it would perform in situ for data generated at one time step at a time. Furthermore, this technique is applicable only on regular grids and it is not clear how it would adapt to unstructured meshes. Finally, CS attempts for scientific data reduction and visual rendering are currently limited to data represented on regular grids [11, 12, 13].

Ongoing research efforts include in situ visualization [14] and feature extraction [15] using combustion simulation datasets from the S3D simulator developed at Sandia National Labs (SNL). Selected simulation outputs are analyzed and visualized in situ while data analysis occurs at separate computational nodes incurring a significant overhead. Moreover, such in situ techniques require preselected outputs and cannot be used interactively since most clusters are operated in batch mode. Similar techniques have been implemented in the ParaView coprocessing library [16].

Sampling techniques are also employed in situ for data reduction. Woodring et al. [17] devised an approach for a large-scale particle cosmological simulation. A major feature in this work is the low cost of the offline data reconstruction and visualization. However, the compression ratios are low and the technique requires skipping levels in the simulation data. Sublinear sampling algorithms have also been proposed for data reduction [18] in the analysis of stationary graphs. An ongoing effort attempts to transfer sublinear sampling theory into practice with focus on large combustion datasets.

### 1.2 Proposed Work and Approach

In this paper, we present a compression/decompression method based on CS for scientific data represented on irregular geometries and unstructured meshes. The data reconstruction (decompression) is based on Alpert tree wavelets [19, 20], suitable for irregularly spaced data. We use the stagewise orthogonal matching pursuit (StOMP) algorithm [21] as the sparse data reconstruction method. We also present adaptive algorithms that alleviate the method’s computational cost and enhance its accuracy in high-performance computing (HPC) engineering applications.

This paper is organized as follows. In Sect. 2, we describe the mathematical tools of CS, tree wavelets and sparse data reconstruction used in the compression/decompression method we are proposing. We also propose two improvements to the StOMP algorithm by automating its choice of a threshold parameter and one linear algebra operation in order to alleviate decompression complications and obtain a systematic reasonable accuracy. In Sect. 4, we present our preliminary results of the method for a small-scale toy problem in order to validate its operation. In Sect. 5, we develop a correlation that predicts the optimal compressibility of a dataset according to a given reconstruction accuracy. In Sect. 6, we apply the method along with its improvements to some large-scale datasets and present its performance in terms of accuracy and compression and decompression speeds on datasets obtained from turbulent combustion simulations and land-ice modeling. Finally, in Sect. 7, we summarize the findings in this paper and describe the limitations and propose future directions of our study.

## 2 Mathematical Tools

In this section, we describe the mathematical tools required for our compression/decompression algorithms. These are compressed sensing, wavelets and sparse reconstruction solvers. They operate in the same way as in the case when CS is applied to image data. The vector representation of the data is exactly the same in the case of point clouds and unstructured meshes. In fact, any data can be gathered in a vector form regardless of whether it is represented on a regular grid or not. The major difference is in the way the wavelets are computed, but their matrix form is the same as in traditional CS.

### 2.1 Compressed Sensing

*K*is the number of active wavelet modes considered and

*C*is a constant that depends on the data [23].

### 2.2 Tree Wavelets

*j*) as well as their location (

*k*) in space. First-generation wavelets (FGW) are the most commonly used in compressing images and videos. To date, all CS work of which we are aware of is based on FGWs which only accommodate data defined on regular grids. FGWs are characterized by scaling functions \(\phi (x)\) to perform approximations and \(\psi (x)\) to find the details in a function

*f*[24]. These are defined in Eqs. 4 and 5 at all levels of

*j*in the hierarchy and span all locations

*k*in the regular grid. They are computed in terms of the so-called mother wavelet \(\psi _0\) which provides the approximation at the largest level \(j=0\). At each level

*j*, the scaling functions are defined as,

*x*is the spatial coordinates and \(a_k\) and \(b_k\) are coefficients usually constrained to maintain basis orthogonality. Each new basis function models a finer resolution detail in the space being spanned. Regular grids are dyadic and the maximum number of levels \(j_{\text {max}}\) is equal to \(\hbox {log}_2(N)\) where

*N*is the number of grid points in each dimension.

In this work, we examine compression on unstructured mesh data or point clouds which are not well represented by FGWs [25] and require non-traditional wavelet bases such as second-generation wavelets [25, 26], diffusion wavelets [27] or tree wavelets (TW) [19, 20]. There are two major differences between FGWs and TWs. The first difference in TW is that the maximum number of levels \(j_{\text {max}}\) is computed by recursively splitting the non-dyadic mesh into different non-overlapping groups, thereby forming a multiscale hierarchical tree [25]. Since TWs do not require dyadic grids, they can accommodate finite intervals and irregular geometries. The second difference is that the scaling functions and the wavelets themselves depend on the mesh because they are defined by the discrete set of points, \(x_k\), as opposed to FGWs where the regular grid coordinates do not enter in the wavelets calculation.

