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The magnetic flux leakage (MFL) technique, commonly used for nondestructive testing of oil and gas pipelines, involves the detection of defects and anomalies in the pipe wall and the evaluation of the severity of these defects. The difficulty with the MFL method is the extent and complexity of the analysis of the MFL images. In this paper, we show how modern machine learning techniques can be used to considerable advantage in this respect. We apply the methods of support vector regression, kernelization techniques, principal component analysis, partial least squares, and methods for reducing the dimensionality of the feature space. We demonstrate the adequacy of the performance of these methods using real MFL data collected from pipelines, with regard to the performance of both the detection of defects and the accuracy in the estimation of the severity of the defects. We also show how low-dimensional latent variable structures can be effective for visualizing the clustering behavior of the classifier.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2009