Fluid flow and optical flow

Tianshu Liu, Lixin Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

251 Scopus citations


The connection between fluid flow and optical flow is explored in typical flow visualizations to provide a rational foundation for application of the optical flow method to image-based fluid velocity measurements. The projected-motion equations are derived, and the physics-based optical flow equation is given. In general, the optical flow is proportional to the path-averaged velocity of fluid or particles weighted with a relevant field quantity. The variational formulation and the corresponding Euler - Lagrange equation are given for optical flow computation. An error analysis for optical flow computation is provided, which is quantitatively examined by simulations on synthetic grid images. Direct comparisons between the optical flow method and the correlation-based method are made in simulations on synthetic particle images and experiments in a strongly excited turbulent jet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-291
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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