Friday, February 18, 2011

Autodesk to Acquire Blue Ridge Numerics, CFdesign

Autodesk to Acquire Blue Ridge Numerics, CFdesign has been annoced in following press release. Looks like CAE space is getting polarize with major player, Game Is On!!!

Sandip


SAN RAFAEL, Calif., Feb. 17, 2011 — Autodesk, Inc., (NASDAQ: ADSK), a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Blue Ridge Numerics, Inc., a leading provider of simulation software, for approximately $39 million in cash. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in Autodesk’s first quarter of fiscal 2012 (which ends on April 30, 2011).

Charlottesville, Virginia-based Blue Ridge Numerics’ CFdesign technology will be an important addition to the Autodesk simulation software portfolio for manufacturers, which currently includes Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Algor Simulation and Autodesk Moldflow. It will broaden the Autodesk solution for Digital Prototyping to provide customers with a spectrum of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) capabilities
that help automate fluid flow and thermal simulation decision-making for designs, while eliminating costly physical prototyping cycles.


"Simulation represents a significant growth area for Autodesk, and we are focused on strengthening our portfolio in this area both organically and through acquisitions," said Robert ―Buzz Kross, senior vice president of the Manufacturing Industry Group at Autodesk. "The acquisition of Blue Ridge Numerics will add important new simulation capabilities to virtually test and predict how a product or building design will work, allowing our customers to compete more effectively at every step of the design process."
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"Since 1992, Blue Ridge Numerics’ comprehensive CFD tools have helped engineers improve quality, accelerate time-to-market and drive profitability," said Ed Williams, president and co-founder of Blue Ridge Numerics. "Autodesk is a valued business partner, and the combination of both companies’ proven Digital Prototyping technologies will help customers worldwide tackle complex engineering challenges and ultimately be more successful with their designs."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Opportunity to learn ACIS Geometric Kernel and Hoops 3D Graphics system in 3 day workshop

I am attending workshop organized by Spatial Corporation from February 21st to 24th, 2011 at IISc, Bangalore. ACIS- Geometric Kernel, 3D Interop – CAD translation library and Hoops – 3D graphics system by Techsoft3D would be covered in 4 days. It is a good opportunity to have quick hands on important tools of CAx software development. You can register yourself free at http://www.spatial.com/community/2011-spatial-seminar-india. Make sure your registration is confirmed as there are limited seats.


This is an excellent proactive major by Spatial to reach to world fastest moveing economy, India. Developer and researcher will be provided hands on and expert talk on their components, technologies and more important how to use them. I have come across few CAD developers or manager who does not what is geometric kernel or what is Scene Graph or have heard just name. Also many does not have idea how it is beneficial to their 3D product development. I do not consider it as totally their fault. Very less information is available about Geometric Kernel, Constrain Solvers and advance graphics system in public domain.


ACIS is considered to be acronym Alan, Charles, Ian's System name of three founders. ACIS empowers lot many CAx software, latest from famous one is SpaceClaim. ACIS as Geometric Kernel have been developed for more than 25 year. (I guess this year they would be completing Silver jubilee). ACIS provides C++ API interface for accessing more than 300 unique functionalities. Model Representation, Creation, Editing, Rendering and Application Support can be considered as sub set of modules. You can access complete documentation (yes completely open) of ACIS at: http://doc.spatial.com/index.php/3D_ACIS_Modeler.

Interestingly ACIS has little different topological structure as shown in above structure. Each of topological entity can be defined in following manner:

  • BODY - The highest level of model objects, and is composed of lumps.
  • LUMP - A 1D, 2D, or 3D set of points in space that is disjoint with all other lumps. It is bounded by shells.
  • SHELL - A set of connected faces and wires, and can bound the outside of a solid or an internal void (hollow).
  • Subshells form a further decomposition of shells for internal efficiency purposes.
  • FACE - A connected portion of a surface bounded by a set of loops.
  • LOOP - A connected series of co edges. Generally, loops are closed, having no actual start or end point.
  • WIRE - A connected series of co edges that are not attached to a face.
  • COEDGE - Represents the use of an edge by a face. It may also represent the use of an edge by a wire.
  • EDGE - A curve bounded by vertices
  • VERTEX - Location of a point


Model structure of ACIS is shown in below figure. Various API are provided to access all the relations. Figure also show how geometry is mapped to topological entity to define complete BREP model.

