Invariance transformations for processing NDE signals

Mandayam, Shreekanth
Major Professor
Lalita Udpa
Committee Member
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Electrical and Computer Engineering

The ultimate objective in nondestructive evaluation (NDE) is the characterization of materials, on the basis of information in the response from energy/material interactions. This is commonly referred to as the "inverse problem." Inverse problems are in general ill-posed and full analytical solutions to these problems are seldom tractable. Pragmatic approaches for solving them employ a constrained search technique by limiting the space of all possible solutions. A more modest goal is therefore to use the received signal for characterizing defects in objects in terms of the location, size and shape. However, the NDE signal received by the sensors is influenced not only by the defect, but also by the operational parameters associated with the experiment. This dissertation deals with the subject of invariant pattern recognition techniques that render NDE signals insensitive to operational variables, while at the same time, preserve or enhance defect related information. Such techniques are comprised of invariance transformations that operate on the raw signals prior to interpretation using subsequent defect characterization schemes. Invariance transformations are studied in the context of the magnetostatic flux leakage (MFL) inspection technique, which is the method of choice for inspecting natural gas transmission pipelines buried underground;The magnetic flux leakage signal received by the scanning device is very sensitive to a number of operational parameters. Factors that have a major impact on the signal include those caused by variations in the permeability of the pipe-wall material and the velocity of the inspection tool. This study describes novel approaches to compensate for the effects of these variables;Two types of invariance schemes, feature selection and signal compensation, are studied. In the feature selection approach, the invariance transformation is recast as a problem in interpolation of scattered, multi-dimensional data. A variety of interpolation techniques are explored, the most powerful among them being feed-forward neural networks. The second parametric variation is compensated by using restoration filters. The filter kernels are derived using a constrained, stochastic least square optimization technique or by adaptive methods. Both linear and non-linear filters are studied as tools for signal compensation;Results showing the successful application of these invariance transformations to real and simulated MFL data are presented.