In our work, we use the TWs of Alpert et al. [19, 28], referred to as multiwavelets. The major advantage of these TWs is that their computation does not require any special treatment of the domain boundaries or any holes present therein (e.g., by converting the domain to a simply connected rectangle via cuts and mapping) and they avoid them by construction [20]. The discrete Alpert wavelets \(\psi _j(x_k)\) are polynomials, are quick to compute and are represented in the matrix, \([\varPsi ]\).

#### 2.2.1 Building the Wavelets Matrix

Computing a wavelet matrix recursively using Eqs. 4 and 5 is not practical. Therefore, a discrete methodology is employed to build the Alpert wavelet matrix. Here, we briefly present this methodology for the case of one-dimensional (1D) non-dyadic mesh for a polynomial order *w*. Consider a 1D mesh with *N* points \(x_1< \cdots< x_i< \cdots < x_N\).

The first step is to subdivide the mesh into *P* almost equally sized bins such that the number of points *n* per bin is \(2w \ge n \gtrsim w\). This subdivision operation is obvious and not necessary in the case of a dyadic mesh where FGW are used.

The content of the \([M]_{1,p}\) is the wavelet functions \(\psi \) in Eq. 5, assumed to be polynomials in Alpert multiwavelets [19]. If [*M*] is not a square matrix, then its first *n* columns are selected to make it suitable for orthogonalization. For each bin, we also compute the matrices \([U]_{1,p} \in \mathbb {R}^{n \times n}\) as the orthogonalized (e.g., using a QR operation) and transposed version of the matrices [*M*].

*V*] cover the

*N*points in the mesh and the

*N*rows cover the

*N*wavelet coefficients where the detail level increases at the lower regions in [

*V*]. Here, \(w=3\) and \(n=4\); therefore, the \(w=1\) rows in the lower part of \([U]_{1,p}\) are assigned to the lower part of [

*V*] since they involve larger polynomial orders hence finer details. The upper part (\(n-w=1\) row in this case) is assigned to the upper part of [

*V*].

*P*bins obtained in the mesh subdivision constitute a tree hierarchy of the details found in the mesh. The maximum number of detail levels is computed as \(j_{\max }=\text {log}_2(P)+1\). Matrices \([V]_{2 \le j \le j_{\max }}\) have to be computed similarly to \([V]_1\) in order to compute the wavelet matrix as:

*D*-dimensional meshes with the following differences:

- 1.
The domain decomposition into almost equal bins is performed using algorithms such as

*k*-means clustering. - 2.
The polynomial order \(w_{1 \le d \le D}\) is assigned for each dimension

*d*such that the effective order is \(w = \prod _{d=1}^{D} w_d\). - 3.The entities \(m_{\alpha ,\beta }\) in the matrix \([M]_{1,p}\) are computed as:where \(x_d\) are the coordinates in the dimension$$\begin{aligned} m_{\alpha ,\beta } = \prod _{d=1}^{D} x_{d,\alpha }^{\beta _d-1}, \end{aligned}$$(9)
*d*and \(1 \le \beta _d \le w_d\).

### *Remarks*

- 1.
The procedure described above to build the wavelet matrix \([\varPsi ]\) guarantees that it is orthonormal such that its matrix inverse is equal to its transpose, \([\varPsi ]^{-1} = [\varPsi ]^T\)

- 2.
For \(w=1\), the Haar wavelets are recovered and the domain is decomposed to the mesh point level such that \(P=N\) and \(n=1\). In this case, the moment matrices reduce to a scalar equal to one.

### 2.3 Reconstruction

Much of the work in CS is handled by the reconstruction phase which uses wavelet basis to reconstruct the dataset from the compressed samples. Different algorithms exist in the literature. Here, we use a greedy algorithm called stagewise orthogonal matching pursuit (StOMP) [21] that has been empirically demonstrated to be very efficient.

If \([\varPhi ]\) and \([\varPsi ]\) exhibit low mutual coherence and \(\varvec{s}\) is sparse, i.e., has few nonzero elements, then StOMP can efficiently provide a solution. StOMP finds the nonzero elements of \(\varvec{s}\) through a series of increasingly correct estimates. Starting with an initial estimate \(\varvec{s}_0 = \varvec{0}\) and an initial residual \(\varvec{r}_0 = \varvec{y}\), the algorithm maintains estimates of the location of the nonzero elements of \(\varvec{s}\). We note that the input compression ratio defined as the ratio between the sizes of vectors \(\varvec{f}\) and \(\varvec{y}\) in Eq. 1 is not expected to match the sparsity of the output \(\varvec{s}\) of the StOMP algorithm.

