Experimentalists, theoreticians and computer scientists from the University of Houston and the University of Texas at San Antonio have joined to study a unique physical system -- burner stabilized premixed flames. The interdisciplinary research group develops tools to further the fundamental understanding of pattern-forming systems through visualization, animation, measurement and modeling.

Premixed flames provide a unique experimental setting for studying the dynamics of pattern formation. The hotter regions appear as cells that are separated by the darker, cooler cusps and folds.

Cellular patterns in uniform, extended continua form via spontaneous symmetry-breaking. Consequently there are qualitative properties of the cellular state that transcend the physical system, thus leading to universal features.

These systems have hundreds of states ranging from highly ordered to intermittent and chaotic. Image processing, visualization and computer animations are used to analyze the resulting motions.

An important technique we are using to understand transitions is the decomposition of states into their empirical eigenmodes using K-L decomposition. We then animate the decomposition to obtain new insights into the motion.