Felix Herrmann


Director of the Seismic Laboratory for Imaging and Modeling (SLIM)

ESB 4019
(604) 822-8628
Accepting students

The Seismic Laboratory for Imaging and Modeling (SLIM) conducts research in exploration seismology with support from the energy industry. The focus of SLIM is to apply insights from recent developments in compressive sensing— spanning mathematics, computer science, and electrical engineering—towards the design and implementation of an imaging technology for severely sub-sampled data. The main outcome of this approach will be a new model for seismic imaging where the costs of acquisition and processing are no longer determined by overly pessimistic sampling criteria. Instead, costs will depend on transform-domain sparsity of the final image and will no longer grow uncontrollably with the dimensionality of the imaging problem. Our collaboration SINBAD is an industry-supported research consortium that advances this research to push the envelope on seismic data acquisition, processing, and wave-equation based imaging and inversion by adapting recent developments from compressive sensing and machine learning. By incorporating ideas from these research areas into seismic workflows, we offer innovative sampling & inversion strategies where costs are no longer dominated by overly pessimistic sampling criteria and where the inversion results are less sensitive to initial models and parameter settings. By removing our insistence to collect and process all data, we are also in a better position for quality control and uncertainty analysis.

Computational Resources

SLIM OPTIMUM HPC Cluster - 25 Tflops

25 Tflops cluster acquired in late 2014 from SGI with support of the NSERC Collaborative Research and Development program matched by SINBAD industry sponsors. This dedicated system is used for research, development, and testing of SLIM's algorithms.  Linux HPC cluster (based on Intel's Ivy Bridge 2.8 GHz E5-2680v2 processor) with cumulative theoretical peak floating-point performance of 25 Tflops. Compute subsystem of the cluster comprises 1120 CPU cores. The high-speed inter-processor communication utilizes FDR Infiniband network at 56 Gbs. Storage subsystem consist of 176 TB high-throughput Lustre distributed parallel file-system over the Infiniband network and 6 TB of NFS storage over Ethernet network. This equipment was supplied via UBC tender RFP #2013010325.


405 Tflops cluster acquired in mid 2014 from SGI with support of the Brazil Agência Nacional do Petróleo (ANP), this facility forms the cornerstone of the International Inversion Initiative.  The system is used for research, development, and testing of FWI and related inversion technologies, and development of techniques in seismic data processing, big data handling and machine learning.  As key partners in the III project, SLIM is allocated a dedicated 40% capacity on this resource, with the aim of field-testing SLIM's theoretical research results on industrial level (3D) datasets.  An ICE-X Linux HPC cluster  (based on Intel's Ivy Bridge 3 GHz E5-2690v2 processor) with cumulative theoretical peak floating-point performance of 405 Tflops.  The compute subsystem of the cluster comprises 17120 CPU cores. The high-speed inter-processor communication utilizes FDR Infiniband network at 56 Gbs in 6D SGI enhanced hypercube topology. The storage subsystem consist of 432 TB high-throughput Lustre distributed parallel file-system over the Infiniband network.

Related Links: Top 500 entry;   BG Press release

Ph.D., Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands (1997)
Visiting Scholar, Stanford (1998)
Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT (1999-2002)
Faculty Member, UBC (2002 -).
Sabbatical Visitor, Delft University of Technology (2009)
Sabbatical Visitor, Imperial College London (2016)
Director, UBC Seismic Laboratory for Imaging and Modeling (SLIM)

Felix J. Herrmann holds a PhD in Engineering Physics from the Delft University of Technology and completed postdoctoral studies at MIT and Stanford.  He is Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.  He is Director of the UBC Seismic Laboratory for Imaging and Modeling, which he founded in 2003, as well as Director of the the SINBAD Joint Industry Project.  He is Deputy Editor of Geophysical Prospecting.  Dr. Herrmann serves on the advisory boards of the UBC Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences and the UBC Institute for Applied Mathematics.  His research interests include theoretical and applied aspects of exploration seismology, wave-equation based inversion, compressive sensing, and large-scale optimisation. He is a founding member of the International Inversion Initiative.

PDFs and RAs

Research Associate

Graduate Students

PhD Geophysics
MSc Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
MSc Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
MSc Geophysics
Curt Da Silva
PhD, Math
Oscar Lopez
PhD, Math


Emmanouil Daskalakis
Postdoc, Math
Rongrong Wang
Postdoc, Math

Research Staff

Henryk Modzelewski
Research Associate, EOAS
Miranda Joyce
Program Coordinator, SLIM


Lopez O, Kumar R, Yilmaz O, Herrmann FJ. 2016. Off-the-grid low-rank matrix recovery and seismic data reconstruction. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Signal Processing. 10:658-671.