*R*. Elements above the threshold are considered nonzero entries and added to the set \(J_n\). The new set of entries \(J_n\) is added to the current estimate of nonzero entries \(I_n = I_{n-1} \cup J_n\) and is used to give a new approximation of \(\varvec{s}_n\),

*A*]. These steps are summarized in Algorithm 1 along with the proposed improvements to the StOMP scheme.

#### 2.3.1 Improving the Evaluation of \({s}_n\)

In the original StOMP algorithm, there is no linear system solution in Eq. 13, it is just an evaluation of the vector \(\varvec{s}_n\) as a function other entities in the algorithm. We have improved this StOMP algorithm through a more accurate evaluation of \(\varvec{s}_n\) in Eq. 13, especially when the matrix \([A]^T_{I_n}[A]_{I_n}\) has a low condition number. Our improved algorithm first approximates the reciprocal condition number of \([A]^T_{I_n}[A]_{I_n}\) [29]. If it is larger than a tolerance we set to 2.2\(\times 10^{-16}\) then we evaluate \(\varvec{s}_n\) directly using Eq. 13, i.e., by inverting the matrix \([A]^T_{I_n}[A]_{I_n}\). Otherwise, the matrix is ill-conditioned so we evaluate \(\varvec{s}_n\) by solving the underdetermined system \([A]^T_{I_n} \varvec{s}_n=\varvec{y}\) using the least squares method which is equivalent to Eq. 13 but does not suffer from ill-conditioning and results in reasonable solutions. The solution of an underdetermined system using the least squares method is well documented in the literature [29]. The latter case might not occur frequently; it mostly happens for large compression ratios. This improvement we are providing keeps the algorithm robust in such cases to result in reasonable reconstructions without breaking the code execution.

#### 2.3.2 Prediction of the StOMP Threshold Parameter

*R*regardless of the sparsity of the output \(\varvec{s}\). This might not be practical for batch jobs where different problems require different values of \(\theta \). Therefore, we propose an empirical technique similar to [30] to estimate \(\theta \) inside the StOMP algorithm as a function of other inputs. This grants both a minimal error in the reconstructed data and an automated use of StOMP in batch reconstructions.

*R*. In fact, a larger compression ratio implies the existence of fewer dominant modes which manifests a lower threshold. According to these

*assumptions*, we propose the following model for \(\theta \):

*f*and

*g*in Eqs. 16–17 (combinations of sines and cosines). These are representative of most PDE solution functions to the extent that they can be expanded into sines and cosines according to Fourier series. We omit the details of this fitting procedure in this paper for the sake of brevity, but report that the values \(k_0=3\), \(k_1=1\) and \(k_2=-0.5\) are obtained. This closed form solution is interesting and requires a more thorough theoretical proof that is beyond the scope of this study. Even though it was obtained empirically from a set of training data, we found that it is applicable to all other datasets we considered in this paper with no need for further tuning unlike the one reported in [30]. The values of \(\theta \) estimated from Eq. 14 are highlighted as the circle markers in Fig. 2. They fall in the range where the reconstruction error is minimal.

## 3 Implementation

In order to test the compression/decompression procedure, we have built a processing pipeline that both samples and reconstructs data from a dataset. It allows us to experiment with existing datasets and assess reconstruction quality. The library is split into two pieces. The in situ piece consists of a small sampling code base. It stores the samples, mesh points coordinates and the seed used to generate the Bernoulli sampling matrix \([\varPhi ]\). During the in situ processing, the sampling matrix is not constructed explicitly, but used implicitly to generate the sampled data. No wavelet computation is required at this stage.

We have implemented the reconstruction procedure in two ways: (1) in MATLAB in order to experiment and produce some of the results shown in Sect. 4.1 and (2) a more production-oriented version written using the Trilinos sparse linear algebra library [32] and ParaView for visualization [33]. We have published an open source basic version of this library in SWinzip v1.0 [34] that does not require Trilinos or ParaView. SWinzip contains C++ and MATLAB versions of the library.

The current implementation acts on data distributed on many cores/processes in the following manner. It performs a local in situ compression on each process during a HPC simulation (step I) as illustrated in Fig. 3. This allows a communication-free compression resulting in a highly scalable compression method. The data reconstruction (step II) also takes place locally for each data subdomain corresponding to each core/process.

*f*and defined on

*N*points, and its reconstructed version \(f^r\) is computed as:

## 4 Results

In this section, we discuss the compression capability and reconstruction quality of our compression/decompression method. We also describe some aspects of its practical implementation. We consider two types of datasets. The first type is “toy problems,” where we assume mathematical functions defined on an irregular two-dimensional geometry. These datasets are small, and we can compress and reconstruct them on one processor. The second type (reported in Sect. 6) is distributed larger datasets obtained from parallel simulations. In this case, we have both structured two-dimensional meshes where we can compare our CS results with other compression techniques such as WC and *zfp* and unstructured three-dimensional meshes which we compress only using the CS and WC methods.

