Estimating Contact Force Chains Using Artificial Neural Network

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Original languageEnglish
Article number6278
Journal / PublicationApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number14
Online published7 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021



The inhomogeneous distribution of contact force chains (CFC) in quasi-statically sheared granular materials dominates their bulk mechanical properties. Although previous micromechanical investigations have gained significant insights into the statistical and spatial distribution of CFC, they still lack the capacity to quantitatively estimate CFC evolution in a sheared granular system. In this paper, an artificial neural network (ANN) based on discrete element method (DEM) simulation data is developed and applied to predict the anisotropy of CFC in an assembly of spherical grains undergoing a biaxial test. Five particle-scale features including particle size, coordination number, x- and y-velocity (i.e., x and y-components of the particle velocity), and spin, which all contain predictive information about the CFC, are used to establish the ANN. The results of the model prediction show that the combined features of particle size and coordination number have a dominating influence on the CFC’s estimation. An excellent model performance manifested in a close match between the rose diagrams of the CFC from the ANN predictions and DEM simulations is obtained with a mean accuracy of about 0.85. This study has shown that machine learning is a promising tool for studying the complex mechanical behaviors of granular materials.

Research Area(s)

  • neural network, machine learning, contact force chains, granular material, DEM

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