Section: Application Domains

Geometric modeling for Numerical Simulation and Optimization

A major bottleneck in the CAD-CAM developments is the lack of interoperability of modeling systems and simulation systems. This is strongly influenced by their development history, as they have been following different paths.

The geometric tools have evolved from supporting a limited number of tasks at separate stages in product development and manufacturing, to being essential in all phases from initial design through manufacturing.

Current Finite Element Analysis (FEA) technology was already well established 40 years ago, when CAD-systems just started to appear, and its success stems from using approximations of both the geometry and the analysis model with low order finite elements (most often of degree 2).

There has been no requirement between CAD and numerical simulation, based on Finite Element Analysis, leading to incompatible mathematical representations in CAD and FEA. This incompatibility makes interoperability of CAD/CAM and FEA very challenging. In the general case today this challenge is addressed by expensive and time-consuming human intervention and software developments.

Improving this interaction by using adequate geometric and functional descriptions should boost the interaction between numerical analysis and geometric modeling, with important implications in shape optimization. In particular, it could provide a better feedback of numerical simulations on the geometric model in a design optimization loop, which incorporates iterative analysis steps.

The situation is evolving. In the past decade, a new paradigm has emerged to replace the traditional Finite Elements by B-Spline basis element of any polynomial degree, thus in principle enabling exact representation of all shapes that can be modelled in CAD. It has been demonstrated that the so-called isogeometric analysis approach can be far more accurate than traditional FEA.

It opens new perspectives for the interoperability between geometric modeling and numerical simulation. The development of numerical methods of high order using a precise description of the shapes raises questions on piecewise polynomial elements, on the description of computational domains and of their interfaces, on the construction of good function spaces to approximate physical solutions. All these problems involve geometric considerations and are closely related to the theory of splines and to the geometric methods we are investigating. We plan to apply our work to the development of new interactions between geometric modeling and numerical solvers.