### 4.1 Method Validation

*f*and

*g*given in Eqs. 16 and 17 as the datasets represented on the obtained mesh. We choose these functions such that

*f*exhibits multiple oscillations and reveals more features than

*g*(see Fig. 4).

The motivation behind this choice is that we would like to explore the effect of data features on the number of samples required during compressed sensing, that are necessary to accurately reconstruct the original dataset. Representing *f* and *g* on such irregular geometry using traditional FGWs is problematic. One would consider interpolating the field from the unstructured mesh onto an assumed regular grid and then applying the usual CS and wavelet techniques for data compression. There are two major problems in this approach. First, the interpolation is an expensive procedure and might introduce a significant error. Second, it is not obvious how to treat the irregular parts of the geometry (e.g., the holes in Fig. 4) and what values to assume in their regions. Any assumed value will induce a discontinuity in the field, rendering the compression using CS or wavelets useless since a very low compression ratio will be necessary to accurately reconstruct the data.

*f*using the StOMP algorithm described in Sect. 2.3. Both compression and reconstruction are performed in a serial run. We denote the reconstructed fields by \(f^r\) and \(g^r\), respectively. They are plotted in Fig. 4 which shows that the original and reconstructed datasets are visually indistinguishable. For the function

*f*that reveals many features, a compression ratio of \(R=10\) was selected for an accurate reconstruction. However,

*g*affords a higher compression ratio of \(R=70\) since it has fewer features which incur more data redundancy. This result indicates the possibility to predict the compression ratio in terms of the gradients in the data. This latter increases with the number of features in a given dataset. Such prediction of the compression ratio is beneficial in situ since the compressibility of the datasets is unknown a priori. We will explore this prediction in Sect. 5 below.

#### 4.1.1 Effect of the Wavelet Order

*f*and

*g*as a function of the wavelet order for different compression ratios. As expected, the error is lower for low compression ratios.

The error decreases with the wavelet order *w*. The decreasing trend is reversed at larger values of *w*. We attribute this mainly to an overfitting of the function *f* by the high-order Alpert polynomial wavelets. It is therefore preferred to choose lower orders. Empirically, and according to the plots in Fig. 6, we found that \(w=5\) is an optimum value for the wavelet order that minimizes the reconstruction NRMSE and prevents overfitting of the given function in the dataset.

#### 4.1.2 Effect of the Sampling Matrix

*f*and

*g*described previously in this section, we have performed the compression and reconstruction using various sampling matrices available in the literature [22]. We examine the data field

*f*represented on the irregular geometry described previously in this section. We plot in Fig. 7 the reconstruction NRMSE (left vertical axis) and the coherence metric (right vertical axis) defined as [23]:

*A*] is product of the wavelet and sampling matrices (see Eq. 3). We notice that the coherence and the error are closely related to each other. The coherence metric measures the largest correlation between any wavelet-sampling vector pair. If it is large then the sampling technique is not encoding all information in the wavelet basis, which results in a larger reconstruction error.

Figure 7 implies that all the sampling matrices we considered except the Fourier matrix have satisfactory coherence requirements. In all other results shown in this paper, we have employed the Bernoulli sampling matrix since it resulted in the lowest error and due to its low storage requirements and simple construction method. Each row of a Bernoulli matrix is formed by *N* / 2 values of 1 and \(-1\) randomly scrambled.

#### 4.1.3 Comparison with Other Reconstruction Algorithms

We also compare our improved StOMP reconstruction with reconstructions obtained by other algorithms and codes that exist in the literature, namely ADMM [35], fixed point continuation (fpc) using Bregman iterations [36], CoSaMP [37] and Sparsa [38]. The results are reported for the *f* function in Fig. 8 which we consider as representative of typical PDE solution fields as discussed in Sect. 2.3.2. When StOMP is used, convergence is reached within 25 iterations and 7 s on a quad-core laptop operating at 3.0 GHz, whereas all other methods would require more than 1000 iterations which takes more than 350 s. Furthermore, our improved StOMP algorithm does not require any tuning, unlike all other methods involving “knobs” that we manually tuned in our computations to give a reasonable reconstruction.

## 5 In Situ Prediction of the Compression Ratio

A major challenge in CS is its current limitation to fixed-rate compression preventing it from operating in a fixed accuracy mode. In other words, the compression ratio has to be chosen before performing an in situ compression and has to be the same for all computing processes in a parallel HPC application which correspond to the different subdomains in a distributed data field. If the data contains features expressed by large gradients in the field, the choice of the compression ratio might be low resulting in a poor reconstruction.