Lin TTY, Herrmann FJ. 2016. Estimation of primaries by sparse inversion with scattering-based multiple predictions for data with large gaps. Geophysics. 81:V183-V197.

Esser E, Guasch L, Herrmann FJ, Warner M. 2016. Constrained waveform inversion for automatic salt flooding. The Leading Edge. 35:235-239.

Tu N, Aravkin AY, van Leeuwen T, Lin TTY, Herrmann FJ. 2016. Source estimation with surface-related multiples–-fast ambiguity-resolved seismic imaging. Geophysical Journal International. 205:1492-1511.

Bougher BB, Herrmann FJ. 2016. Using the scattering transform to predict stratigraphic units from well logs. CSEG Recorder. 41:22-25.

Li X, Esser E, Herrmann FJ. 2016. Modified Gauss-Newton full-waveform inversion explained–-why sparsity-promoting updates do matter


van Leeuwen T, Herrmann FJ. 2015. A penalty method for PDE-constrained optimization in inverse problems. Inverse Problems. 32:015007.

Kumar R, Wason H, Herrmann FJ. 2015. Source separation for simultaneous towed-streamer marine acquisition –- a compressed sensing approach. Geophysics. 80:WD73-WD88.

Da Silva C, Herrmann FJ. 2015. Optimization on the Hierarchical Tucker manifold - applications to tensor completion. Linear Algebra and its Applications. 481:131-173.

Kumar R, Da Silva C, Akalin O, Aravkin AY, Mansour H, Recht B, Herrmann FJ. 2015. Efficient matrix completion for seismic data reconstruction. Geophysics. 80:V97-V114.

Tu N, Herrmann FJ. 2015. Fast least-squares imaging with surface-related multiples: application to a North-Sea data set. The Leading Edge. 34:788–794.

Tu N, Herrmann FJ. 2015. Fast imaging with surface-related multiples by sparse inversion. Geophysical Journal International. 201:304-317.


Aravkin AY, Kumar R, Mansour H, Recht B, Herrmann FJ. 2014. Fast methods for denoising matrix completion formulations, with applications to robust seismic data interpolation. SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing. 36:S237-S266.

van Leeuwen T, Herrmann FJ. 2014. 3D} frequency-domain seismic inversion with controlled sloppiness. SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing. 36:S192-S217.

Jumah B, Herrmann FJ. 2014. Dimensionality-reduced estimation of primaries by sparse inversion. Geophysical Prospecting. 62:972-993.

van Leeuwen T, Aravkin AY, Herrmann FJ. 2014. Comment on: “Application of the variable projection scheme for frequency-domain full-waveform inversion” (M. Li, J. Rickett, and A. Abubakar, Geophysics, 78, no. 6, R249–R257). Geophysics. 79:X11-X17.


van Leeuwen T, Herrmann FJ. 2013. Mitigating local minima in full-waveform inversion by expanding the search space. Geophysical Journal International. 195:661-667.

Herrmann FJ, Calvert AJ, Hanlon I, Javanmehri M, Kumar R, van Leeuwen T, Li X, Smithyman B, Takougang ETakam, Wason H. 2013. Frugal full-waveform inversion: from theory to a practical algorithm. The Leading Edge. 32:1082-1092.

Shahidi R, Tang G, Ma J, Herrmann FJ. 2013. Application of randomized sampling schemes to curvelet-based sparsity-promoting seismic data recovery. Geophysical Prospecting. 61:973-997.

Mansour H, Herrmann FJ, Yilmaz O. 2013. Improved wavefield reconstruction from randomized sampling via weighted one-norm minimization. Geophysics. 78:V193-V206.

van Leeuwen T, Herrmann FJ. 2013. Fast waveform inversion without source encoding. Geophysical Prospecting. 61:10-19.

Moghaddam PP, Keers H, Herrmann FJ, Mulder WA. 2013. A new optimization approach for source-encoding full-waveform inversion. Geophysics. 78:R125-R132.

Lin TTY, Herrmann FJ. 2013. Robust estimation of primaries by sparse inversion via one-norm minimization. Geophysics. 78:R133-R150.

van der Neut J, Herrmann FJ. 2013. Interferometric redatuming by sparse inversion. Geophysical Journal International. 192:666-670.

Herrmann FJ. 2013. Seismic advances. International Innovation. :46-49.


Aravkin AY, Friedlander MP, Herrmann FJ, van Leeuwen T. 2012. Robust inversion, dimensionality reduction, and randomized sampling. Mathematical Programming. 134:101-125.