I would write details article on ACIS to explain the system in comprehensive manner. Mean time do attend Workshop and also a session on ACIS at GeomTech.


In Bangalore workshop, 3D Interop is second component in focus. 3D Interop is another famous CAx component developed by Spatial Corp. I think most of its development happens at 3D PLM Software at Pune. As matter of fact our CCTech’s five DACAD student are the developer in this division J. 3D Interop provides strong CAD connection to more than 15 CAD systems in native format. I think it is one of its kind components as there is hardly any competitor for the bundle of feature it offers.


Last component that would be covered is Hoops 3D by TechSoft 3D. Hoops 3D is advance graphics system which is internally uses OpenGL or DirectX. One of the question often asked is if OpenGL can do all the graphics why another system ? Anyone who had written code in OpenGL would have realize, OpenGL API are pretty low level. To draw the circle you have to 5 line function. For doing hidden line operation, surface rendering one really need to get into fundaments of graphics. Last but not the least OpenGL’s most sophisticated way of saving the data is by mean of display list.


HOOPS3D scores in all of these three points. HOOPS3D is retain mode graphics whereas OpenGL is immediate mode graphics. HOOPS3D provide API to manipulate SceneGraph and high end functionality to create geometric primitives; second it provides simple API to control your rendering pipe line and third has lot application level functionalities. No doubt it accelerates your CAx product development.

Above picture give big picture of HOOPS3D ! As one can see play role of controller and saves you from the pain of low level bug fixing.


Rajesh Bharatiya, Member of Advisory Committee GeomTech and CEO, ProtoTech Solution would be conducting the few HOOPS 3D sessions in Bangalore. Rajesh and his company has been association with TechSoft3D from long time. Mostly we will also have session in GeomTech on HOOPS3D to see understand it better.


Once again it is heartening to see development forums and events in India gaining the momentum. It is not far to that many indigenous commercial CAD/CAM/CFD software from India starts to flood the world market!!!


PS:

CGM -Convergence Geometric Modeler would be also introduce in the seminar. To know more about CGM Visit:http://www.spatial.com/downloads/datasheet_cgm10.pdf

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brief History of Manifold Topology

[This blog is a repost from my other blog site, thought would be useful to GeomTech reader]

CAD solid models are consisting of geometry and topology. Geometry by virtue of its visualization capability is easy to understand and comprehend. Topology is on the other hand, more of pure virtual concept hence many find it difficult to understand. In this article brief introduction to manifold topology is illustrated. Intended audience is new CAD developers or students of computational geometry.
Geometry is a part of mathematics concerned with questions of size, shape, and relative position of figures and with properties of space. Many scientists have made contribution to its theory and lot has changed since Euler first laid foundation stone of Geometry. Following is brief review of the development.
Euclid 300 BC, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician and is often referred to as the Father of Geometry. His work “Elements” is the most successful textbook in the history of mathematics. In “Elements”, the principles of what is now called Euclidean geometry were deduced from a small set of axioms. The geometrical system described in the “Elements” was long known simply as geometry, and was considered to be the only geometry possible. Today, however, that system is often referred to as Euclidean geometry to distinguish it from other so-called Non-Euclidean geometries that mathematicians discovered in the 19th century.
Euclid undertook a study of relationships among distances and angles, first in a plane (an idealized flat surface) and then in space. An example of such a relationship is that the sum of the angles in a triangle is always 180 degrees. Today these relationships are known as two- and three-dimensional Euclidean geometry. An essential property of a Euclidean space is its flatness. Important point to note is other spaces exist in geometry that are not Euclidean. For example, the surface of a sphere is not; a triangle on a sphere (suitably defined) will have angles that sum to something greater than 180 degrees.
Next major contribution in Geometry came after around 2000 year by Leonhard Paul Euler (15 April 1707 – 18 September 1783). In 1736, Euler solved the problem known as the Seven Bridges of Königsberg. The city of Königsberg, Prussia was set on the Pregel River, and included two large islands which were connected to each other and the mainland by seven bridges. The problem is to decide whether it is possible to follow a path that crosses each bridge exactly once and returns to the starting point. It is not: there is no Eulerian circuit. This solution is considered to be the first theorem of graph theory, specifically of planar graph theory.