When lossy compression methods (e.g., compressive sensing, wavelet compression, etc.) are locally invoked during scientific computations on a multiprocessor cluster, it is beneficial, even crucial, to have an estimate of the compression ratio (*R*) that is suitable to the dataset corresponding to the local computational subdomain in the cluster. We found in Sect. 4.1 that fields that exhibit many features and fluctuations require a relatively lower *R* to be accurately reconstructed. This also applies to realistic fields. For example, during a turbulent computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation with a uniform mesh, there could be regions where the flow field is smooth and other regions where turbulent fluctuations are present. The velocity field in the former case admits a relatively large *R*, whereas the latter requires a much lower *R*. The same disparity in the values of *R* can occur at different time steps, e.g., before and after an ignition or a turbulence onset. Thus, a constant *R* assigned to all processors might not usually be an optimal choice since it could result in inaccurate reconstructions in some regions in the domain and inefficient compression in others. The results of Sect. 4.1 imply that the optimal *R* is closely related to the field gradients. This implies that the compressibility of any scientific dataset can be predicted if a correlation is derived between *R* and the field gradients. This concept is similar to the data entropy often used in data workflow studies [39]. However, our concept is based on the redundancies in the visual data features and smoothness rather than the redundancies in the data precision and machine representation.

*R*to the gradient defined on each mesh point in the computational subdomain. We simplify the local variation in the gradient by computing its descriptive statistics, i.e., mean \(\mu \), standard deviation \(\sigma \), median

*m*and maximum \(\mathcal {M}\). These statistics are normalized by the difference between the maximum and minimum value of the data and by the local mesh size in each element. We also consider the effect of the number

*N*of data points on which the dataset is represented.

*N*plays a role in assessing the data compressibility since a dataset can be represented on meshes of different refinements. In fact, fine (resp. coarse) meshes admit larger (resp. lower)

*R*. According to these observations, one can devise different mathematical relationships between

*R*and the gradient statistics. In this study, we

*assume*the following correlation relating

*R*to these descriptive statistics:

This assumed correlation of the exponential dependence of *R* on the gradient statistics is inspired by the trends observed in the plots shown in Fig. 9 below and generated from the data described in Sect. 5.1. This correlation accounts for all aspects of the gradient distribution in the dataset. It also accounts for its skewness in terms of the deviation between the gradient mean and median \(|\mu -m|\). The parameters \(\eta _{0 \le i \le 5}\) are to be inferred from training values of *N*, descriptive statistics and \(\mathcal {R}\), the “true” *R*. Here \(\mathcal {R}\) is obtained at a given data reconstruction accuracy \(\epsilon \) defined as the NRMSE. An initial large value of *R* is selected. It is used to compress and then reconstruct the dataset. If the reconstruction error is larger than \(\epsilon \), *R* is decreased. This procedure is repeated in a systematic manner until the reconstruction error meets \(\epsilon \) where the \(\mathcal {R}\) is recorded. According to the trends observed in Fig. 9 and the dependence on *N* described above, we expect to obtain negative values \(\eta _{1 \le i \le 4}\) and a positive value of \(\eta _5\).

### 5.1 Training Data

We have obtained two datasets distributed among many processors. Using Alpert tree wavelets with an order \(w=5\), each of these subdatasets produces, for a reconstruction accuracy \(\epsilon = 0.05\), a set of \(\mathcal {R}\), *N* and the gradients’ statistics. Based on these, we infer the values of \(\eta _i\) in Eq. 19.

#### 5.1.1 Turbulent Combustion Data

We have obtained turbulent combustion data from a reactivity-controlled compression ignition (RCCI) simulation [40, 41] involving several time steps. Each time step consists of 116 variables encompassing the chemical species present during the combustion and other primitive variables such as temperature, velocities, etc. Each of these variables is defined on a large two-dimensional regular grid. We have subdivided this large grid into different subdomains and in different ways such that each subdomain could include \(1600 \le N \le 25{,}600\) data points. Thus, we generated several subdomains from this spatial subdivision and from the different variables and time steps. We randomly selected subdomains for the training of the correlation 19 and others for its verification/validation.

#### 5.1.2 Turbulent Flow Data

We have also obtained data from the simulation of three-dimensional high-speed internal flow in a flat channel [42]. The data involves several time step, each consisting of 8 primitive variables. The mesh is irregular since it is refined in some areas close to the walls in order to better capture the turbulent structures and features arising in these locations. For each variable and time step, the data are distributed among 40 processors resulting in different subdomains. Similarly to the turbulent combustion data, this allows us to randomly generate several samples to train and verify the correlation 19.

