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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W029731/1
Title: Firedrake: high performance, high productivity simulation for the continuum mechanics community.
Principal Investigator: Ham, Dr DA
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Georgia Institute of Technology University of Leeds University of Leicester
University of Oxford
Department: Mathematics
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2022 Ends: 31 March 2025 Value (£): 688,848
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Continuum Mechanics Numerical Analysis
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Mar 2022 Software for Research Communities Full Proposal Prioritisation Panel Announced
22 Nov 2021 Software for Research Communities Sift Panel 3 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This project will extend and enhance the Firedrake automated finite element

simulation system to allow researchers across the field of continuum mechanics

to simulate a wider range of physical phenomena using more sophisticated

techniques than they would be able to code themselves, and to do so by

specifying the simulation from highly productive mathematical interface

embedded in Python.

The simulation of continuous physical systems described by partial differential

equations (PDEs) is a mainstay activity of computational science. This spans

the integrity of structures, the efficiency of industrial processes built on

fluid flow, and the propagation of electromagnetic waves from an antenna to

name but a few.

Each simulation demands the choice of an appropriate PDE, an accurate and

stable discretisation, the efficient parallel assembly of the resulting

matrices and vectors, and the fast, scalable solution of the resulting

numerical system. Every simulation is the composition of a chain of processes,

each of which is a research domain in its own right.

Most computational continuum mechanics research happens in small teams. These

groups constantly tackle new problems, needing changes at every level of the

simulation chain. The challenge is to allow individual researchers and small

teams to put together their own simulations, without requiring the impossible

by every researcher becoming an expert on the implementation of every stage of

the process.

Firedrake employs a mathematical language embedded in Python that enables

researchers to write the simulation they wish to execute in a highly productive

and concise way. The high performance parallel implementation of the simulation

is then automatically generated by specialised compilers at runtime. The result

is a system in which scientists and engineers write maths and get simulation.

This frees researchers to focus on the continuum mechanics question at hand

rather than the mechanics of creating the simulation.

Firedrake is a widely employed community code with hundreds of published

applications across continuum mechanics. For many researchers, Firedrake

clearly already meets at least some of their needs. However, the sophistication

of continuum mechanics research is boundless: there are always users and

potential users whose problems cannot fully be expressed in Firedrake's high

level mathematical language. This project will address several such

limitations, chosen in response to formal Firedrake user engagement over the

last two years.

First, we will extend Firedrake's capabilities in solving coupled multi-domain

systems. This will enable Firedrake users to more effectively tackle simulation

challenges such as the impact of sea waves on wind turbine columns.

Second, we will extend Firedrake's automated inverse capabilities to include

complex-valued problems. This will significantly benefit users wishing

to simulate optimal design problems involving electromagnetic waves.

Third, we will extend the range of meshes that Firedrake can employ to include

unstructured hexahedral meshes, and hierarchically refined meshes. This will

improve Firedrake's support for efficient high order discontinuous Galerkin

discretisations and for multiscale problems such as folding of materials.

In addition to extending Firedrake's technical capabilities, this project will

grow and support the community of continuum mechanics researchers using

Firedrake. We will reduce the technical knowledge needed to install Firedrake

by providing packages for the main desktop operating systems. We will run

tutorials, workshops, and provide online support to new and existing Firedrake

users. An "open door" programme of user visits to the Firedrake core developers

will provide personal one on one assistance with their simulation needs. We

will invest significant time in the extension and maintenance of Firedrake's high

quality documentation.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk