OptCutCell: Simulation-based optimisation with dynamic domains

Computer-based optimisation is finding its way into nearly all disciplines of science and engineering. Already today, optimisation is used to design more efficient cars and airplanes, to control large wind farms, to predict the weather and the ocean, and to identify the best  strategy to extract oil from a reservoir. However, today’s optimisation techniques typically assume a fixed, or nearly fixed simulation geometry. This assumption is a severe limitation for many real-world engineering and biological processes: for example wind and water turbines and the human cardiovascular system undergo great rotations and deformations that need to be captured in a representative computer model. Therefore, the grand challenge is to able to optimise systems with dynamic domains, that is, domains that change in time.

The overall ambition of the OptCutCell project is to enable the solution of optimisation problems with dynamic domains. To achieve this goal, we develop the required mathematical and numerical methods, as well as generic, user-friendly, open-source simulation and optimisation software. The mathematical and numerical methods will be based on a multi-mesh approach, in which multiple, independent simulation domains can overlap and interact with each other. The software will be developed within the FEniCS and the dolfin-adjoint framework, winner of the 2015 Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software. The new software platform will be demonstrated and tested on two industrial and scientific applications: the optimal design of a stent to minimise risk of blood vessel rupture, and the optimisation of tidal stream turbine performance.

OptCutCell is headed by Dr. Simon Funke and brings together researchers from Simula Research Laboratory, Umeå University (Sweden), Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), Technische Universität Darmstadt (Germany) and two international industrial partners (UK and US). These partners join in a multidisciplinary collaboration involving computer science, applied mathematics, bioengineering, fluid mechanics, and perspectives from the medical and renewable energy industry sectors.

Final goal

The OptCutCell project aims to enable the solution of large-scale optimisation problems with multiple dynamic domains through new numerical methods and simulation technology. The goal is achieved by developing mathematical theory, numerical methods, as well as designing and implementing a general, highly-automated, open-source software platform in which the user specifies the problem in a language that mimics the mathematical notation.

Funding source

The Research Council of Norway (FRINATEK)

Project leader

Dr. Simon Funke

Active projects


Biomedical Computing