### 5.2 Inference of the Correlation

*j*and corresponding data extracted from the training data, we can write:

*L*] is a lower-triangular matrix that accounts for the uncertainty in \(\varvec{\eta }\) due to limited amount of training data. Practically, one would using the nominal result \(\bar{\varvec{\eta }}\) to estimate the compression ratio. As mentioned previously, \(\bar{\varvec{\eta }}\) admits an analytical expression:

*R*of a validation dataset different than the one given by \(\varvec{d}\) and [

*Q*]. We plot the “true” \(\mathcal {R}\) versus the predicted

*R*in Fig. 10 which shows a good agreement between the measured and predicted values. The scattering in the results is mainly due to the fixed choice of the wavelet order \(w=5\). Such scattering and fluctuations due to the wavelet order have been observed in the preliminary results (see Fig. 6). Figure 10 also indicates that the compression ratio is slightly overpredicted at its lower range (\(R<20\)). This is most probably due to the inadequacy of the assumed model in Eq. 19 for low compression ratios, i.e., large gradients in the data. Other correlations similar to Eq. 24 can also be inferred for accuracy metrics other than the NRMSE, e.g., the error metrics of Wang et al. [45].

### *Remark*

It is sufficient to compute an approximation of the gradient fields in order to compute the statistics needed to predict *R*. Approximate gradients are often computed on the fly in large-scale simulations for post-processing purposes. In such situations, computing the optimal compression ratio using Eq. 24 does not require any additional overhead on the simulation. In other situations, computing the local approximate field gradient all over the mesh might be an expensive additional necessary step. However, in order to compute the gradients statistics, it is sufficient to approximate the field gradient on a sample (\({\sim }10\%\)) of the mesh points according to the sublinear sampling theory [18, 46].

## 6 Large-Scale Case Studies

In this section, we consider large datasets distributed among many processors and obtained from CFD and finite simulations ran on HPC clusters. We first consider data represented on a regular grid such that we can compare the results of our CS compression method with direct wavelet compression (WC) using Alpert bases described in Sect. 2.2.1 and with *zfp* [4], a recently developed compressor designed for structured data, in terms of accuracy and compression and decompression speed. We then consider datasets represented on an irregular geometry discretized using an unstructured three-dimensional mesh. Here, we show the effectiveness of our CS compression method with regards to its new feature that motivated our study that is the ability of CS to be applicable on unstructured mesh data.

### 6.1 Two-Dimensional Distributed Datasets

In this section, we consider larger two-dimensional datasets from a reactivity-controlled compression ignition (RCCI) combustion simulation called S3D [47] represented on a square geometry. These results are taken from few time steps over the course of the simulation run. The simulation involves a combustion ignition moment throughout its course. Before the ignition, the data fields are smooth with moderate spatial variations throughout the domain. After the ignition, the data fields exhibit large and sharp gradients revealing combustion flames, i.e., reaction fronts. Images of the data are shown in Figs. 11 and 13 below (left panel) for cases before and after ignition, respectively. Before the ignition, the data consist of \(1600^2\) mesh points distributed among 100 processes whereas after the ignition, the data consist of \(3200^2\) mesh points distributed among 400 processes.

We perform the compression and reconstruction locally in each process as described in Sect. 3. We consider two cases, where the compression ratio is fixed and assumed the same across all processes and where the CR is estimated locally in each process using the correlation described in Sect. 5. In the latter case, we define the average compression \(\bar{R}\) as the mean value of the estimated values of the local CRs.

Compression ratio *R*, NRMS error and relative error statistics in the reconstructed \(\hbox {CO}_2\) species concentration field and its gradient for different time steps of RCCI simulation

\(\bar{R}\) | NRMS error | \(\hbox {CO}_2\) field relative error | \(\hbox {CO}_2\) field gradient relative error | |||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

FWHM (%) | Max (%) | FWHM (%) | Max (%) | |||

\(t=10\) | 83 | 0.0032 | 0.069 | 0.81 | 10 [0.25] | 700 [3.02] |

\(t=40\) | 101 | 0.0016 | 0.025 | 0.23 | 7.4 [0.25] | 171 [2.19] |

\(t=72\) | 92 | 0.0072 | 0.0045 | 5.5 | 0.95 [0.05] | 1900 [5.85] |

\(t=90\) | 85 | 0.0081 | 0.004 | 4.87 | 1.1 [0.18] | 2500 [4.72] |

Compression ratio *R*, NRMS error and relative error statistics in the reconstructed velocity magnitude *U* field and its gradient for different time steps of RCCI simulation

\(\bar{R}\) | NRMS error | | | |||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

