On Universal Approximation and Error Bounds for Fourier Neural Operators

Nikola Kovachki, Samuel Lanthaler, Siddhartha Mishra.

Year: 2021, Volume: 22, Issue: 290, Pages: 1−76


Fourier neural operators (FNOs) have recently been proposed as an effective framework for learning operators that map between infinite-dimensional spaces. We prove that FNOs are universal, in the sense that they can approximate any continuous operator to desired accuracy. Moreover, we suggest a mechanism by which FNOs can approximate operators associated with PDEs efficiently. Explicit error bounds are derived to show that the size of the FNO, approximating operators associated with a Darcy type elliptic PDE and with the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations of fluid dynamics, only increases sub (log)-linearly in terms of the reciprocal of the error. Thus, FNOs are shown to efficiently approximate operators arising in a large class of PDEs.