The world of computing simulation has experienced great progresses in recent years and requires more exigent multidisciplinary challenges to satisfy the new upcoming demands. Increasing the importance of solving multi-disciplinary problems makes developers put more attention to these problems and deal with difficulties involved in developing software in this area.
Conventional finite element codes have several difficulties in dealing with multi-disciplinary problems. Many of these codes are designed and implemented for solving a certain type of problems, generally involving a single field. Extending these codes to deal with another field of analysis usually consists of several problems and large amounts of modifications and implementations. Some typical difficulties are: predefined set of degrees of freedom per node, data structure with fixed set of defined variables, global list of variables for all entities, domain based interfaces, IO restriction in reading new data and writing new results and algorithm definition inside the code. A common approach is to connect different solvers via a master program which implements the interaction algorithms and also transfers data from one solver to another. This approach has been used successfully in practice but results duplicated implementation and redundant overhead of data storing and transferring which may be significant depending to the solvers data structure.
The objective of this work is to design and implement a framework for building multi-disciplinary finite element programs. Generality, reusability, extendibility, good performance and memory efficiency are considered to be the main points in design and implementation of this framework. Preparing the structure for team development is another objective because usually a team of experts in different fields are involved in the development of multi-disciplinary code. Kratos, the framework created in this work, provides several tools for easy implementation of finite element applications and also provides a common platform for natural interaction of its applications in different ways. This is done not only by a number of innovations but also by collecting and reusing several existing works.
In this work an innovative variable base interface is designed and implemented which is used at different levels of abstraction and showed to be very clear and extendible. Another innovation is a very efficient and flexible data structure which can be used to store any type of data in a type-safe manner. An extendible IO is also created to overcome another bottleneck in dealing with multi-disciplinary problems. Collecting different concepts of existing works and adapting them to coupled problems is considered to be another innovation in this work. Examples are using an interpreter, different data organizations and variable number of dofs per node. The kernel and application approach is used to reduce the possible conflicts arising between developers of different fields and layers are designed to reflect the working space of different developers also considering their programming knowledge. Finally several technical details are applied in order to increase the performance and efficiency of Kratos which makes it practically usable.
This work is completed by demonstrating the framework’s functionality in practice. First some classical single field applications like thermal, fluid and structural applications are implemented and used as benchmark to prove its performance. These applications are used to solve coupled problems in order to demonstrate the natural interaction facility provided by the framework. Finally some less classical coupled finite element algorithms are implemented to show its high flexibility and extendibility.