FWHM (%) | Max (%) | FWHM (%) | Max (%) | |||

\(t=10\) | 131 | 0.0024 | 0.006 | 1.84 | 0.6 [0.05] | 839 [2.08] |

\(t=40\) | 130 | 0.0025 | 0.02 | 1.01 | 1.6 [0.05] | 741 [1.46] |

\(t=72\) | 93 | 0.0052 | 0.0085 | 3.34 | 1 [0.15] | 2176 [9.52] |

\(t=90\) | 86 | 0.0061 | 0.043 | 3.75 | 4.5 [0.15] | 2224 [13] |

#### 6.1.1 Impact of Optimized CS Compression

The estimated CRs used to generated the right-hand side plot of Fig. 13 are reported in Fig. 14 (left) as a spatial color plot. We can clearly see how that in the subdomains corresponding to the flame front region the estimated CR is significantly lower than other regions due to the large gradients. Since this estimation of the compression estimation occurs in situ during a simulation, it serves as an a priori prediction of the flame fronts as interesting features in the simulation data. In other words, Eq. 24 can be applied during a simulation for in situ feature detection which is beneficial during scientific workflows [46] which can feedback into the simulation triggering its control parameters, e.g., mesh size, data input/output frequency, etc.

Finally, we compare the NRMSE resulting from the lossy compression using different methods. We consider CS, direct Alpert WC and the fixed-rate *zfp* compressor [4] and apply them to all the 120 field variables present in the simulation at a moment after the ignition \(t=72\). Results for other time steps do not differ significantly.

Direct Alpert WC works in the following manner. Rather than subsampling and reconstructing in the wavelet domain as is the case of CS, we transform the field directly and then zero out all of the transformed coefficients that fall below the threshold as decided by the compression rate, e.g., a compression ratio \(R=8\) means that the lowest 90% of coefficients in magnitude are zeroed out and only the largest \(\frac{1}{10}\) are used to reconstruct the original field. The indices of the largest \(\frac{1}{10}\) are also stored in order to reconstruct the data using an inverse wavelet transform. The second method we compare against is \(\textit{zfp}\) [4]. It works by compressing 3D blocks of floating-point data into a variable-length bitstream sorted in order of error magnitude. Compression occurs by dropping the low-order end of the bitstream. We have implemented its fixed-rate compression method in this paper, i.e., by specifying a constant compression rate as the input to its software code.

#### 6.1.2 Compression and Decompression Performance

Finally, we report the compression and decompression speeds of CS and compare them with those of WC and \(\textit{zfp}\). We have performed the tests for one time step of the RCCI combustion data for all 120 variables in the data involving \(N=25{,}600\) mesh points per process. This means the CS and WC were cast as matrix–matrix products while \(\textit{zfp}\) was applied to each variable separately in a sequential manner. The experiments were performed on a Dell Laptop with 4 cores operating at 3.0 GHz. CS and WC were implemented in MATLAB 2015a through the open-source library SWinzip v1.0 [34] while \(\textit{zfp}\) was compiled from its open-source code available online [48]. The speeds are plotted in Fig. 16 as a function of the CR assumed to be constant throughout the domain.

CS involves the pre-computation of the three matrices \([\varPhi ]\), \([\varPsi ]\) and [*A*] in Eqs. 1–3, WC only involves the matrix \([\varPsi ]\), while \(\textit{zfp}\) does not involve any matrices. In our experiments, we did not account for the time required to build these matrices since we assumed that it amortizes with the large number of variables and time steps present in the data.

#### 6.1.3 Performance Prediction

When comparing the performance of different compression methods, it is difficult to devise a comparison strategy between different compression methods that allows easy predictions since lossy compression performance and accuracy are in general highly data dependent. We have reported our results for one of the case studies and one data size where the number of points per computing process is \(N=25{,}600\). Among the PDE simulation data we surveyed, we found that this is an average typical number of mesh points per process in finite elements and computational fluid dynamics that shows a balance between computing speed and memory use. Nevertheless, one might still want to predict how compression and decompression speeds might vary with *N*. Compression speed in CS is related to *R*/*N* since it corresponds to the one of a dense matrix–vector product similar to Eq. 1. However, when *N* varies, the data compressibility varies as well for a given reconstruction accuracy. As suggested in Sect. 5, *R* usually increases with *N* due to more redundancies in the data. Accordingly, we do not expect that the CS compression speed would significantly vary with *N* unless reconstruction error requirements are relaxed. A similar conclusion can be drawn for the CS decompression noting that the StOMP algorithm converges faster in smoother fields which might increase the speed.

In WC, the compression ratio *R* does not play a major role in assessing the compression and decompression speeds since the major time is spent on the performing the sparse matrix–vector product in Eq. 2. The cost of this product is related to \(N\hbox {log}(N)\) [19, 28]. Thus, the speed of WC is related to \(1/\hbox {log}(N)\) which signifies that it does not significantly vary with *N*.

