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Computer Based Simulation

 Until recently, product design involved physical experiments and prototypes, which are time-consuming and expensive. We’re driving progress towards design, simulation and product evaluation increasingly taking place in computer based virtual environments.

Techniques such as these allowed the Boeing 777 airliner to be designed, test flown, and altered as required before a single component was manufactured.

Our research in computer-based simulation focuses on two areas: Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Analysis (CAA).

Computer Aided Design

We currently focus our CAD research on the use of Partial Differential Equations (PDEs). PDEs can be used to describe the geometry of complicated objects so that the designer can create and manipulate them in an interactive environment. These techniques are used in developing new CAD software, or integrated into existing CAD packages.

Here’s one application of PDE techniques within CAD: the physical simulation of complex deformable systems in order to generate motion in computer-generated animation. Using PDEs lets us animate realistic objects by performing a series of curve transformations – the curves correspond to the character lines or the object boundaries. Our next challenge involves parameterising shapes to perform realistic animation models (e.g. animation of human figures and cartoon characters) in computer games and video.

Computer Aided Analysis

One of the major tasks in simulation-based design is to compute the functional properties of the object: for example strength, heat transfer, hydrodynamic or aerodynamic characteristics. The proper linking of complicated surface geometry to analysis has been identified as a bottleneck in the implementation of simulation-based design, so our present work involves developing effective methods for integrating geometry with analysis for automated optimal design.

You'll find examples of both areas of this work in several Research Case Studies.