In the processEuler also discovered the formula V − E + F = 2 relating the number of vertices, edges, and faces of a convex polyhedron, and hence of a planar graph. The constant in this formula is now known as the Euler characteristic for the graph (or other mathematical object), and is related to the genus of the object. The study and generalization of this formula, specifically by Cauchy and L'Huillier, is at the origin of topology.
Next path breaking contribution was from Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann (September 17, 1826 – July 20, 1866) an extremely influential German mathematician who made important Non-Euclidean geometries. This discovery was a major paradigm shift in mathematics, as it freed mathematicians from the mistaken belief that Euclid's axioms were the only way to make geometry consistent and non-contradictory. Research on these geometries led to, among other things, Einstein's theory of general relativity, which describes the universe as non-Euclidean. The subject founded by his work is Riemannian geometry. Riemann found the correct way to extend into n dimensions the differential geometry of surfaces. The fundamental object is called the Riemann curvature tensor. For the surface case, this can be reduced to a number (scalar), positive, negative or zero; the non-zero and constant cases being models of the known non-Euclidean geometries. contributions to analysis and differential geometry. He was first one to discover
Riemannian geometry is the branch of differential geometry that studies Riemannian manifolds, smooth manifolds with a Riemannian metric, i.e. with an inner product on the tangent space at each point which varies smoothly from point to point. This gives in particular local notions of angle, length of curves, surface area, and volume. From those some other global quantities can be derived by integrating local contributions. Riemannian geometry deals with a broad range of geometries categorized into two standard types of Non-Euclidean geometry,spherical geometry and hyperbolic geometry, as well as Euclidean geometry itself.
Non-Euclidean geometry describes hyperbolic and elliptic geometry, which are contrasted with Euclidean geometry. The essential difference between Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry is the nature of parallel lines. Euclid's fifth postulate, the parallel postulate, is equivalent to Playfair's postulate, which states that, within a two-dimensional plane, for any given line l and a point A, which is not on l, there is exactly one line through A that does not intersect l. In hyperbolic geometry, by contrast, there are infinitely many lines through A not intersecting l, while in elliptic geometry, any line through A intersects l.

Another way to describe the differences between these geometries is as follows: Consider two straight lines indefinitely extended in a two-dimensional plane that are both perpendicular to a third line. In Euclidean geometry the lines remain at a constant distance from each other, and are known as parallels. In hyperbolic geometry they "curve away" from each other, increasing in distance as one moves further from the points of intersection with the common perpendicular; these lines are often called ultra parallels. In elliptic geometry the lines "curve toward" each other and eventually intersect.
We started discussing how we end up in geometry discussion? I felt it was necessary to create basic understanding of historical development of Euclidean Geometry and Non-Euclidian geometry to understand next topics.

As we saw earlier Euler was first one publish paper on topology in seven bridge problem demonstrating that it was impossible to find a route through the town of Königsberg that would cross each of its seven bridges exactly once. This result did not depend on the lengths of the bridges, nor on their distance from one another, but only on connectivity properties: which bridges are connected to which islands or riverbanks. In other words to solve many of geometric problems we do not need to know spatial information but what is requiring to be known is neighborhood or connectivity information termed as topology.
Problems like a Möbius strip, an object with only one surface and one edge; such shapes are alos an object of study in topology.
Jules Henri Poincaré (29 April 1854 – 17 July 1912) was a French mathematician and theoretical physicist, and a philosopher of science.
As a mathematician and physicist, he made many original fundamental contributions to pure and applied mathematics, mathematical physics, and celestial mechanics. He was responsible for formulating the Poincaré conjecture, one of the most famous problems in mathematics. In his research on the three-body problem, Poincaré became the first person to discover a chaotic deterministic system which laid the foundations of modern chaos theory.
He was a founder of topology, also known as “rubber-sheet geometry,” for its focus on the intrinsic properties of spaces.
From a topologist’s perspective, there is no difference between a bagel (shape like torus or from Indian menu medu wada J ) and a coffee cup with a handle. Each has a single hole and can be manipulated to resemble the other without being torn or cut. Poincaré used the term “manifold” to describe such an abstract topological space.