The compression and decompression speeds of *zfp* increase in larger 3D data fields by virtue of the memory caching benefits [4] incurred in such cases. Increasing the compression in *zfp* might also increase the error in 3D data unless adaptive schemes are used.

### 6.2 Three-Dimensional Distributed Datasets

In this section, we test the accuracy of the CS compression on a tetrahedral unstructured mesh dataset based on an irregular geometry. We chose data obtained from a simulation of the Greenland ice sheet using the finite element land-ice solver known as Albany/FELIX [49] and applied our MATLAB-based algorithms of SWinzip v1.0 to perform the compression. The Greenland geometry is shown in Figs. 17 and 18 below. This geometry is discretized using an unstructured tetrahedral mesh with approximately 2.8 million nodes distributed among 64 processes. It has a large aspect ratio with respect to its thickness, with a length-to-thickness ratio of about 1000, yet its underlying mesh is still three dimensional. We report our results on three data fields: the surface height (*h*), the basal friction coefficient (\(\beta \)) and the ice temperature. The fields *h* and \(\beta \) are two-dimensional entities extruded in the thickness direction. We note that in this application, CS algorithms such as those described herein can also enable uncertainty quantification in land-ice modeling by providing a way to create a relatively low-dimensional representations of these (and other) high-dimensional fields.

*h*and \(\beta \) fields at different CRs optimally estimated.

*h*is a smooth field; thus, it affords large CRs up to 60 with a satisfactory visual quality in the reconstructed data. On the other hand, \(\beta \) is a more complicated field with values spanning different scales (the color bar is given on log scale) and sharp gradients. It is expected that it cannot handle large CRs. In fact, with \(\bar{R} > 11\), many visual details are lost. However, the features depicting the large values of the \(\beta \) are preserved even at large CRs.

*h*, \(\beta \) and ice temperature fields as a function of the average compression ratio. These plots are shown in Fig. 19. The NRMSE increase with the average CR at different rates. The increase rate corresponding to the ice temperature field is larger than the one of the \(\beta \), which in turn is larger the NRMSE increase rate corresponding to the

*h*. This result indicates that the compression quality is highly dependent on the data in hand. The data spatial smoothness plays a crucial role in assessing the compression amount and quality. Figure 19 also shows the NRMSE obtained with direct WC that is found to be about 4 times smaller than the one incurred by CS but with the same increasing trends as a function of the CR. WC has less computational steps and complications than CS which participate in enhancing its accuracy. We cannot compare the CS accuracy with

*zfp*since the data in this case involves an unstructured mesh.

## 7 Conclusion

In this paper, we have demonstrated the application of compressed sensing to unstructured mesh data. We used Alpert tree wavelets to efficiently represent the irregularities present in the spatial geometries and meshes. We have devised an improved version of the StOMP algorithm to reconstruct the data more accurately and in an automated manner. We have also developed a formula to predict the compressibility of any dataset as a function of the spatial gradients before using compressed sensing which aids in reducing the reconstruction error. This in situ prediction of the compression ratio is also useful to detect interesting features and physical phenomena occurring in the data during a large-scale simulation. We found that CS has a reasonable performance characterized by a large data compression speed (\({\sim }100\) MB/s) which makes it attractive in cases were the compression overhead needs to be minimized. We also found that CS has the limitation of slow data reconstruction (\({\sim }1\) MB/s) which makes it useable in cases where data reconstruction speed is not a significant concern. CS also has the limitation that gradients fail to reconstruct accurately from data reconstructed from compressed samples.

We are able to achieve lossy compression ratios up to two orders of magnitude, depending on the oscillations and features present in the data. Deterioration in the reconstructed data at those ratios are reasonably minimal. The features in the data that are manifested by large gradients, and discontinuities in the data contribute in assessing the reconstruction quality. This is also the case for other compression methods we considered. Thus, scientific data compression is highly data and application dependent. Moreover, the choice of the error metric is crucial in assessing the required aspects of the data reconstruction properties.

For the time being CS does not seem an attractive unstructured mesh data compression method overall compared with the Alpert wavelet compression. Additional research is required in future work to extend the scope of compressed sensing in scientific data compression and strengthen its underlying methodology. Given that the reconstruction speed is relatively slow when using compressed sensing, time series models could be used to decrease the frequency of reconstruction, hence alleviating its overall cost in a transient simulation. It may also be the case that other wavelet and sampling matrix pairs and reconstruction algorithms will produce better results on some data. Finally, error metrics have to be developed in order to assess a more accurate a priori visual and statistical quality of the reconstructed data. We continue to explore all these ways to improve our algorithms.

## Notes

### Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. Jaideep Ray and Dr. Keita Teranishi for providing valuable discussions and feedback that were helpful to accomplish this work. This work was supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program at Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory managed and operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC., a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International, Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-NA-0003525.

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