This work addresses the inverse identification of apparent elastic properties of random heterogeneous materials using machine learning based on artificial neural networks. The proposed neural network-based identification method requires the construction of a database from which an artificial neural network can be trained to learn the nonlinear relationship between the hyperparameters of a prior stochastic model of the random compliance field and some relevant quantities of interest of an ad hoc multiscale computational model. An initial database made up with input and target data is first generated from the computational model, from which a processed database is deduced by conditioning the input data with respect to the target data using the nonparametric statistics. Two-and three-layer feedforward artificial neural networks are then trained from each of the initial and processed databases to construct an algebraic representation of the nonlinear mapping between the hyperparameters (network outputs) and the quantities of interest (network inputs). The performances of the trained artificial neural networks are analyzed in terms of mean squared error, linear regression fit and probability distribution between network outputs and targets for both databases. An ad hoc probabilistic model of the input random vector is finally proposed in order to take into account uncertainties on the network input and to perform a robustness analysis of the network output with respect to the input uncertainties level. The capability of the proposed neural network-based identification method to efficiently solve the underlying statistical inverse problem is illustrated through two numerical examples developed within the framework of 2D plane stress linear elasticity, namely a first validation example on synthetic data obtained through computational simulations and a second application example on real experimental data obtained through a physical experiment monitored by digital image correlation on a real heterogeneous biological material (beef cortical bone).

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