Haber E, Chung M, Herrmann FJ. 2012. An effective method for parameter estimation with PDE constraints with multiple right hand sides. SIAM Journal on Optimization. 22

Mansour H, Wason H, Lin TTY, Herrmann FJ. 2012. Randomized marine acquisition with compressive sampling matrices. Geophysical Prospecting. 60:648-662.

Herrmann FJ, Li X. 2012. Efficient least-squares imaging with sparsity promotion and compressive sensing. Geophysical Prospecting. 60:696-712.

Li X, Aravkin AY, van Leeuwen T, Herrmann FJ. 2012. Fast randomized full-waveform inversion with compressive sensing. Geophysics. 77:A13-A17.

Herrmann FJ, Friedlander MP, Yilmaz O. 2012. Fighting the curse of dimensionality: compressive sensing in exploration seismology. Signal Processing Magazine, IEEE. 29:88-100.


van Leeuwen T, Aravkin AY, Herrmann FJ. 2011. Seismic waveform inversion by stochastic optimization. International Journal of Geophysics. 2011

Kumar V, Oueity J, Clowes R, Herrmann FJ. 2011. Enhancing crustal reflection data through curvelet denoising. Technophysics. 508:106-116.

Herrmann FJ, Wason H, Lin TTY. 2011. Compressive sensing in seismic exploration: an outlook on a new paradigm. CSEG Recorder. 36:34-39.


Herrmann FJ. 2010. Randomized sampling and sparsity: getting more information from fewer samples. Geophysics. 75:WB173-WB187.

Hennenfent G, Fenelon L, Herrmann FJ. 2010. Nonequispaced curvelet transform for seismic data reconstruction: a sparsity-promoting approach. Geophysics. 75:WB203-WB210.


Herrmann FJ, Erlangga YA, Lin TTY. 2009. Compressive simultaneous full-waveform simulation. Geophysics. 74:A35-A40.

Herrmann FJ, Brown CR, Erlangga YA, Moghaddam PP. 2009. Curvelet-based migration preconditioning and scaling. Geophysics. 74:A41-A46.

van den Berg E, Friedlander MP, Hennenfent G, Herrmann FJ, Saab R, Yilmaz O. 2009. Sparco: a testing framework for sparse reconstruction. ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software. 35:1-16.


Herrmann FJ, Wang D, Verschuur D.J. 2008. Adaptive curvelet-domain primary-multiple separation. Geophysics. 73:A17-A21.

Hennenfent G, van den Berg E, Friedlander MP, Herrmann FJ. 2008. New insights into one-norm solvers from the Pareto curve. Geophysics. 73:A23-A26.

Wang D, Saab R, Yilmaz O, Herrmann FJ. 2008. Bayesian wavefield separation by transform-domain sparsity promotion. Geophysics. 73:1-6.

Hennenfent G, Herrmann FJ. 2008. Simply denoise: wavefield reconstruction via jittered undersampling. Geophysics. 73:V19-V28.

Herrmann FJ, Hennenfent G. 2008. Non-parametric seismic data recovery with curvelet frames. Geophysical Journal International. 173:233-248.

Herrmann FJ, Wang D, Hennenfent G, Moghaddam PP. 2008. Curvelet-based seismic data processing: a multiscale and nonlinear approach. Geophysics. 73:A1-A5.

Herrmann FJ, Moghaddam PP, Stolk C. 2008. Sparsity- and continuity-promoting seismic image recovery with curvelet frames. Applied and Computational Harmonic Analysis. 24:150-173.


Herrmann FJ, Boeniger U, Verschuur D.J. 2007. Non-linear primary-multiple separation with directional curvelet frames. Geophysical Journal International. 170:781-799.

Lin TTY, Herrmann FJ. 2007. Compressed wavefield extrapolation. Geophysics. 72:SM77-SM93.


Hennenfent G, Herrmann FJ. 2006. Seismic denoising with nonuniformly sampled curvelets. Computing in Science & Engineering. 8:16-25.


Herrmann FJ. 2005. Seismic deconvolution by atomic decomposition: a parametric approach with sparseness constraints. Integrated Computer-Aided Engineering. 12:69-90.


Bernabé Y., Mok U., Evans B., Herrmann FJ. 2004. Permeability and storativity of binary mixtures of high-and low-porosity materials. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 109:B12207.

Herrmann FJ, Bernabé Y.. 2004. Seismic singularities at upper-mantle phase transitions: a site percolation model. Geophysical Journal International. 159:949-960.