SyReNets is an approach that leverages neural networks for learning symbolic relations to accurately describe dynamic physical systems. It explores a sequence of symbolic layers that build, in a residual manner, mathematical relations that describe a given desired output from input. The approach is evaluated using a simulations controlled double pendulum.
Despite successful seminal works on passive systems in the literature, learning free-form physical laws for controlled dynamical systems given experimental data is still an open problem. For decades, symbolic mathematical equations and system identification were the golden standards. Unfortunately, a set of assumptions about the properties of the underlying system is required, which makes the model very rigid and unable to adapt to unforeseen changes in the physical system. Neural networks, on the other hand, are known universal function approximators but are prone to over-fit, limited accuracy, and bias problems, which makes them alone unreliable candidates for such tasks. In this paper, we propose SyReNets, an approach that leverages neural networks for learning symbolic relations to accurately describe dynamic physical systems from data. It explores a sequence of symbolic layers that build, in a residual manner, mathematical relations that describes a given desired output from input variables. We apply it to learn the symbolic equation that describes the Lagrangian of a given physical system. We do this by only observing random samples of position, velocity, and acceleration as input and torque as output. Therefore, using the Lagrangian as a latent representation from which we derive torque using the Euler-Lagrange equations. The approach is evaluated using a simulated controlled double pendulum and compared with neural networks, genetic programming, and traditional system identification. The results demonstrate that, compared to neural networks and genetic programming, SyReNets converges to representations that are more accurate and precise throughout the state space. Despite having slower convergence than traditional system identification, similar to neural networks, the approach remains flexible enough to adapt to an unforeseen change in the physical system structure.