The simplest possible two-dimensional manifold is the surface of a soccer ball, which, to a topologist, is a sphere—even when it is stomped on, stretched, or crumpled. The proof that an object is a so-called two-sphere, since it can take on any number of shapes, is that it is “simply connected,” meaning that no holes puncture it. Unlike a soccer ball, a bagel is not a true sphere. If you tie a slipknot around a soccer ball, you can easily pull the slipknot closed by sliding it along the surface of the ball. But if you tie a slipknot around a bagel through the hole in its middle you cannot pull the slipknot closed without tearing the bagel.


Euler- Poincaré equation
Euler’s polyhedron formula was applicable to only simple polyhedron. This new equation from Poincaré provides relationship between topological elements for any single two-manifold body.
V -E + F - Li = 2(1 - G)
where,
V : Number of vertices.
E: Number of edges.
F: Number of faces.
Li: Number of interior loops.
G: Genus, the number of closed paths on a surface which do not separate the surface into more than one region. Or, genus is the number of handles to be added to a sphere to make it homeomorphic to the object.
Classification of manifolds
· 0-manifold is just a discrete space. Eg Point in Cartesian space corresponds to vertex in topological space. Point or set of points are zero dimensional manifolds
· 1-manifold is curve in Cartesian space. Eg circle, line, parabole b-spline curve (non intersecting)
· 2-manfold is surface Cartesian space. Sphere (empty inside), torus, plane, cylinder, b-spline surface (if closed empty inside, orientable and non self-intersecting ) , circular disc
· 3-manfold is 3 dimensional manifold. Eg Solid Objects, Solid Sphere, Solid Cylinder, Our universe J
Two-dimensional manifolds were well understood by the mid-nineteenth century. But it remained unclear whether what was true for two dimensions was also true for three. Poincaré proposed that all closed, simply connected, three-dimensional manifolds—those which lack holes and are of finite extent—were spheres. The conjecture was potentially important for scientists studying the largest known three-dimensional manifold: the universe. Proving it mathematically, however, was far from easy. Most attempts were merely embarrassing, but some led to important mathematical discoveries, including proofs of Dehn’s Lemma, the Sphere Theorem, and the Loop Theorem, which are now fundamental concepts in topology.
By the nineteen-sixties, topology had become one of the most productive areas of mathematics, and young topologists were launching regular attacks on the Poincaré. To the astonishment of most mathematicians, it turned out that manifolds of the fourth, fifth, and higher dimensions were more tractable than those of the third dimension. By 1982, Poincaré’s conjecture had been proved in all dimensions except the third. In 2000, the Clay Mathematics Institute, a private foundation that promotes mathematical research, named the Poincaré one of the seven most important outstanding problems in mathematics and offered a million dollars to anyone who could prove it.

After nearly a century of effort by mathematicians, Grigori Perelman sketched a proof of the conjecture in a series of papers made available in 2002 and 2003. The proof followed the program of Richard Hamilton. Several high-profile teams of mathematicians have since verified the correctness of Perelman's proof.
The Poincaré conjecture was, before being proven, one of the most important open questions in topology. It is one of the seven Millennium Prize Problems, for which the Clay Mathematics Institute offered a $1,000,000 prize for the first correct solution. Perelman's work survived review and was confirmed in 2006, leading to him being offered a Fields Medal, which he declined. The Poincaré conjecture remains the only solved Millennium problem.
This article was written with the help of various sources of web sources, mainly Wikipedia. Intention is to explain interesting subject such as manifold which carries paramount importance in CAD development in less mathematical and elaborative manner. Research in Manifolds is as recent as 2006 and is one of the most studied area in mathematics.

Any Midrange CAD software at $99/month and High-end CAD software at $199/month?

Wait, I am not offering the deal, I am just wondering if this can be the reality ? Many of the CAD, CAM, CAE, CFD user and design company would be very happy!!!

Bigger question in future CAx industry would be Service Industry Vs Product? Cloud computing model of Software As A Service (Saas) has raised the hope for many. There are many who says CAD has become commodity product my question is whether it will be available at commodity services cost?

Last month when my company was making decision on buying perpetual licenses of Ansys Fluent and Ansys CFX we had big brainstorming session. To buy a product of $50 K for 36 year, with $4K AMC for every year, does that make a sense? What if these products become available on cloud. They have to come at much cheaper rate. One may buy cloud license for 1 month for $300 for the project of $4000, it can be still economical as cost is covered in the project. It like buying home in metro city is always costly than renting the place.

If software vendors really goes for cloud and drop their prices won’t the existing customer who have made enormous amount of investment would feel cheated. Thereby common logic prevails on cloud software won’t cost less than their desktop/workstation counterpart (I have my own reservation on this). This would bring software vendors into catch22 situation. As all new entrepreneurs in CAx industry would like to develop and offer all the future CAx applications in cloud. Reason being they are easy to market, fast to deploy and upgrade. To run the company at zero profit with minimum investment for few years is possible in cloud environment. Similar to what we see in Google, Facebook or Amazon where capturing the market is important. To do this they will need to come up with products which are equally good as existing and at negligible or no cost.

Lower cost or going to cloud is not going to make established big OEM less profitable (eg Google would have not crossed $200 billion mark). There might be small hiccup for year or two. But in long run cloud going to make software far more reachable, easy to deploy, upgrade. This is a completely different business model.

Home Styler snap

Project Neon Output

From my prospective cloud computing will bring lot more innovation in CAx space. Industry specific application catering niche category will be spring up in cloud environment. Currently very good example of industry specific could be Homestyler free online home design software (It’s in flash but quality is very good) or project neon photorealistic rendering services. Right now picture for cloud is that it would predominantly serve OEM enterprises, but my logic says it would equally serve new entrepreneurs.

If you have a great idea for CAx application, participate in GeomTech2011 Innovation Contest. Submit your proposal, who know you would win the prizes and peer recognition!!! Join GeomTech2011, Inspiring Innovation. Do write your comments.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hybrid Computing in CAx products – Next disruptive technology

Cloud computing is no more alien technology for CAx world. One thing is for sure cloud is here to stay, slowly and progressively CAx industry would provide user cloud as an option in their product offering. Already Autodesk Labs provides many cloud applications so is SolidWorks and many other products from DASSAULT SYSTEMES are being made available on cloud.

From designer’s point of desktop or cloud does not make big difference (his employer would have lot!). Rather what he wants is next generation technology CAx applications. CAD, CAM, CFD or CAE, every product today is using same old age technology, same methodology with small difference in user interface and workflow. Amount of innovation you are able to see in silicon chip is less evident our CAx applications. As a matter of fact 95% of CAx software products are not able to use more than one or two core of your Quad core processors. It is sheer wastage of computing resource, but things are going to change with new computing paradigm.

Hybrid computing is aiming to use multiprocessor environment weather it multi core CPU, multi core GPU or any computing processer attach to your desktop. War on high performance is heating up between Intel vs NVIDIA vs AMD. NVidia’s claim of 100x GPU vs CPU was debunked by intel publishing technical report claiming GPUS ARE ONLY UP TO 14 TIMES FASTER THAN CPUS. This paper silently proved NVIDIA’s point GPU is many fold faster than CPU for floating point calculation. CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) by NVIDIA and StreamSDK of AMD/ATI has already started making inroads in scientific computing. Both are derived from OpenCL (Open Computing Language) developed Khronos Group. Following graph shows wide gap in computing power between CPU and GPU. Tesla card by NVIDIA has 128 to 1792 processers and thereby no wonder Tesla currently power the fastest supercomputer in the world, Tianhe-1A in Tianjin, China.

It does not mean Intel has given up. Intel has already come up with 48 core processer called “single-chip cloud computer”. 100 core processed is on the way to be made available by other CPU maker.

This heterogeneous computing environment with mammoth computing resource opens Pandora of algorithms that can be used in CAx applications. Hepatic user interfaces, intelligent CAx system can now be realities. No need to wait for Quantum computing, smart programming in hybrid computing can provide required computing. Real time simulations as you define the problem in your CAD/CAM/CFD/CAE application are not distant dream. One would also realize corporations who treat engineering design as secrete would go for hybrid option than cloud for many reasons.

Moving toward hybrid computing will involved re-engineering many of the application or rewriting complete new applications, as highly serial code cannot be parallelize so easily. Computing intensive search structures would be required to be kept on GPU where as main algorithm would required utilizing multi core CPU. Developer in me is exciting to design and program these new age applications on new platforms, Are you excited? Do join us in GeomTech2011 and don’t forget to give your comments.

Thanks
Sandip